Aaron Kleiber
Photo by Louis Stein.

From “climbing atop his grandmother’s coffee table as a child to being voted class clown in high school to taking the stage at comedy clubs across North America,” Aaron Kleiber says he’s been entertaining his entire life. Known for his trademark “dad humor,” the Steel Valley native proves that you don’t have to live in LA or Chicago to be a nationally-acclaimed, in-demand headliner.

In 2013, Kleiber made his national stand-up debut on AXS TV’s “Gotham Comedy Live.” Also an accomplished comedic actor, Aaron has appeared in numerous films, TV shows and podcasts (he’s the face of Grover Cleveland in those Pennsylvania Lottery commercials). When in LA, he’s a regular at the Laugh Factory and Hollywood Improv.

Best part of your job?

My schedule and freedom to make time for my family. Working for myself is the best and the worst, haha.

What do you think is the funniest thing about Pittsburgh?

We have literally EVERYONE. It’s a cast of characters that never gets old.

What’s your big idea for Pittsburgh?

I want Pittsburgh to be seen by the entertainment industry as a “comedy city” where they can come and find new talent ready for the road or television. Since I started stand-up nine years ago (I was in the improv scene for 10 years before that), Pittsburgh’s comedy scene has blown up exponentially with shows and open mics, plus Arcade Comedy Theater’s success has been incredible (where I serve as Stand-up Director). I started two shows as soon as I began stand-up in 2009 to get more stage time, and comics followed — starting great shows and now getting up every night to be better. I love that Pittsburgh can now sustain a half-dozen comedy shows in a weekend; that says a lot about a scene.

Photo by Louis Stein.

What are your most memorable comedy experiences in Pittsburgh?

Opening for Sinbad at Carnegie Library when I was just a year in (Drusky believed in me!), Billy Gardell having me be a part of his special filmed at the Byham when I was a young comic (Jim Krenn vouched for and introduced me), and it’s also always exciting seeing local comics working hard, going on the road and doing cool things.

Who is your favorite comedian?

This is so hard. I’ve had a love of comedy film/tv and stand-up for so long. And then you get to work with legends and see things a little differently. I love Steve Martin for his creativity, Bill Murray for his personality, Martin Lawrence for his performance ability and silliness on stage, and Sinbad cause he’s incredible (he has never written down a single joke).

How does Pittsburgh inspire your work?

I love that Pittsburghers always find a way to succeed. The hustle in this city is incredible and inspiring.

What is the funniest thing that’s ever happened to you in Pittsburgh?

When a friend choked on a hotdog, got the Heimlich and threw up … in the Pirates owner’s box, with Kevin McClatchy and a bunch of other famous people present!

What is the one thing that would surprise Pittsburghers most about you?

That I was a youth pastor and went to Geneva College for that. Or that I was an ice hockey goalie for about 16 years (I was the goalie that Gus the Groundhog scored on in the PA Lottery commercial last year haha!)

Podcast you’re addicted to?

Besides mine? Lol. Actually, “Astonishing Legends” about history, mystery and the paranormal. So good. And Pittsburgher Addi Twigg’s (frontwoman for the band The Telephone Line) podcast “Add It Up” — incredible interviewer and so fun and serious all at once, just great conversation.

Ideal date night?

My wife and I would sit in a dumpster for date night as long as the kids weren’t with us, lol.

Your not-so-secret Pittsburgh spot?

Steel Valley Roasters in Homestead is my “office.”

Aaron taping his new comedy special at Carnegie Music Hall in Homestead. Photo by Dave Rubin.

At what Pittsburgh restaurant do you always order dessert?

Berry Mascarpone at Pleasure Bar (SWEET LORD JESUS).

Who should be the unofficial Mayor of Pittsburgh?

Rick Sebak, hands-down.

What upcoming events are you excited to attend?

My comedy special “No Vacations” filmed on March 3 at Carnegie Music Hall in Homestead is in post-production right now at Animal Studios; I just saw the rough cut and it’s very exciting to see it come together. Continuing to have a great showcase of comedy every Monday at Pleasure Bar in Bloomfield. It’s a great space we magically change into a comedy club room every week (longest-running independent show in Pittsburgh since 2011) — some great comics in the scene had their first set there.

I’m excited to “step up our game” for my GrownDadBusiness podcast that I co-host with Jason Clark; we’ve been so occupied with other things that we want to focus on making the podcast more creative and fun. We have a lot of listeners already without even trying, so I guess we should start trying! That’s why I just added Adam Cicco, associate creative director at Marc USA, as a producer.

On May 20, I will be performing for thousands of people at the Rock on the Range music festival in Columbus; it’s one of the biggest in the country.

See who else is NEXT Up here.

Have a NEXT Up suggestion? Email us!

Jennifer Baron

Jennifer has worked at the Mattress Factory, Brooklyn Museum of Art and Dahesh Museum of Art and is co-author of Pittsburgh Signs Project: 250 Signs of Western Pennsylvania. She also is co-coordinator...