The Veteran Comedian

Harnessing the power of laughter for a good cause

In the mid-2000s, Josh Novey was living in Des Moines and not enjoying his current situation. On a whim he visited an army recruiter to check out his options. A week later with papers signed, Josh was enrolled in basic training.

Josh served four years in the U.S. Army as a medic, including 16 months in Iraq, before ending his service in 2009. “I came out of the army in a bad spot mentally–smoking, drinking, and using everything I could to destroy myself,” Josh said.  

Josh moved to Sioux City immediately after returning to the states. His first winter back in Iowa turned out to be one of the worst snow seasons on record.  “As soon as the driveway melted enough, I packed up everything and moved to Florida,” Josh said. 

A good friend from the army lived in Gainesville. His friend's family also happened to be believers, and they began inviting Josh to spend time with their church group. One night Josh accepted their invitation to a game night. 

“I expected weird Christians, but everyone was really nice and cool. We played Bananagrams for about four hours, and I was invited back,” Josh said.

Josh felt like he was able to let his guard down with this newly found group of Christian friends. Over the next six months, Josh did a lot of research about the Gospel. Throughout this slow process he weighed the cost of following the Lord. In the end, he discovered there was only one answer. 

The night of his salvation Josh attended a question and answer session at a local church and heard an audible voice say, “Hey man, you just gotta do it.” Josh talked with a pastor that night and accepted Christ. That was the last time he ever had a nightmare or PTSD flashback. 

After a few years in Gainesville with a local church, Josh moved back to Des Moines to be closer to family. Based on a recommendation, he decided to give Walnut Creek a try. “Walking out of the Downtown church I saw two of my closest friends from my Bible study in Florida who had also recently moved to the area. That was a sign moment,” Josh said. He knew Walnut Creek was where God was placing him.

Comedy for a Cause
During this time, the Lord was also using Josh’s comedic talents for his glory. The youngest of four, Josh never had a fear of public speaking. “I was constantly yelling to get attention,” Josh said.  

Josh’s time spent as a medic in the army served to grow this gift for comedy. “I found I had a gift over there, I was able to use humor to add levity to a situation and have the ability to brighten those up around me when they desperately needed it,” Josh said. “Nothing in this world makes me as happy or feel as purposeful as being a comedian."

Josh began his career with open mic nights and improv classes. “You’re really bad for about four years and then around year three or four, you start to get good and the opportunity for making money will start to come out,” Josh said. 

He plans clean sets no matter the audience. “The biggest thing I want when I get done with a show is for the admiration and attention to move from God through me and into a crowd,” Josh said.  “I want to look out and see how individuals were positively affected within the crowd.”  

People have come up to him after a show and shared how they haven’t laughed in six months and were able to find humor in his show. Or some people have thanked him for giving them an hour where they didn’t have to think about their severe illness. “I want to put on a good show, to be funny and professional and to back up what I’m doing with talent and work ethic,” Josh said. 

Although he has impacted many lives while on the road, all the travel makes it difficult to keep up with things at home.  “I’m rarely home on the weekends, but I do go to whatever church is near my hotel when I’m on the road,” Josh said. 

“Every time I give control over to God, He does way better than what I could ever do."

Josh travels mostly in the Midwest and drives hundreds of miles each week. This allows him to be back in Des Moines for Monday night Bible study. “My Community Group is my home church. It’s where I put my focus in being in community and a positive member of something,” Josh said.

Josh does not focus his comedy on one specific genre or population but will do performances from nursing homes to corporations. He works diligently to put together many different sets.   Josh filmed his first live DVD at the Temple Theater this March. As his work expands, he has had to learn to trust in the Lord more and more. “Every time I give control over to God, He does way better than what I could ever do,” Josh said.