What’s a comedian to do during a stormy political period? Go deep, or go light to avoid a potential backlash?

For comedian and "The Bob and Tom Show" regular Bob Zany, who will perform Saturday at the Fox Theater, fear of politics is not part of any equation. You either do it, or don’t.

“So many comics are doing it, that's it's almost hack,” said Zany during a recent interview. “I'm from the Johnny Carson school of comedy, go after both sides of the aisles. I tell my audience, ‘I'm not here to change your opinion, but to laugh at it.’ I feel a joke is a joke. On my weekly 'Zany Report,' I cited Rosie O'Donnell who says 90 percent of the time she 'hate tweets' Donald Trump. I guess the other is for diet and exercise?” 

Ouch.

Holding his trademark cigar, Zany pulls no punches onstage, on radio or his podcast, “The Bob Zany Show with Erin O’Connor." With more than 100 episodes under his belt, Zany jumps from topic to interview welcoming guests yanked from his decades in the industry.

“There's a saying in radio, 'save it for the air' and that's the beauty of podcasts. It picks up the good, the bad and the ‘Bay-Bee.'"

But for all the new endeavors, Zany will be forever linked to his longtime relationship with "The Bob & Tom Show." Following an appearance in 1984, Zany was invited back again and again, until he became a permanent fixture on the show for 18 years.

“Being from the Midwest, they have the ability to connect with an audience and the audience would like to hang with them and have a beer. They also have made more comedians stars through their support. I'm very grateful.”

As much as Bakersfield loves "The Bob & Tom Show," Zany is equally adored.

“I'm hoping funny. My act has a beginning and an end. In the middle I let the audience take me where they take me. Think 'old school meets new school' with a 'back to school' chaser!"

For fans wishing to gift the comedian with a box of cigars at the show, Zany made his wish list surprisingly Cuban-free.

“A very fine cigar, a Dutch Master, available at your Walgreens!"

This guy.

Saturday’s showtime is 7 p.m. Tickets are $20 to $30 plus service charge and can be purchased at the Fox box office, 2001 H St. or vallitix.com. A portion of the proceeds will go to Armed Forces Support Foundation helping Kern County veterans. More info at bobzany.com.

KRAB Acoustic Christmas

Tickets are now on sale for the annual Krab Acoustic Christmas returning to the Fox Theater on Dec. 14. This year’s lineup features a mash-up of the latest up-and-coming acts plucked directly from the station’s working playlist: Joywave, Dreamers, Welshly Arms, The Academic, Barns Courtney and Brother Sundance. If those names don’t sound that familiar, don’t worry. One of the goals of these curated holiday shindigs is to introduce listeners to break new acts currently making the rounds and possibly sway listener habits.

Case in point: Noticeably absent are Huntington Beach reggae bros Dirty Heads. Could it be that the Cali reggae roots fanbase is losing its steam in Bakersfield? Doubtful, we’re in California, but with the new wave of indie rock and electro experimentalists arriving stateside from as far as Mullingar, Ireland — home of indie pop gents The Academic — it’s clear radio programmers are once again extending their talent search outside the confines of Sublime, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Foo Fighters.

And that is a good thing. Put in a YouTube search for the acts in the lineup and give some of these new acts a listen or two. I really like the indietronica geekiness of Joywave from New York, and the folk rock of Barns Courtney from the UK.

Suggestion: Given that this batch of acts are (possibly) reflective of area tastes, why not add in Bakersfield bands Hate Drugs and Western Medicine to the lineup? I’m not sayin’, I’m just sayin’.

Ticket prices are $5 to $15 plus service fee, and can be purchased online at ticketfly.com or at the Fox Theater box office, 2001 H St. For more information, visit thebakersfieldfox.com or call 324-1369.

KTOX

Speaking of radio, a random text from Bakersfield graphic designer and fellow music fan Eric Duhart led me to quickly tune my radio to 98.1 FM KTOX and check out what was playing. I couldn’t believe my ears. It was music by The Smiths, Psychedelic Furs, Wall of Voodoo, Joywave (!), The B-52s (from the eighties), Fugazi, Portugal. The Man, They Might Be Giants, Dead Kennedys, Kasabian and more.

Following my initial shock and further research, I found it was not another pirate radio station as I suspected, but in fact a real, terrestrial radio station broadcasting out of Wofford Heights.

Reception is spotty at times depending on your location, but for the most part you can listen anywhere in Kern County or stream online for crystal clear digital.

Steve Rubin, owner of Rubin Broadcasting, who also has a history in the radio business responded to my Facebook message inquiry granted me a brief interview over email about the station and to no surprise, it was quite weird:

TBC: How long did it take you to get it off the ground? When did you go live?

Rubin: Once we figured out the combination to the gate, only a few minutes. We had to hike a quarter-mile in the snow with a bunch of equipment. We made the cat lady carry the transmitter.

Who are the masterminds behind KTOX?

Rubin: A few wacky guys, a brown chihuahua that showed up at the station one day, and some crazy cat lady. 

Do people automatically think you're a pirate station?

Rubin: No, we usually need to inform them we are.

Your playlist is across the board, many of the '80s hits are some pretty good deep cuts. Who curates the list?

Rubin: One of the guys used to work for KROQ in the '80s and stole a bunch of records.  The rest we got a good deal on at Goodwill.  

What genres do you play? What will you not play?

Rubin: We don’t play Barbara Streisand.  She did some bad things to us once.  We’re thinking of switching to an all 432 hz format.  

Any plans for any radio personalities?

Rubin: I have lots of plans for radio personalities.  I am not sure how they feel about us though. Most of them just don’t call us back.

I can hear the station pretty clear in my car in East Bakersfield. How strong is the signal?

Rubin: You probably have lightbulbs in your house that use more power.

What kind of responses are you getting?

Rubin: I hear we are big with the guys at the Delano prison.  I get some interesting fan mail. 

Any advertisers yet?

Rubin: We’re commercial free … until we aren’t.  

Any plans to play any unsigned music? Bakersfield bands?

Rubin: We are only playing unsigned bands from Shafter, Onyx and Woody. We might consider new artists from Bodfish.  

How can people get in touch with you?

Rubin: Facebook is the best way or email info@ktox.com. We take requests.  

Those old school enough to remember Magic 98 FM during the '80s in Kern County will definitely have some flashbacks while listening. I sure did. You can tune to KTOX 98.1 FM on your radio dial or online at ktox.com.

Matt’s picks

Petty or Not, 7 p.m. Thursday, The Mark, 1623 19th St. $10. 322-7665.

Those still mourning the recent passing of Tom Petty will find comfort at this tribute to one of American music’s greatest songwriters. Lead vocalist and guitarist Erik Szabo has the voice, hair and scruffy look of the late Tom Petty plus a healthy selection of songs pulled from Petty’s discography. Add in a solid backing band and you have a sweet pre-weekend, sing-along rager with the mates in the heart of downtown.

Murs, 8 p.m. Friday, B Ryder’s, 7401 White Lane. $16 (plus service fee). 397-7304.

When SoCal underground rap legend Murs hits the stage, fans are ready to chant along with every verse. Born Nicholas Carter in South Central Los Angeles, he adopted the stage name as an acronym with multiple meanings including "Making the Universe Recognize and Submit." Bobbing and weaving through a number of respected groups such as Living Legends and many others, his collaborations are fan favorites. Put in a YouTube search for one of his early Bakersfield visits to Fishlips in downtown Bakersfield from 2008. Highly recommended.

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