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Sunday, May 1, 2016

Le Mars woman goes for the yuks, trying out for reality TV show

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Le Mars resident Diana Rader hopes to make the most of her audition for NBC-TV's "Last Comic Standing." A cashier at the Le Mars Country Store, Rader has been invited to an open casting call in Minneapolis, Minn. later this month.
Andy Warhol once said that, in the future, everybody will get their "fifteen minutes of fame."

Diana Rader hopes her clock will start ticking on a tiny stage in a comedy club in the middle of downtown Minneapolis later this month.

"I've been asked to audition during an open-casting call for NBC's 'Last Comic Standing,'" the Le Mars woman exclaims, "and I can't wait!"

"Can you tell this was a spur-of-the moment idea?" she laughs as she excitedly flips through publicity photos stored on her cell phone.

Although she's never done stand-up before, Rader loves making people laugh.

"I'm a cashier at the Le Mars Country Store," she says, "and I'm always cracking people up...co-workers, customers, you name it."

"Don't knock it," Rader mentions, eyeballing me. "On a busy day, that's a pretty good cross section of people."

"If you can make somebody laugh when they're in a hurry," she maintains, "you can make 'em laugh anywhere."

Rader's comedy: It's character-driven complete with an emphasis on costumes and interaction with the crowd.

"I'm like a chameleon," she offers. "I enjoys changing things up to suit my surroundings."

But the self-deprecating Rader makes sure she's the butt of many of her own jokes.

"If you can't laugh at yourself," she asks, "who can you laugh at?"

"A lot of my humor comes from real life," Rader says with a sly look on her face, "and my own life has had some, um, interesting moments."

Among those moments was winning the title of "Most Outrageous Person in Siouxland."

"Now, this happened years ago," Rader recalls. "(The soft drink) Mello Yello was sponsoring a contest at the Southern Hills Mall in Sioux City. It got me to thinking: What's the craziest thing I could ever do."

And then it hit her.

"Wouldn't it be fun to be a human hot dog?" Rader asks herself, chuckling at the memory. "I was dressed only in a bikini. Somehow we were able to scrounge up a big hot dog bun suit for me to lie on and my mom squirted me with condiments."

"Right in the middle of Southern Hills Mall," she adds.

"And that's how you become the 'Most Outrageous Person in Siouxland,'" Rader says with her face in her hands.

"You might note that my mom helped me to achieve that honor," she laughs, "so you might say it runs in my family."

Other notable achievements for Rader: Entering a Toughwoman competition ("I'm a brown belt in Tae Kwon Do," she mentions) and winning a local "Bobbing for Trout" contest ("Several newspapers had a photo of me with a trout in my mouth," she offers. "Maybe the Sentinel was one of 'em?") (Editor's note: The Sentinel was NOT one of those newspapers).

More recently, Rader has turned her attention to reality television.

"I've applied to a part of the 'Big Brother' house," she says unapologetically, "and I've made tapes to send to 'Survivor.'"

"For the past seven seasons," Rader adds with a grin.

"But with 'Last Comic Standing,' I'll be allowed to be as creative as I can be," she mentions mischievously, "and I've been known to be pretty creative."

The "Last Comic Standing" website asks applicants to bring with them their best two minutes of material.

"The doors to Minneapolis's Acme Comedy Club will open promptly at 9 a.m., March 27," Rader reads off the notice sent to her.

"Nope," she says, shaking her head. "We're not gonna be there at 9 a.m. Uh-uh. We'll be there the night before, camping out!"

"We don't want to be the first ones at the door," Rader says with a determined look in her eyes. "We want to be the first ones in line!"

Luckily, Rader won't be alone. Her brother Kenneth is also auditioning to be on the show.

"I like calling myself 'artistic'" she smiles. "But Kenny's the 'real deal.' He's the artist in my family. Literally. He's an artist who's paintings are in great demand."

"This'll be Kenny's first time doing stand-up," Rader mentions. "I hope he'll do okay."

I remind Rader that this will also be HER first time on a comedy stage.

"Yeah, but I know I'll do fine," she says confidently.

"Ever since I was a little girl, I've always wanted to be famous," Rader says seriously. "Why aim low when you can always aim high?"

Rader remembers all of the times she and her brother snuck into movie theaters back when they were children.

"Cheech and Chong in 'Up in Smoke!'" she belts out a laugh. "That was our movie. We were probably kicked out of that movie a hundred times."

But the snippets of that movie she saw convinced her that she wanted to be on the big screen.

She wanted to make people laugh.

"And I still do," Rader smiles. "Once you reach the age of 40, like I have, you're supposed to settle down and forget your dreams."

"I could never live my life like that," she says, shaking her head. "Life is for the living and I still have things I'd love to do. If I fail? Well, at least I tried."

"No regrets," Rader says. "No regrets."

When she hits the stage for "Last Comic Standing," will the audience be seeing the next Ellen Degeneres?

"Who knows?" Rader chuckles. "I like being a chameleon. You never know what I'm gonna do next."

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