WATERVILLE — Growing up, Juston McKinney wanted to be one of two things: a comedian or a cop. He ended up doing both.
McKinney, a Kittery native, is a former sheriff’s deputy with the York County Sheriff’s Department and a stand-up comedian who has appeared on Comedy Central, on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” and in stand-up clubs across the nation.
Saturday he will perform at the Waterville Opera House, his third stop in a 16-county tour of Maine called “Deer, Moose, Ticks & Hicks” that features humorous stories from McKinney’s time as a deputy in rural Maine.
A 1990 graduate of the Maine Criminal Justice Academy, McKinney, 42, spent 12 weeks in Waterville, where the academy then was based, during his training before he was a sheriff’s deputy for seven years. The academy has moved to Vassalboro since then.
Knowing he wanted to pursue a career in comedy, he eventually moved to New York City to get started.
His subject matter includes “white trash,” the state of New Hampshire and how to shoot a deer; but for the current tour, McKinney said he is focusing on life in rural Maine.
“It’s about being a cop and all the crazy stuff I have seen, the stuff that they didn’t teach us in training — basically, anything you can imagine in rural Maine,” McKinney said Friday in a phone interview.
There’s the time McKinney got lost in his patrol area, a 500-square-mile area with just 14 towns not big enough to have their own police stations, and so he pulled a man over to ask for directions. One of the towns near the area where he was lost, Parsonsfield, had a dirt road as its main street in the 1990s when McKinney began working there, he said.
“It’s weird. Everyone thinks of York County and they think of the coast. Rural Maine near the New Hampshire border is totally different,” he said.
There’s also the first time he had to shoot a deer after it was hit by a car.
Also, the brown uniform McKinney had to wear during hunting season, along with his partner deputy whose last name was Hicks, provide for more comedic fodder.
McKinney has been a guest on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” and “The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien.” He also has appeared on Comedy Central, which recently ran a one-hour special by McKinney called “Juston-McKinney — A Middle Class Hole.” He has appeared on the television show “The King of Queens” and formerly hosted his own weekly show on Sirius/XM radio called “Live From the Woods with Juston McKinney.”
McKinney, who lives in Newmarket, N.H., with his wife, children and dogs, has taken his routines all over the country but said he particularly has enjoyed his recent return to Maine.
“It’s been a blast,” he said. “Everyone can relate to the material, but there’s some things I don’t take out of New England.”
Rachel Ohm — 612-2368