August 14, 2002 News & Features » Cover Story


Runner up: Bryan Stevenson, 29 

"I like to balance things on my head."

"She was like, 'What are we going to do with that?'" He parked it on his lawn in the West End, leading his neighbor, who assumed the vehicle had been abandoned by thieves, to call the police. Luckily (or unluckily, his wife might say), Stevenson saved it from the tow truck and now cruises proudly around town.

He works as a civil engineer. He has a perpetual grin and a pronounced silly side. He has stories galore, most of them about some sort of personal injury: the sewing-machine needle in the finger, the Frisbee in the chin, the fly that flew into his ear. The upside of getting injured, he figures, is that people laugh when you tell them about it.

"That's pretty much who I am," Stevenson says. "I seem to be, like, the, I guess, the butt of jokes, but not really, not in a bad way. You're only the butt of jokes if you take it wrong. I don't mind taking that role, playing the fool."

His other claims to fame: "I like to balance things on my head" — such as a 10-level tower of wooden blocks from a Jenga game. He's also part of an improv comic troupe, Vitreous Humor, which performs occasionally at Comedy Alley. "It's a lot of fun," he says. "Sometimes it's not so much fun to watch." The group plays games a la "Whose Line is it Anyway?" One of his favorites is "185 Things," he says. Huh?

Pick an object, Stevenson says. How about something with no comedic potential: doorknobs. He takes a breath. "185 doorknobs walk into a bar," he says, "and they order 185 beers. And the bartender says, 'I'm sorry, you're going to have to wait your turn.'" Groan or laugh? At least he was quick.

And, he says, "I win weird things," like the Galaxie. Or a turkey-calling contest at Virginia Tech, which netted him a basket of snacks and a stereo. He demonstrates. His high-pitched, ululating gobble is guaranteed to raise goose bumps.

Or radio contests, which Stevenson used to enter all the time as a student. Oddly enough, he says, he always won tickets to events he didn't want to attend: Ozzy Osbourne's Ozzmosis concert, the musical "Jesus Christ Superstar," and wrestling matches.

Of course, the simple thrill of winning matters more than the reward, he says. Could that be why he wants to be on Style's cover? "I figured this would be my only shot," Stevenson says. And it would be one more anecdote for his repertoire. "I don't need more stories," he wrote in his contest entry, "but if you put me on the cover it might be the best one yet. ... And I know people would keep this issue. At least until the next one comes out." S

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