Jim was scheduled to perform at the 2016 Limestone Comedy Festival before he passed away at 48 after a cancer diagnosis.
When you're a comedian in Indiana you have to love it. There isn't a clear path to success. You aren't surrounded by peers that are getting sitcoms or Comedy Central specials. You have to carve it out yourself. It takes consistent energy to do it at all. And even more to do something that is all your own. Jim Leugers did that.
"[His comedic voice] was cynical and pessimistic because it was. But it was also silly and stupid and smart. It was everything..." says Melinda Kashner a Bloomington comic who moved to Los Angeles. "[His physical voice] was a giant bear and [his voice was] a silky, silky smooth teddybear man's."
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"He didn't have a shtick, he was just himself." says Kashner.
Jim was a comedian who put so much thought and care into his work that it raised the bar for comedy in Indiana.
"In a small comedy scene like we have in Indiana, you're basically friends with everybody for the most part." says Mat Alano-Martin, comedian and co-founder of The Limestone Comedy Festival. "There are the comics that aren't only just in your social group and are trying to do it but [there are comics] that write at a level of creativity that inspires you. And Jim was definitely one of those guys for me. ... Every time I watched him on stage it was a joy. He inspired me by making me happy."
Jim's presence in the Indiana comedy off stage scene helped other comedians succeed as well.
"He made me worry less," says Bloomington comedian David Britton. "Comics before their set, we're kinda wired and in our [own] heads. But Jim would always sit back and relax." Britton says, " And so I knew I could sit with Jim if I just wanted to relax. That's a hard thing to get over, going to shows where he normally is and he's just not there. There's a hole. There's this missing thing that should be there."
Leuger is still in the voices (and jokes) of comedians who are performing all over the U.S., and especially in Indiana. I hope he's in mine a little bit now.
The Limestone Comedy Festival will pay a tribute to Jim Leugers during its opening show Thursday night.
Jim Leugers' comedy career was a service to Indiana. He performed stand-up all around the state, founded a comedy show called An Evening With The Authors – a comedy show comprised of fake authors reading from their hilariously fake books – and could do a spot-on Phil Harmon impression.