PROFILE: Cal Westray has passed out 1,600 key openers
For the Roast of Cal Westray, I asked Cal some questions and he gave such detailed answers, I figured I would compile them into a profile, so that everyone can know more about our favorite Dayton comedy champion.
What is a little background on you? Are you from the area?
I was born in Dayton and raised in a little suburb of Trotwood, called Townview. I lived in Fairborn for a short while and then back to Dayton. I graduated from Fairview High School. I was a wrestler in High School. After school I tried going to Wright State and spent more time working than studying and got kicked out (But that's where I met Elizabeth, so it wasn't a waste of time).
I went into the Air Force and was stationed in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Elizabeth and I got married after she finished her degree at WSU and I was getting out of the AF. We moved to Xenia had two girls and then moved to Jamestown. I got my Associates degree in Computer Science and Bachelors degree in Business Management.
What did you do before you retired?
I spent from 1978 to 2009 as a computer programmer and systems analyst. When DHL pulled up steaks and moved to Cinci, I was one of the 14,000 people out of a job. I tried to find work and no one was hiring, so I just decided to retire.
How long have you been supporting the Dayton comedy community?
Why do you do it?
Why do you love comedy so much?
I think I started attending the comedy scene around 2009-2010 after I retired, as a hobby and fun activity. I regretted not doing it back in the 80s when the best of them (or the legends) came to Wiley's. I was a regular at the open mic and I found my calling as a fan.
I was always a fan. As a kid I'd get all the comedy albums to play on my record player. Later I'd get cassettes and CDs. My favorites to listen to were Monty Python and Firesign Theatre. Lots of which I played when I volunteered as a DJ at the base radio station.
What was your reaction when you found out about the roast?
I've been to another roast, where Dan Dean was dressed as Santa and we were roasting Santa. I was nervous at first, but I enjoyed it. Everyone enjoyed it, because we knew everyone loved each other and nothing was ever taken seriously.
I also watched all the Dean Martin celebrity roasts and everyone had a great time, regardless if they were giving or receiving. I look at this as another way I can give to the community. Other comedians will be writing jokes for me, because I personally couldn't come up with anything to say that was roast worthy. I may have some of my own stuff, but I hope it will go over well. Anything I say during the roast will sound weird because everyone would know that those thoughts wouldn't come from me. Ha! more
Who are some of your favorite comedians you’ve seen over the years?
I started out listening to record albums of Bill Cosby and anyone else I could find. My favorite back then was Spike Jones, where they combined music and comedy. From then, I was hooked. I listened to all of them whenever I could
I love all the Bob and Tom favorites and they are too numerous to mention. I get sad and meloncholy occasionally when I think about some of the club favorites that have died over the years. Who doesn't miss Droopy Drew Donisi and Uncle Dow Thomas? What hit the hardest was the loss of Tim Wilson. He was the one who convinced me to get up on stage for the first time to tell my stories. If it wasn't for him, I never would have gotten up there, the thought of it terrified me. But when I stepped on stage, all the fear and anxiety melted away. It was the weirdest feeling!
I have a deep respect for anyone who gets up there. I know what it takes to do it and it's not easy. And I love the ones who keep going up there. Over the years, I enjoyed watching the people I saw for their first time, and constantly improve over the years. And that is amazing to watch, and an honor to be a part of.
Why do you give comedians the bottle openers? Where did the idea come from?
I first got the idea of the openers when a comedian came to Wiley's by the name of Dave Williamson. Part of his merch was men's rings that were bottle openers. Well, I HAD to get one. Later I thought that it would be fun to get a few to pass around at the club to the new open micers. The supplier of the rings couldn't guarantee the sizes and it was difficult and complicated to get the right ring to the right size finger. And the women were getting shorted on the deal.
I was looking through ebay for bottle opener suppliers and I saw some skeleton key openers that caught my eye. I got some and they were well received. I was curious over the years, how many keys were in circulation, so I checked my ebay history and since I started, I've passed out 1600 of them to comedians, family, and friends. It has turned out to be something like a brotherhood of the key. Ha!
How is the joke writing for the roast coming?
As everyone knows, I just tell stories and I used a prop my first time on stage, which worked well, I thought. So, I have a couple ideas. They will probably more silly than funny. We'll see. Thanks and hope to see you at the roast!