The Des Moines Social Club presents concerts, theatrical productions and shows featuring homegrown talent from Des Moines. In keeping with our role as an incubator for local artists, musicians and creative types, we’d like to spotlight a few of the performers who have graced our stage.

Ben Gran is a stand-up comedian from Des Moines. He made his stand-up comedy debut at the Des Moines Social Club Kirkwood Theatre on March 9, 2012.

Ben’s comedy career started by posting jokes on Facebook with the goal of getting himself kicked off the site. “I hate Facebook,” said Ben, “so I decided to start writing alienating, off-putting jokes in the hopes that I would tick people off and they would unfriend me and I could quit.”

But instead, Ben’s Facebook humor took on a life of its own. “People started telling me how much they loved my jokes,” he said. “So I thought, well, what if I put on a show?”

Doing stand-up comedy is most people’s worst nightmare, but for Ben Gran it’s been a lifelong dream. “Back when I was in high school I used to memorize George Carlin routines,” said Ben. “I don’t even follow that much stand-up comedy, but I really respect the all-time greats like George Carlin, Bill Hicks and Mitch Hedberg. Why are all the great comedians dead?”

While Ben had experience acting in plays, performing improv and sketch comedy in college, and serving as a former speechwriter for Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack, he had never done stand-up. But armed with dozens of jokes and an eerie sense of self-confidence, he booked the Social Club to host his comedic debut.

“I had no business doing stand-up comedy, but I had no choice – I was possessed and obsessed,” said Ben. “People were concerned about me, saying things like ‘Are you sure you want to do this?’ and ‘Maybe you should do an open mic first,’ and ‘Maybe you should see a therapist.’ I was consumed with reckless, impulsive energy. I just had to do this.”

Ben describes the night of the show as “other than meeting my wife and becoming a father, one of the best nights of my life.”

Working from a strong fan base on Facebook, Ben sold 140 tickets to his debut performance. The Social Club was packed, standing room only. “People were sitting on the floor by the side of the stage,” Ben said. “My one regret is that we didn’t have enough chairs for everyone. I suppose that’s a good problem to have.”

In the months since his stand-up comedy debut, Ben Gran has been moving fast to do more with his comedy talents. He established a website,, and has performed at comedy showcases in Omaha and New York City.

Ben’s next goal is to go on tour to other cities in Iowa and around the Midwest, booking his own venues and working from Facebook to build his own crowds.

“I’m still very new to comedy, but I think I’ve got a knack for it and I want to perform as often as possible in front of as many people as possible,” said Ben. “One of the great things about social media is you can create your own audience. I just want to keep writing jokes, getting in front of people and making people laugh. I’m in this for the long haul, and I’m grateful to the Des Moines Social Club for helping me get my start as a comedian.”

Want to watch Ben Gran’s March 9 performance? The show was recorded as a free 1-hour concert video, “Ben Gran Live at the Des Moines Social Club.”

Follow Ben Gran on Facebook at