Library Media Clerk John Kevari is serious about his work during the day at SBVC but loves to make people laugh at night at famed comedy clubs in Los Angeles.
Upon first glance, SBVC Library Media Clerk John Kevari may not strike most people as the prototypical up-and-coming stand-up comedian performing regularly in some of L.A.’s hottest comedy clubs.
But, for anybody who has worked around him since 1988 in the SBVC Library, his humor is unavoidable and infectious.
“Sometimes John just does things off the cuff that are very funny but he always has a good attitude and is very helpful,” said Library Associate Professor Patti Wall, who has worked with Kevari his whole career. “His interest in comedy is almost a separate life for him because he is not really trying to be a comedian at work. He really is here to do his job.”
Kevari started as a student assistant in the SBVC Library in the 1980s and actually took some Library Science classes.
“I always liked going to libraries and enjoyed reading and sort of fell into it,” Kevari said. “Ever since then, I have been working in the library for my day job while dabbling in writing and comedy in my free time.”
Kevari’s memories of comedy go back to childhood, watching Johnny Carson and Saturday Night Live as he fondly recalls sitting in his living room with his parents while they laughed out loud to Don Rickles.
“I remember being the class clown in junior high and doing funny stuff whenever we had free self-expression times,” said Kevari, whose performance style is a mix between George Carlin and Steve Martin. “There was always something that was in me that was drawn to comedy. I didn’t know if I could do it, but it was a little like a moth to a flame.”
The moth encountered the flame when John Kevari made his first stand-up comedy appearance at The Comedy Store in Hollywood in 1986. The fresh-faced 23-year-old read an article in People magazine about the legendary comedy house and took the Greyhound bus from San Bernardino for a Monday night show.
“After that first performance, I remember feeling like I had just hit a home run, and it still feels that way today. It’s scary, but, you get those first few moments where everybody is paying attention and you have the chance to win them over and that’s what attracts you to comedy,” said Kevari, who has performed at The Ice House and Flappers. “You prepare, you practice in the mirror, at open mics, and when everything goes well, you wonder why you even worried. There’s nothing like it to get those laughs.”
Born with only two fingers on one hand, Kevari approaches his life no different from anybody without a disability.
“I do consider it a disability, but I don’t know any different. Never in your life would anybody imagine having three hands. So, for me, I can only imagine life with one hand,” Kevari shared.
Drawing on the challenges of surviving the tough teenage years, Kevari is unafraid to mix his disability into his routine as more than just a punchline.
“It is a challenge as I don’t really joke about it in real life. But, when a comedian is on stage, you have to confront the obvious because it puts the audience at ease and, in turn, puts me at ease,” Kevari said. “When they don’t laugh, the first thing I think is that they might be seeing my hand. But, if you deal with it in your routine, they can deal with it too.”
Kevari jokes that his favorite part of working with students in the SBVC Library is when he finally has the chance to leave at the end of the day. All joking aside, Kevari freely admits he enjoys the variety of dealing with students’ needs.
“Sometimes, students can be the most frustrating, but sometimes the most fun,” Kevari said. “Most are dedicated to what they do and it’s nice to help them because they appreciate it.
SBVC Library Circulation Supervisor Angie Gideon, who has worked with John since the day he started as a student assistant, witnesses his daily humor.
“He has always been good to the students,” Gideon said. “I have always told John that some day he is going to be on TV because he is very funny.”