FAYETTEVILLE — Each week stand-up comedian Efrain Colón can be heard on the radio throughout the region as part of the staff of Cumulus Broadcasting in Fayetteville, however he credits a youth spent as a class clown attending Pembroke’s Mount Zion Christian Academy for preparing him for a life spent trying to make people smile.
“Me and my sisters were raised by our mother, who was very religious,” Colón said. “ … Most of what I remember is that I was just a weird little kid.”
Colón, who is now in his mid-20s, was born in Fayetteville, but since the age of 9 spent much of his youth being raised in Pembroke with his two older sisters. Though his upbringing was as fundamentalist Christian, Colón says that he frequently used humor as an escape mechanism, often to the dismay of teachers.
“My kindergarten teacher would send my mother notes home about me making monkey noises,” Colón said. “In third grade my teacher made me tell jokes in front of class as punishment for goofing off … Of course, I ended up killing.”
After returning to Fayetteville to attend Berean Baptist Academy during his high school years, Colón again chose to return to Robeson County to attend The University of North Carolina at Pembroke, and graduated with a degree in Mass Communications. It was during a summer break from college that Colón got his first taste of professional comedy, when he took on an internship with National Lampoon in Los Angeles.
Following that gig, Colón saw comedy as a much more plausible career option, and in 2009, after graduation, Colón took a stab at stand-up comedy during a brief stay in Seattle at the Comedy Underground’s open-mic night.
“Ah man, it was fun, but I was nervous as hell,” Colón said. “I wasn’t scared, I was just nervous, but once I got up there the nerves went away. People laughed. It wasn’t my strongest set, but people laughed and when I got off it was a magical high. I just kept doing it every weekend and the more you do anything, the better you get.”
Upon returning to North Carolina, Colón took a job as a tutor with UNCP and began serving as master of ceremonies for Fayetteville’s It’z Comedy Club. He also reconnected with some college friends who were in the midst of starting Horrible Folks Productions, Fayetteville’s only improv and sketch comedy troupe. Colón joined the troupe and has been performing with it ever since. More recently the comedian has also joined Raleigh’s Dirty South Improv troupe, while balancing that with continuing his stand-up comedy throughout the state.
In 2012, Colón took a job with Cumulus broadcasting, after a manager at the station approached Colón after one of his performances.
“[Colón] is a fun guy … his heart is really in improv comedy and stand-up,” said Jeff Davis, director of programming at Cumulus. “He played a character on my show once, a leprechaun, which was just absolutely hilarious and he has done some different character voices for commercials. His background in comedy has come in handy, for sure.”
Cumulus, which broadcasts WFMC-AM, 102.3-FM, ROCK 103-FM, WMUG-FM and Q98-FM, reaches more than 100,000 listeners each day across Cumberland, Robeson, Sampson, Moore, Lee, Harnett and Scotland counties. Colón sees the opportunity to produce commercials, do remotes and other on-air content as a natural progression in his career as a class clown.
“I love it because it is really an opportunity to do exactly what it is I have always wanted to do, work in media and entertaining,” Colón said. “It is a creative outlet. I love putting commercials together, coming up with ideas and doing some acting. The more I do it, the more I have come to really enjoy producing, even the technical part of it. Whatever you do, just keep doing it and you’ll develop a good sense for it.”
That goes for radio personalities, comedians and “weird” little kids.
James Johnson works for Civitas Media as a staff writer for The Robesonian.