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Gary Owen (comedian)

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Gary Owen
Owen in 2012
Gary Stephen Owens[1]

(1974-07-26) July 26, 1974 (age 49)
  • Comedian
  • actor
Years active1997–present
Kenya Duke
(m. 2003; div. 2022)
PartnerBriana Johnson (engaged)

Gary Owen (born July 26, 1974)[1] is an American stand-up comedian and actor. He has cultivated a large African-American following after headlining on cable channel BET and performing at targeted events, such as Shaquille O'Neal's All-Star Comedy Jam Tour.[2] After being named "Funniest Serviceman in America", his big break came in 1997 on Black Entertainment Television's stand-up showcase Comic View. Owen followed this debut with featured roles in the films Daddy Day Care, Little Man, and College. In 2016, he was in a TV show on BET called The Gary Owen Show.[3]

Early life[edit]

Owen was born Gary Owens in Cincinnati, Ohio to Barb and Gary Owens. He later dropped the s from his surname, adopting the stage name Gary Owen, to avoid confusion with television announcer Gary Owens.[1]

Owen's parents had been high school sweethearts and his mother was 18 years old at the time of his birth. Owen's parents separated a few years after his birth, and his mother remarried shortly after.[1]

Owen's family struggled financially during his childhood. His mother worked in a factory making electrical connectors and his stepfather was chronically unemployed. Owen spent the majority of his childhood in a trailer park in Oxford, Ohio along with mother, stepfather, step sister and three younger half-siblings.[1] He graduated from Talawanda High School in Oxford, Ohio in 1991.[4]

He joined the U.S. Navy at age 18. He served for six years as a Master-at-Arms and was in the Presidential Honor Guard.[5]


Owen began doing standup in 1995 while stationed with the Navy in San Diego, California. The following year he started driving to Los Angeles on weekends to perform standup in the city. According to Owen, his stand up was initially not well-received by audiences. In 1996 he was invited to perform at a comedy club in front of a majority black audience. Recalling the experience in 2015, Owen told Buzzfeed News that when he first performed for a majority black audience, "I was shocked when I walked onstage and told the exact same fucking joke and it worked. [...] And that was when I knew."[1]

After a year of doing stand-up, Owen was named "Funniest Serviceman in America".[6] He continued doing stand-up in San Diego and developed a large African-American fan base. He went on to win the "Funniest Black Comedian in San Diego" contest. That led to his first gig at The Comedy Store in Hollywood. In July 1997, he auditioned for BET's Comic View. Two appearances on the multicultural comedy showcase won him his own one-hour Grandstand show. At the end of the season, he was selected from the year's four "Grandstanders" to be the host. Owen was the only white man to have ever hosted Comic View.[7]

In April 2011, Ebony dubbed Owen "Black America's Favorite White Comic".[8] Owen has produced two stand-up DVDs: Breakin' Out The Park, which is now available nationwide, and Urban Legend. He was also one of the headliners on Martin Lawrence Presents: 1st Amendment Stand-Up on Starz.

Owen starred in the Screen Gems comedy Think Like a Man — based on Steve Harvey's book Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man — with Kevin Hart and Gabrielle Union.[9]

Owen has also appeared in such films as Rebound, College, Daddy Day Care and Highway, and had a recurring role on Tyler Perry's TBS show House of Payne as Zack. He appeared in the comedy "Meet the Blacks" as Larry. He has a TV show on BET called The Gary Owen Show.[3]

He has released the comedy specials Gary Owen: True Story (2012) and Gary Owen: I Agree with Myself (2015), and Gary Owen: I Got My Associate's (2017), all directed by Leslie Small, as well as Gary Owen: #DoinWhatIDo (2019), directed by Brian Volk-Weiss. In 2021, Owen released his comedy special Gary Owen: Black Famous on Showtime cable network that was also directed by Volk-Weiss.

