Keith Bergman

Keith Bergman


August 3, 2016


Tell us more about some of your past projects?

I played drums and sang in bands for a number of years, wrote for the Toledo City Paper and Toledo Free Press, did some community theater, became somewhat known as a music journalist, and very briefly reviewed dirty movies for an adult film industry trade magazine.

What current projects are you working on?

 Since 2010, I have focused on stand-up comedy.  I released my first CD, “Disheveled,” in 2014, and I am recording a new hour special in November for a DVD/CD release.

What advantages does being in Northwest Ohio/Toledo offer your efforts?

Toledo’s central location makes it a great home base for road work.  I tour nationwide and it’s great to be able to get anywhere east of the Mississippi in a day’s drive (or so). The cost of living and safe, comfortable neighborhoods make for a great home base, and our creative community benefits from being easily accessible, scrappy and committed. 

Tell us about one of your greatest successes.

 I hope my biggest successes are yet to come, but moments like my first CD recording stand out for me.  I booked my own weekly comedy series downtown, cultivated an audience, and closed out the “season finale” of the series with a sold-out show that we recorded for the album. Seeing Toledo come out to support things like that is humbling, inspiring and motivating.

Tell us who or what gives you inspiration?

Comedically, great performers like Chris Rock, Maria Bamford, Louis CK, Bill Burr, Tom Papa, Kathleen Madigan, and Joan Rivers have inspired me.  The community of other comics in the region is a strong one, as well, and seeing my friends work hard and grow as creative individuals inspires me to write better and work harder.  My daughter Brady is perhaps my biggest inspiration — she has faced numerous challenges in life and is tougher than I will ever be.

Tell us about your background.

I grew up in New Philadelphia, Ohio, and moved to Toledo in 1990. I didn’t finish college, but I came to love the city, and eventually settled here for good. I’ve always been a writer, a music nerd and an old-school computer geek. I spent a lot of years not really focused on any particular goal, but age and creeping mortality have turned out to be great motivators to make me start working harder at actually trying to accomplish something and finish a project or two.

Do you have a motto or favorite quote you try to live by?

It’s changed over the years, but of late Theodore Roosevelt’s “Get action. Do things. Be sane” has been a mantra.

Favorite place for local culture?

I love the museum, I love Handmade Toledo, Culture Clash Records is wonderful.  I travel a lot now and am not as plugged into Toledo as I should be, but I’m trying to change that.

Toledo’s “best kept secret” is . . .

 The fact that despite being self-deprecating to a fault, the people of this town will support hard work and initiative, and will root for the ones who swing for the fences.

My favorite place to chill locally is . . . 

The streets of my neighborhood in west Toledo.  I go for walks to clear my head and think, and looking at the beautiful houses in the Old Orchard area, seeing people just getting about their lives in our town, gives me hope when the world seems out of whack.

My favorite natural space in the Toledo area is . . . 

I love the arboretum in the Old West End, the riverfront down by the Docks, and Maumee Bay State Park.

When I’m not working hard, I can always be found at . . . 

Home! Unless I’m taking a break and meeting friends at the Ottawa Tavern downtown, or Pat’s Corner Bar on Douglas. Besides that, it’s either catching up at home or hitting a local restaurant (Greg’s Grill, QQ Kitchen on Secor, Schmucker’s, El Vaquero, Manhattan’s, and Glass City Cafe are all favorites). Like I said, I don’t get out as much at home, as I get used to travel being my new normal, but I’ll get that sorted out.

If you could change anything about the current landscape for creative, progressive people . . .

I’d love if we had a district.  We may yet get one with Adams Street, but I feel like sometimes the creative community is scattered in a physical sense because Toledo is such a sprawling city. I think if people doing awesome things coalesce into one signature location, and those who support them know that’s the go-to spot, things will really start to take off.

Any exciting collaborations (past or present) you would like to tell us about?

My life has been consumed this year with my forthcoming DVD taping. Meeting videographers like Dave Ayling, technicians like Lara Kuhlman, and fellow comedians like Mike Szar, and bringing them all together as a team to put this show together, film it and get it out to the world has been life-changing. My name will be on the DVD box but there are so many people’s good work going into this, from Toledo and all over the region. It’s an honor. Nothing I do would work without these immense talents having my back.

If I may plug this thing: Wednesday, November 23, 8pm, Maumee Indoor Theatre (See flyer above). Net proceeds benefit Toledo School For the Arts, which I truly believe is the single biggest force for creative change in Toledo.  I look forward to being an old man and seeing the Toledo our kids and grandkids make after getting their starts at TSA.

Name one person (living or deceased) who you would love to collaborate with.

I’ve often wished I could book a nationwide tour of the grimiest dive bars and juke joints, throw someone like Redd Foxx or George Carlin in the car, and just tour punk rock style for a month, get into it with small, sweaty crowds, and just soak up their road stories after the shows every night over drinks.

Name a CD, book or website you can’t live without.

Too many books and albums to mention. I’ll say I can’t live without my classic computer emulator on my laptop. I write game programs for the Texas Instruments 99/4A, which is a computer they stopped making in 1983.  For some reason, making primitive little video games on an antique computer helps reset my brain, it’s very therapeutic and helps me focus. I often travel for work with 35-year-old computer manuals and graph paper notes crammed into my laptop case.

3 words that best describe me or my work are . . .

Smart, stupid bluster

I’d like to see __________ in Toledo.

More galleries, more book stores, more food trucks, a full-time comedy club with sketch and improv nights downtown, more people out and about on weeknights, more high-fives and hugs. That last one’s not me being glib, that’s how you make people love their town and the other people in it, and make them want to stay.

My most inspiring moment was/is . . .

The birth of my daughter, the adoption of my son, and the day I finally realized I was never going to know what I was doing but I still had to try to do something anyway.

I want my last meal to be _______________.

 One of every item in the Tiger Bakery deli case, with a bathtub full of hummus on the side.


Back to All Creative Natives