MERCED — Adam Carolla's known worldwide for his matter-of-fact, average-Joe demeanor and his ability to ruffle some feathers along the way.
However, the road to comedy wasn't laid out in the stars for 48-year-old Carolla. It's something he had to work at.
He worked in construction in his 20s, but knew he was "pretty good" at comedy and decided to give it a try. "I've always wanted to do something, I just didn't know what to do," he said. "I wanted to get out of construction about 10 seconds after I started."
Carolla will be constructing only laughs this Saturday in Merced, where he'll headline the MiddleState Independent Comedy Film Festival.
While Saturday's event includes an entire day of independent films and other attractions, many are anticipating Carolla's performance to be the highlight of the festivities.
Carolla said he had to "train" with stand-up and improvisation to become a comedian.
"I knew I didn't know anything about it other than I was funny," he said. "I knew I was going to have to spend my entire 20s training. That's what I did. I swung a hammer during the day, and I trained at night."
Carolla said he did anything he could to build his presence and get noticed.
"I wasn't at the bottom, I was at nowhere," he said. "The bottom at least would've been somewhere."
One of his breaks came when he met Jimmy Kimmel, who co-hosted "The Man Show" on Comedy Central with Carolla from 1999 to 2003.
Carolla met his future co-host at a boxing match Kimmel was covering for a local radio station in Southern California.
"I met him and I grabbed onto him with both hands," Carolla said. "I was like 'Oh my God, finally, I met somebody who's funny, and he's in radio and he knows some people and he can help me.' "
'He believed in me'
The duo became friends after that, and as Kimmel got Carolla on the radio more often, he started getting more notoriety and eventually got a gig as a host on a radio show known as "Loveline."
"For me it was all I had, and we just hit it off, and he believed in me," Carolla said. "He thought I was funny. He's one of the first guys I ever met who recognized that I was funny."
Carolla is still making waves on his podcast -- "The Adam Carolla Show" -- which holds the record as the most downloaded podcast of all time.
His brand of humor will be on display at 9 p.m. Saturday at the Merced Theatre as part of the comedy film festival.
"It's going to be 90 minutes-plus of my nasally drone, so get ready for that," he said.
The show will include stories, some philosophy and a little bit of inspiration, Carolla said.
"If you like me, you'll like the show, and if you don't like me, you'll probably enjoy the show anyway," he said.
Tom Price, publisher of the Downtown Life Magazine, organized the festival along with Joey Essig, Brian Strong and Ben Davidson.
Price said organizers wanted to bring in a big-name performer to raise the event's profile this year. He hopes Carolla will bring out a more diverse group of people to experience the event.
"We hope what happens is it gives the whole event more exposure," he said. "It should be an amazing day downtown."
Though this is the third annual MiddleState Independent Comedy Film Festival, this event started four years ago and has evolved.
"We're learning as we go," Price said. "Overall, this is a great chance to spend the day downtown."
This is the first time the festival's been a two-day event, Price said. It starts with a reception from 7 to 9 p.m. today at the Merced Multicultural Arts Center, where attendees can learn about the festival, watch trailers for the next-day's films and get gifts from event sponsors.
Saturday's festivities start at 11:30 a.m. and wrap up with Carolla's performance, which starts at 9 p.m. at the Merced Theatre.
Reporter Mike North can be reached at (209) 385-2453 or email@example.com.
MiddleState Independent Comedy Film Festival and comedy by Adam Carolla
WHERE: Merced Theatre, 301 W. Main St.
Today -- 7 to 10 p.m., opening reception (free), at the Merced Multicultural Arts Center, 645 W. Main St.
Saturday -- Film festival, 11:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.; Adam Carolla, 9 p.m.
TICKETS: All-film pass, $34; Carolla only, $29-$49; all-festival pass, $52-$71