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The Cut-Up Kid

Youth does not deter this Cleveland comic.

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Josh Hunt doesn't let the fact that he's only 18 stop him from going to the bars. When his favorite comedians are in town, he's first in line at the club's doors. "I want to learn from others," says Hunt, who's been fine-tuning his stand-up routine on Cleveland's comedy circuit since he was 14. "But [sometimes] it's hard for me to get into the clubs to watch a show, because I'm under 21."

Hunt's figured out a way to sidestep the age limit: He tracks down a comic's hotel room, asks for his manager, and begs to meet the comedian after a performance. "I say, 'Hey, I'm a big fan. I want to watch your show. Can you help me out? I'm only 18,'" explains Hunt, who graduates from Lakewood's St. Edward High School next month.

Most of the time, it works. Hunt has schmoozed with Lou Ramey, Thea Vidale, and René Hicks after their Hilarities shows. He asked Bill Burr to autograph the funnyman's CD and cornered Chris Titus between sets at the Improv's bar. "His advice was 'Don't be afraid of [the audience],'" he says. "'They're not doing [the comedy]. You're doing it.'"

Hunt will test New York audiences in June, when he starts classes at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy. He plans to try out his routine at open mics at places like Stand Up New York, where Robin Williams and Jerry Seinfeld are regulars.

Does Hunt have the funny? Here's his take on teen dating: "I know girls in relationships want big, strong, tough guys to protect them. That's why I play a lot of football." Pause. "On PlayStation."

And on attending St. Ed's: "It's an all-guys Catholic school in Lakewood. It's the gayest thing I've ever heard in my life."

The jokes need some work, Hunt admits. He irons out the kinks by studying his idols: George Carlin, Bill Maher, and Bernie Mac, to name a few. "They're the kind of comics that push the envelope and put truth in their comedy," he explains. "And they don't care how old [a comedian is], just as long as [he's] funny."

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