RON HARTMAN/CHRONICLE PHOTO

Comedian Bruce Jingles performs at Covered Bridge Brewing Group's Comedy Showcase last week.

COTTAGE GROVE – Bruce Jingles is eagerly awaiting the expected wintertime release of his Netflix special. “My Mother’s Gift” is the working title so far. After his mom died on April 27, he said the loss remains fresh on his mind. 

“Mom used to have a couple of drinks and say, Alex Elkin is funny, because he don’t live here,” Jingles said of Elkin, who co-hosted the Crackin’ Up Comedy Showcase at the Covered Bridge Brewing Group on Sunday evening. 

“Alex calls the house – and he’s a comic book collector – and my mom says I hear you collect comics. My son is a comic, when can you pick him up?” Jingles recalls. 

As long as Mom was giving him a hard time, everything was normal. Life was good.

“Without Mom, it’s like learning to walk with a limp. 

“After she passed away, not to gross anybody out but when people die you lose control of your bodily functions, and the coroner asked if I wanted her undergarments. I started laughing, and they said, ‘Why are you laughing, sir?’ I said, ‘You guys don’t get it. Even in death she’s still giving me (crap).’”

Jingles and Elkin helped the Crackin’ Up Comedy series get off to a running start, as shows are taking place at the Covered Bridge every other Sunday night. This was the third night of the series and, so far, the entertainment – even the toilet humor – has been a hit with the audiences.

“I’d rather (perform in) Cottage Grove than Portland,” Elkin said. “It’s the people. They get all the big-name acts up there, but down here people are more appreciative of seeing us here.”

While Elkin doesn’t have the long list of national credits like Jingles does, he did win the highly prestigious 41st annual International San Francisco Comedy Competition in 2016.

But he said nothing could match the feeling of performing overseas in 2018 in Kuwait, Baghdad, Syria and Iraq.

“For comics (playing for the troops) is like a jewel in the crown,” Elkin said. 

Jingles said he has gone overseas six times to perform for our soldiers.

“It’s something I always wanted to do,” he said. “They have such captive audiences over there, they are fans for life. 

“I have a couple of lighters from soldiers that were later killed over there. You brought them into your world, and they were so grateful that they took them out for that moment, and that moment will last a lifetime.”

Elkin said he has been overwhelmed by how touched some fans are. He said after one show in Sacramento, a fan approached him and said he hadn’t laughed so hard since he and his brother – Sgt. Christopher Harris, who had died in Afghanistan in 2017 – had seen Elkin perform.

“Then he proceeds to give me this family heirloom of his brother,” Elkin said. “I told him I couldn’t accept it, but it meant so much to him that he decided that he needed to do it.

“I still have it. I mean, really … jokes, comedy. Powerful! 

Fresh, original humor can pack quite a punch … as long as it steers clear of the toilet most of the time!