Comedian of the Month: Billy Bonnell
Cleburne's prodigal son makes good
Originally from Cleburne, Texas, comedian Billy Bonnell has made a home for himself in San Diego where he’s spent the better portion of his twenties serving as an electrical technician in the United States Navy. After graduating from Cleburne High School in 2001, Bonnell took a year off to, ‘find himself.’
“I went to Nashville and tried to get into college there but was unsuccessful due to being lazy as shit,” Bonnell says from his cozy apartment in Pacific Beach. “I never took back the $75 registration fee. I eventually ran out of money and moved back in with my mom. Three months after that I joined the Navy, right after I turned 19.” It was in the Navy where Bonnell was first exposed to stand-up comedy through a fellow sailors’ Mitch Hedberg album. “I didn’t realize people could be funny like that,” Bonnell says of his first time listening to Hedberg. “It kind of blew my mind. The things he was saying; I didn’t know what one-liners were.”
It didn’t take much to peak his curiosity and before long Bonnell was making the rounds on the San Diego open mic scene. It was a Friday night several years ago when I first came across Bonnell performing at Winston’s weekly comedy showcase, Ocean Beach Comedy. OB is where Bonnell would gradually cut his teeth and learn how to write and perform jokes.
Armed with a couple of years of experience under his belt, Bonnell entered and proceeded to dominate the 2010 San Diego’s Funniest Person Contest amongst stiff competition from his peers. Since winning that contest Bonnell has gone on to perform at clubs and colleges in Arizona, Las Vegas, Texas and New York, and was also made a regular member of The La Jolla Comedy Store’s “Best of San Diego.”
With his distinct Southern drawl and unique sense of humor, Bonnell has a bright future ahead of him as he hopes to enroll in UCLA’s film school. “I’m going to apply to UCLA next November,” Bonnell sighs. “I plan on going to film school but that may change.” In the meantime, Bonnell is still in the Navy for at least a few more months and is constantly performing around San Diego. “I just want to be well-liked enough that people will be willing to come back and see the show,” Bonnell says of his aspirations on being a professional stand-up comedian. “I want to make a living at it. That’s my goal.”
Bonnell is currently in production on his first rap-comedy album with fellow comedian and collaborator Greg Santos, and hopes to release it sometime later this year. Click HERE to watch the rap video for their single, "Stanky Dick."