Penny Glass does her comedy routine at the Covered Bridge.

COTTAGE GROVE – When David Ledbetter used to watch Mitch Hedberg and Ron White tell jokes on TV, he knew he had found his dream job. 

“The first time I saw a standup comedian on Comedy Central, I was absolutely blown away, thinking you can actually do that for a job?” Ledbetter said Sunday night after performing at the Comedy Showcase at Covered Bridge Brewing. “That dream faded into the background for a while, then one night around 2014 or ‘15, I stumbled into a pool league and they had an open mic.” Ledbetter gave it a try, and he’s been writing jokes and performing comedy ever since.

Sunday night was a special night for Ledbetter – it was his first appearance in Cottage Grove, where he spent his formative years. 

“We moved to Cottage Grove when I was 11 or 12 from Huntington Beach,” he said. We lived here until 19 or 20 years old. Then I moved to Eugene. But my parents still live in Cottage Grove.”

Of course, Ledbetter has a day job to help pay the bills. He teaches special-needs kids – social skills to middle schoolers, career skills to high schoolers. 

“I built my career around education. Once they graduate, I have a grant program. If their car breaks down on their way to work, I can help them out so they can get shoes or I buy them shoes. I refer to myself as ‘Bureaucrat Santa Claus.’”

Ledbetter says being a teacher and a comedian is a balancing act. He’s waiting to see which one takes off. 

“I’m looking to push myself into comedy,” he said. “That’s one of the nice things about the grant work I do, a lot of it can be done remotely. That’s the dream, to be successful at both.” 

“My kids say, when they hear I’m a comedian, I thought you’re supposed to be funny. I usually tell them, I’m not trying to pander to an audience of 16-year-olds, and I’m also not trying to be a comedian, I’m trying to be a teacher right now. This is Mr. Ledbetter, if you want to talk to David, he’s pretty funny. Mr. Ledbetter isn’t so funny.”

Sunday’s lineup also featured Penny Glass, who has been a rising local star for the last decade. 

Still, after 10 years, the Eugene resident said it’s just as difficult now to take the stage as it was the first time 10 years ago. 

“I think sometimes the writing is better than me doing the comedy – it’s scary, I’ve been doing it a decade and it’s still scary every time,” Glass said. 

“But the writing is what I enjoy the most.”