By Ron VandenBoom
Its a bird, its a plane, its the sound of a speeding Harley Davidson Motorcycle.
Well, its not really a Harley Davidson, nor is it a real plane, but to those who watch comedian and sound impressionist Herb Dixon, its hard to tell the difference.
Dixon is a phenomenon a one of a kind blend of raw talent and finely tuned skill who is blessed with the ability to join the common with the extraordinary to form a synthesis of laughter. Dixon is life put into context. A surprisingly clear context that everyone sees but only he seems to appreciate for its comedic value.
I just get up there and have way too much fun, Dixon said, minimizing his obvious talents.
Whether kicking up his heels on the Great Northern Free Stage or tickling the funny bones of several hundred people at the night show, his laughable, entertaining, and some might say outrageous sense of humor is contagious. Its a natural gift that has been finely honed by years of practice to appear spontaneous, but this is one comic that leaves nothing to chance as he plies his audience with tried-and-true material as well as an infusion of new.
Ive added a few new lines, things, to the show since last year, he said. Some of it taken from working fairs ... but my frame of mind has improved this year.
The change in Dixons attitude stems partly from his having acquired a personal business manager.
If you got a business manager, that takes all of the business off of your hands, you can concentrate on doing your job, Dixon said, and thats what I do.
Dixon moved from his home in Canada into the American market in 1998, doing fairs and a few club gigs. The experience created an avalanche of new opportunities and, according to Dixon, had one unexpected side effect.
My golf game is better, he said.
In between golf games, he has performed at a showcase in Texas, worked fairs in North Dakota and in Montana, and he will be opening for the Doobie Brothers in Reno, Nev., in September just to name a few of the things hes doing.
Dixons touch of reality-based humor can tackle the funny bone with super human force and at the same time tickle the ribs with surprising subtlety. His routine rests on a foundation of shared human experiences that ring familiar to even the most reclusive intellect.
With all this rain out here, Im waiting for the animals to start pairing up, he said, while wiping the rain from his hair just prior to his performance at the Night Show Wednesday.
Ive been watering, it hoping it will grow more, he added, referring to his wet hair.
His routine extends from the common experience of driving a car on Montana highways to trying to understand the logic behind building a roller-coaster on the roof of a skyscraper.
Dixons routine doesnt graze in the pasture of the intellectual, it bellows in the arena of good old fashion in your face reality.
Comedy has been Dixons life-long passion. It traces its roots to his years as a youth in Canada when he listened to the records of Wess Harrison, an early sound effects artist and comedian. Dixons ability to entertain his friends and imitate the records became an obsession he has yet to overcome.
Today he listens to the sound of applause and the laughter of the crowd. Its not a bad job if you can get it.
Dixon will also perform Friday on the Free Stage before heading off to Kalispell. He will leave great memories for his fans and take with him memories of his fans.
Dixon, like the Lone Ranger before him, gallops off into the sunset waving his hat in the air and shouting, Thanks for having me back Havre, youre great people.