Lyndhurst-rooted comedian takes West Coast by storm

By Anthony J. Machcinski

Thirty-four years after Stephen Boehringer left Lyndhurst for California with his mother, he continues to grow as a comedian. But it was not easy.
After spending time on the West Coast, Boehringer experienced something that all comedians fear, getting booed off stage.
“They wanted a drunken Santa routine,” explained Boehringer. “When you’re booed and stuff, if you love the business and art of performing, that won’t get in your way.”
Indeed, he managed to take this negative situation and turn it into a learning experience.
“I didn’t let it get in my way,” said Boehringer.  “That sort of thing doesn’t happen anymore.”
Boehringer got into comedy after he moved to California. After talking to a girl who said he could perform, Boehringer went to an open mic night at a local stage to impress her. She never showed up at the event, but the young comedian’s rising career had begun.
One of the challenges that Boehringer faced while being in California was his New Jersey personality.
“I really learned how to cater my act to California,” he explained. “My basic personality and pace of my speech weren’t readily accepted in California. They didn’t quite get it, but it works very well now.”
Another part of Boehringer’s delivery that had to be changed was his strong opinions about his religion. These needed to be pulled back for audiences who would not understand or appreciate the jokes.
His strong opinions have forced him to lengthen the amount of time it has taken to produce newest effort … a sort of “how to” guide for fellow comics.
“I really have to edit myself on being too preachy,” Boehringer said. “It’s taking much longer than I’ve expected.”
The book, which Boehringer hopes will be completed and published by early 2012, will attempt to help other comedians by telling them about his own experiences and how to learn from them.
“This book is really about entertainment and comedy from the prospective of a non-secular audience and the challenges you face performing for them,” Boehringer explained.
Boehringer has been in California ever since he and his mother made the trek in 1977. Since then, he has been unable to return and perform in the town where  he was raised.
“Never had the opportunity to return (to Lyndhurst),” said Boehringer. “I think it’d be fun to see how my act plays there.”
Many people in the business attempt to define their success based on monetary value. Boehringer’s success is defined in other ways.
“Some people classify success is by the fame and the money,” Boehringer said. “Mine was completely different. It’s being confident in yourself and knowing what was on the paper and being confident. After six years, I got it. It’s when the hecklers don’t bother you and the jokes that don’t work don’t bother you. That’s success on the comedy stage.
After a successful 34-year career that even his role models, Bill Cosby and George Carlin, would be proud of, Boehringer realizes that there are further plateaus for his career to reach.
“What I want to do is have my stand-up act be more than just a stand-up act,” Boehringer explained, saying that he wants to include more music, presentations, and video displays.
When asked if he has future plans to move back to the East Coast, Boehringer said, “I’ve been married 23 years and have three kids. It doesn’t look like I’ll be back.”
However, it is this culture and atmosphere that he misses most.
“When you have a friend in New Jersey, you have a friend for life,” Boehringer explained. “The people are different. They may be more abrasive, but they’re just different.”
Boehringer will continue to perform on the West Coast and write his book, which is currently untitled, to be published next year.

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