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University of Missouri

The Comic Contender

Mizzou alumnus, All‐American wrestler and comedian Greg Warren returns to Déjà Vu.

If wrestling at the college level wasn’t so hard, Greg Warren might never have become a comedian. But he had to find some way to ease the pain.

Greg Warren was an All-American wrestler at Mizzou. Photo by Rob Hill.

Greg Warren was an All‐American wrestler at Mizzou. Photo by Rob Hill.

Warren, BJ ’90, grew up in St. Louis where his father was a high school wrestling coach, and every summer, he’d travel to the University of Missouri to participate in wrestling camps. So when former MU wrestling Coach Wes Roper, BS Ed ’81, M Ed ’83, showed up at his front door offering him a scholarship, there was only one answer: “M‐I‐Z!”

But it wasn’t easy. Warren almost quit his first year on the team.

Wrestling was so intense that I developed my sense of humor to cope with the impending doom of practice every day,” Warren says.

On the bus rides to high school wrestling tournaments, Warren and his teammates wore out a cassette tape of Eddie Murphy’s stand‐up. Not much changed when he got to Mizzou. On the shuttle from campus to the Hearnes Center, Warren remembers trying to make his teammates laugh.

One day on the way to practice, Warren played a practical joke on teammate Bobby Henderson. He ordered a pizza to be delivered to the heavyweight during practice.

The Dominos guy showed up in the wrestling room with the pizza, and Coach was not happy,” Warren recalls. “ ‘Does it look like he needs a pizza?’ he yelled at the delivery guy. It was terrible.

It’s such a tough sport, I had to get through it by laughing.”

Fellow grappler Craig Martin, BS Ag ’88, M Ed ’89, took notice and signed up Warren for a contest at the local comedy club Déjà Vu, where Martin was a bartender.

Warren returns to Columbia March 6–7 when he will perform at Déjà Vu and headline a fundraiser for Missouri wrestlers. Photo courtesy Greg Warren.

Warren returns to Columbia March 6–7 when he will perform at Déjà Vu and headline a fundraiser for Missouri wrestlers. Photo courtesy Greg Warren.

Warren won. He got a job at Déjà Vu and a mentor in owner Freddy DeMarco. He honed his chops in the late Henry Hager’s advertising class at the Missouri School of Journalism. Every time he stood in front of the class presenting his campaign for Jell‐O or some other product, it was practice for his stand‐up career.

After graduating, Warren spent 10 years in sales at Procter & Gamble Co., using vacation time to perform around the country. In 2001, he quit his day job to take the stage full time. He performed most recently on Late Night with Seth Meyers and on The Late Late Show.

His act, which he describes as mostly self‐deprecation, returns to the Déjà Vu stage March 6–7. Before his Friday night shows, the Missouri Wrestling Foundation is hosting a silent and live auction fundraiser to support the No. 1‐ranked Mizzou wrestling team, which clinched a perfect 24–0 regular season and hosts the Mid‐American Conference Championships March 7–8. The money raised goes to student‐athletes who are training for the Olympics.

I think you have to show vulnerability to be funny — and I’ve found lots of ways to make fun of myself.”