Donzilla Don Tjernagel
DONZILLA Don Tjernagel
Think back to your last job interview. Odds are if you left feeling confident that the job was yours, most likely, you were dressed to the nines, said all the right things and the hint of a perma-grin was still visible as you drove your Subaru back to your neatly manicured suburban neighborhood.
As you tucked yourself in that night, fully expecting the call with a job offer the next day, you probably felt pretty good that you played it safe.
Now take that feeling and throw it in the garbage can. This is the antithesis of the comedy style of Donzilla Don Tjernagel. The veteran comedian, who describes his style as “fearless”, believes that “clean” comedy is a lie. To be specific, he equates it to watching a good job interview go well, which, in terms of an artist who aims to elicit genuine cerebral laughs from his audience, is pretty much synonymous with watching paint dry.
Born in America’s heartland, Donzilla Don Tjernagel grew up in Oelwein, Iowa. He went on to attend the University of Northern Iowa, where he earned a football scholarship. After being sidelined with an injury, he packed up and headed off to Las Vegas to finish school.
Like many college students, his affinity for caffeine led to many an hour spent at the neighborhood coffee shop, but he took it a step further when said coffee shop offered free java to anyone brave enough to take the stage for open mic night. He felt at home in front of his audience. Being up there, delivering comedic relief felt natural to him and soon he became a regular on the Las Vegas comedy circuit. The year was 1997.
Armed with a vision and considerable stature, he studied and worked security jobs but it didn’t take him long to earn a spot as a bona fide comedy performer. Within a year, by the young age of 22, he was the headliner of his own show on the strip.
His brand of humor is controversial, no doubt, but it’s simultaneously thought-provoking and certainly not meant for the dim-witted. With notorious influences like Sam Kinison and Lenny Bruce, it’s no wonder that Tjernagel, who uses the word “crude” to describe himself, has gone on to produce DVD’s with titles like “Smut”, “Filthy” and “X-Rated”.
The brazen Tjernagel, refers to himself as a “big Norwegian” and has been dubbed “Donzilla”, a moniker that stuck after a Comedy Central announcer observed that he was so big he could eat the city of Phoenix.
He’s been described by The Serious Comedy Site as “The world’s smartest and best dirty comic”. To say that he pushes the envelope is an understatement and sometimes it lands him in hot water, like the time he received 17 death threats after a patriotic flag-burning stunt during a live comedy show.
While in Omaha, he briefly owned a comedy club, appropriately named “Jesters”.
It was the nation’s first and only full free speech comedy club that featured a hand painted wall with the first amendment, a and commissioned painting of Lenny Bruce next to it.
He is more than happy to exercise his rights since he feels that it may not be long before those rights could be stripped away.
Tjernagel has been seen on Comedy Central and the BBC, performed at some of the biggest hotels in Vegas, toured the entire world and released multiple CD’s and DVD’s. His hard work and persistence have continued to bring about success in his craft.
He constantly strives to better himself and his ultimate goal is to produce the best comedy DVD possible….one that leaves him consummately satisfied and he’s not likely to stop trying until he’s achieved it.