Live Freeze then Die
Juston McKinneyDecember 03. 2014 10:22PM
Comedian Juston McKinney has become a sort of comical ambassador to New Hampshire - or actually, he's more like, what's the opposite of an ambassador?
But he gets it. And he's not afraid to tell it like it is.
He talks about winters in New Hampshire. Power outages. Freak snowstorms, which are really more of a regular occurrence in these parts, and his theory that the Old Man of the Mountain died by freezing to death. "What do you think happened to the Old Man of the Mountain?" he says on stage. "He froze. You can't handle that year after year -- wind-chill. He was made of STONE and he couldn't take it."
Then there's his tagline "Live, Freeze, then Die" which appears on t-shirts that feature a photo of the Old Man of the Mountain plunging to his death with the name of the state spelled "New Hampsha."
And he often dons that tee on stage underneath a flannel shirt - the way we Yankees are supposed to dress as if he wants to portray a caricature of the Yankee stereotype. Yet it's a caricature that speaks the truth, and that's what makes it so funny. Go check your closet. There's at least one flannel shirt in there and you know it. But better yet, Juston knows it. Juston is a native Mainer, but we'll call him our own because he lives here now and he doesn't seem to be going anywhere.
In a recent skit about 'Black Friday' (which can be found on You Tube) he even referred to one of his reasons why.
"You know what people in Massachusetts say about New Hampshire? They say there's no sales tax. That's where I want to live the rest of my life," he said.
And he tweeted this on November 28, 2014, when the state experienced its 4th worst power outage in its history. "In New Hampshire a lot of people are saving a lot of money this Black Friday...on their electricity." Hashtag NH. It's a gift that Juston has, the gift of being about to point out the obvious, but in a sarcastically funny way, and that gift is what makes him so relatable.
If we go back to where it all began, Juston was born in Portsmouth. He spent his grammar school years at the Little Harbor School there before moving across the bridge to Kittery, Maine. After earning his associates degree from Southern Maine Vocational Technical Institute, he then served as a deputy Sheriff in York County, patrolling the border between Maine and New Hampshire where he grew up. Early on, his material centered around his police work and he often dressed as a cop for stand up shows. He has joked that New Hampshire takes the "Live Free or Die thing a little too serious," and described that state as "like Mexico; people go running across the border" because we have no seatbelt laws, no sales tax, and legal fireworks laws.
After he took on some work teaching the D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program and encouraging kids to stay away from drugs and follow their dreams. He soon took his own advice, moving to Boston to pursue a career in stand-up. He still worked part-time patrolling in Maine, working around comedy shows. He resigned from the department after seven years when his comedy career began to take off. He ended up in New York City, where he became a regular at clubs like the Comic Strip Live, Dangerfields, and the Gotham Comedy Club. In 1998, he signed a six-figure development deal with Warner Brothers to write and star in his own sitcom. The show was never made but the following year he signed another deal - this time with CBS Productions - but that show was bumped by the arrival of reality television when Survivor and Big Brother developed large followings and sitcoms were suddenly a rarity on television.
By 2001, Juston moved to Los Angeles, becomming a regular at the Improv. In 2002, he appeared on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno and made a return appearance in 2004. In 2007 he was selected to be a part of the Blue Collar Comedy Next Generation Tour, hosted by Bill Engvall. The show aired on TBS and was released on DVD and CD by Warner Brothers. He has appeared several times on Comedy Central and has his own half-hour "Comedy Central Presents..." special.
In 2010, McKinney created a parody to "New York State of Mind" called "New Dad State of Mind" when he became a new father. That year he also appeared on the Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien and premiered his own one-hour Comedy Central special titled "A Middle-Class Hole," a pun on New Hampshire's use of the term "Mass-Holes."
His television credits include The King of Queens, The Sidney Lumet drama, and 100 Centre Street. Among his film credits are The Zoo Keeper and Here Comes the Boom. He is currently developing his own web series "Hosed" into a full-length feature film. He has also hosted his own radio program on Sirius/XM Radio, "Live from the Woods with Juston McKinney."
He has been named the Best Comedian in New Hampshire by New Hampshire Magazine. Juston has settled in the Granite State with his wife, children and dogs.