“I owe La Porte.”
These are the words that motivate La Porte’s Ben Konowitz to give back to the town that has given so much to him. Through his small family business, his passion for local charity events, and his hilarious persona, he has done just that, while also leaving an enormous impact on each and every person he meets.
Born and raised in La Porte, Konowitz attended Indiana University for college and spent a few post-graduation years in California, but he quickly realized that he wanted to return “home.”
“I’m La Porte born and bred, all the way through,” he said with pride. “As you get older, you realize that what’s truly important is being able to feel grounded with the people around you that make up the most important parts of your life, and that was here.”
From there, he partnered with his dad in La Porte Seamless Gutter and is transitioning to take over the when his father retires. Recently, he also founded the nonprofit organization La Porte Seamless Charity, better known as Big Comedy at the Little Theatre or Big Comedy La Porte. What started as a way to get his friends to come watch him perform a comedy show has now turned into a perfect way for Konowitz to combine his love of comedy and his love of charity work.
He said, “We rented out the Little Theatre and I put on a show, and it sold out in two hours. Everybody wanted tickets. I realized that there’s a demand here, so we did it again and again. Now, we’ve done eight shows, all sold out, and we’ve raised $50,000, all of it going toward local La Porte charities.”
Big Comedy has also begun to utilize La Porte’s Civic Auditorium for Inappropriate Trivia Nights and an 80s Prom, the success of those events mirroring that of his Little Theatre shows.
Konowitz has always been told that he is a “funny guy,” but it took years for him to realize that he could make a career out of his humor. In college he wrote jokes and punch lines on notecards and even tried them out on strangers, but he did not think to even try stand-up until a decade later in life.
“I was a bit of a late bloomer,” he laughed. “I was bitten by the bug a long time ago, but I did something with it when I was 31.”
Nonetheless, Konowitz has found his niche, mixing his comical wit with his love of helping others. Just about everything that he does he does thinking, “How can I do that for charity?”
“I like the idea of spending your free time doing something giving back,” he said. “I think some people have a big hiccup with charity work, because they think it has to be boring and monotonous and hard to do, but it can be fun if you do it the right way.”
Most recently, Konowitz shaved his head for his friend’s event in Texas benefitting St. Baldrick’s Foundation, and he asked his Facebook friends to donate, using a tattoo as an incentive. The inspiration for the tattoo, a frog with a glass butt, came from a puzzling quote that Konowitz once mentioned on his weekly movie podcast, “Go Flix Yourself.”
“When I was growing up,” he explained, “My dad said that if a frog had a glass butt, it would only hop once,” he shared. “I didn’t understand it, but I said it on my podcast, and everyone sat there stone-faced, so it became this really big running joke that I don’t know what I’m talking about when it comes to frog idioms.”
In less than a month, after shattering his previous goals and creating new ones, he had received a total of $4,533 in donations, earning himself a promised trip to a tattoo parlor and a fun story to tell in the name of a good cause.
Aside from wanting to help La Porte through his charity work, Konowitz is just extremely proud of his hometown’s growth and progress, as well as the dedication that its leaders have to keep it moving forward.
“If there’s nothing to do here in La Porte, let’s make something to do here in La Porte,” he said. “People like to dump on it, but there’s nothing wrong with this town. Mayor Blair [Milo] coined the phrase ‘Hub of Awesome,’ and I think that’s incredible. It’s not a misnomer for our town whatsoever; it is awesome here.”
With his humor and hard work running hand in hand, Konowitz has undoubtedly made La Porte that much more awesome. Mayor Milo even declared March 24, 2017, as “Ben Konowitz Day” in the City of La Porte, because that pride and appreciation that he feels for his town is reciprocated right back to him.
While Konowitz is not looking to expand the size of his current endeavors (besides gaining more listeners to his podcast), he is readily available on Facebook to hear from interested volunteers or anyone looking for help or advice with their own charity events.