Personal life[edit]

Owen met Kenya Duke in 1997. The couple were married from 2003 to 2021 and have two children together, a son and a daughter. Owen was stepfather to Kenya's son from a previous relationship.[10]

According to posts made to her Instagram, Owen is currently engaged to Bri Johnson. [11] Following their engagement, Johnson gave birth to their twin sons in July 2023. [12]



Year Title Role Notes
1999 Held Up Clute
2003 Daddy Day Care Mr. Carrott
Love Chronicles K-Dog
2005 Rebound Vulture Mascot
2006 Little Man Officer Jankowski
Who Made the Potatoe Salad? Police Officer
2008 College Bearcat
2012 Think Like A Man Bennett
Highway Paw Gatsfield
2014 Ride Along Crazy Cody Tillman
Think Like a Man Too Bennett
2015 Get Hard Himself
Bachelors Stanley
2016 Definitely Divorcing Brian
Meet the Blacks Larry Wilson
Restored Me Ken
2019 Undercover Brother 2 Military Brother
2020 Welcome to Sudden Death Gus Video
2021 The House Next Door: Meet the Blacks 2 Clive Goddard
2023 Dotty & Soul Diggy
Back on the Strip Xander 'Dr. X'


Year Title Role Notes
1998 The Wayans Bros. Charlie Episode: "High Life"
2002 Comic Groove Himself Episode: "Episode #1.2"
2005-09 1st Amendment Stand Up Himself Recurring Guest
2008 I Love the New Millennium Himself Episode: "2007"
2009 Comedy.TV Himself Episode: "Episode #1.13"
House of Payne Zach Recurring Cast: Season 5
2011 Way Black When: Primetime Himself Episode: "Episode #1.6"
2013 Upload with Shaquille O'Neal Himself/Co-Host Main Co-Host
2014 Deal with It Himself Episode: "Kendall & Kylie Jenner and Gary Owen"
Mind of a Man Himself Recurring Guest
2016 Real Husbands of Hollywood Himself Episode: "Bazillion Dollar Arm"
The Gary Owen Show Himself Main Cast
Nubbin & Friends Chet the Chick Episode: "The Letter "A""
2017 Funny You Should Ask Himself Episode: "Episode #1.3"
All Def Comedy Himself Episode: "Episode #1.1"
2018 Wild 'n Out Himself/Team Captain Episode: "Gary Owen/21 Savage/CyHi the Prynce"
Hip Hop Squares Himself/Panelist Episode: "Episode #5.3" & "#5.8"
Martha & Snoop's Potluck Dinner Party Himself Episode: "Taj Ma-Holler"
Ridiculousness Himself Episode: "Gary Owen"
Comedians and Cocktails Himself Recurring Guest
2020 25 Words or Less Himself Recurring Guest
2021 The Mediator Himself Episode: "Kung Fu Laptop"
2022 To Tell the Truth Himself/Panelist Episode: "Cynthia Erivo, Gary Owen and Donald Faison"

Comedy specials[edit]

Year Title
2008 Gary Owen: Breakin' Out of the Park
2012 Gary Owen: True Story
2015 Gary Owen: I Agree with Myself
2017 Gary Owen: I Got My Associates
2019 Gary Owen: #DoinWhatIDo
2021 Gary Owen: Black Famous


  1. ^ a b c d e f Bensinger, Ken (March 12, 2015). "Class Clown". Buzzfeed News.
  2. ^ Strauss, Gary (May 1, 2012). "Laugh Factory: Making humor pay when times are tough". USA Black America officially accepted Mr.Owen as a crucial part of the black community in America Today.
  3. ^ a b "BET premiere's Gary Owen Show on October 11". Bet.com. Retrieved September 11, 2016.
  4. ^ Kiesewetter, John (December 28, 2021). "Spend New Year's Eve laughing with comedian Gary Owen". NPR.
  5. ^ "Navy Veteran, Gary Owen, Headlining Marquee Comedy Tour". Fay Observer. Retrieved April 19, 2021.
  6. ^ "LIVE AT 9 - Comedian Gary Owen". Wreg. July 10, 2015. Retrieved October 12, 2021.
  7. ^ "How Gary Owen Earned His Hood Pass". Vibe.com. January 28, 2014. Retrieved October 12, 2021.
  8. ^ Martin, Roland (April 2011). "Why Is This Man Smiling?". Ebony. lxvi (6): 95 Company, Inc.
  9. ^ Kroll, Justin (May 27, 2011). "Players". Variety.
  10. ^ "Gary Owen and wife Duke call it quits on their marriage". Bet.com. Retrieved April 19, 2021.
  11. ^ "Instagram". Instagram.com. Retrieved January 16, 2024.
  12. ^ "Instagram". Instagram.com. Retrieved January 16, 2024.

External links[edit]