Martin returns to the Permian Basin

Comedian William Lee Martin has the look of a fifth-generation Texan.

And he has the stories and comedy acts to show it.

Donning his cowboy hat, blue jeans and a belt buckle, the cowboy entertainer who grew up in Blue Mound, outside of Fort Worth, loves to grace the stage and make audiences laugh.

He’ll be bringing his show to Odessa with a 7:30 performance Saturday at Ector Theatre.

It’ll be his first trip back to the Permian Basin in at least 10 years.

“It’s been a long time,” Martin said in a phone interview. “For a long time they didn’t have a mid-size venue. They either had the big venue or a barn setting. It’s been about 10 years since I’ve been in Midland-Odessa.”

For the last 26 years, Martin has traveled all over, doing his comedy show which includes specials from CMT and Amazon Prime.

After graduating from college at the University of Texas-Arlington, Martin worked in advertising where he “hated every minute of it.”

“I don’t know if it was just that I grew up in rural Texas and now was in a cubicle or whatever it was but I hated the job,” Martin said. “I used to look out the fourth floor window and think ‘will a fourth floor jump kill me or just break my leg?’”

Then one day, Martin and the rest of his coworkers found themselves unemployed.

“Everybody lost their jobs,” Martin said. “We got sold to another company.”

Unsure of what to do, he said it was his grandmother who gave him some advice.

“She said ‘go home and look in the mirror and ask yourself if you’re happy because you’re almost 30 and I’ve never seen you smile,’” Martin said.

Except, Martin says that’s not what he did right away.

“I went home and got in a fetal position for five and a half months,” Martin said. “It would’ve been six but unemployment ran out in five and a half months back then.”

Eventually, he did come home one day and followed his grandmother’s advice.

“I was 30 and had a conversation with God that day and called my grandma and said since I was 5-years old, I wanted to be on stage and television and she said go for it,” Martin said.

He hasn’t looked back since.

He got on stage for the first time in May 1996 and since then, his career has taken off.

By the mid-2000s, he was opening shows for country singers Loretta Lynn and George Strait.

Martin credits his wife Michele Martin for helping him with his tour.

“She’s a corporate trainer,” William said. “She’s a big part of what I do. She’s one of the greatest sounding boards. She never laughs at the act and when I throw new bits at her, if she says it’s funny, then I know it’s funny. She’s the wife of a comedian so she’s heard comedy more than most but she has a great ear for it so when she says that’s funny, I know it’s going to work.”

This week’s show will be a part of his “HAWG Wild Comedy Tour,” a name he’s changed a few times in the past year.

Last year, his tour was called the “All-American Mutt Tour” which was based on a DNA test result that he received during the early stages of the pandemic.

“Two years ago, when we got back on tour, I had to take a DNA test and I found out that I was nothing more than a mutt,” Martin said. “There are 14 different countries flowing in my body and I thought, you know, I’m going to go on the ‘All-American Mutt Tour’ and with the world all divided, I want to unite everybody. Nobody wants to admit they’re a mutt.”

He also said it was going to be “clean,” but only by his standards of the word.

“A few years ago, I had a CMT special come out and I’m not saying I cussed a lot but we used a beep and they bleeped it because it was CMT. At one point, it sounded like the telegraph work on the Titanic with all the beeps. I rarely cuss in the shows now. But I said it was going to be clean and then I realized I still wanted to say stuff so I still wanted it to be adult without cussing.”

He then went with “Off the Leash” as a tour name.

“And then with everything going on in the world, I realized that at some point that I don’t have a good acronym,” Martin said. “Everyone has a good acronym.”

That’s when he came up with “HAWG Report.”

“HAWG actually stands for Heterosexual Average White Guy and that’s me,” Martin said. “I talk about life. We don’t talk about politics on stage. We just want to make people laugh for an hour and a half. We’re going through a hell of a time in our country and world right now and if there’s one thing the pandemic taught me it’s to get out and make as many people laugh as possible.”

It wasn’t until recently when his popularity rose even more with his hit specials in 2019 with “Standing in the Middle” and “The Nutcracker-A Christmas Standup Spectacular.”

But then came the COVID pandemic, which forced him, like every other comedian, to cancel shows.

“We self financed (the 2019 specials),” Martin said. “The hardest thing probably was getting out and tour when you put out these things and they both came out at the end of 2019 and then the world shut down in 2020. We just stayed in faith the whole time that everything was going to work out.”

However, the success of “Standing in the Middle” and “The Nutcracker-A Christmas Standup Spectacular” helped him gain more fans.

Both specials were picked up by Comedy Dynamics and placed on Amazon Prime, Apple TV and other streaming platforms.

“As it turned out, Amazon Prime picked them both up and really put us on the map in the country and parts of the world,” Martin said. “I’m getting emails and replies from places like Australia and France and Germany and Spain. I don’t know how they feel about Americans but they do love Texans.”

Martin has seen the number of his followers on social media grow.

“Thankfully, during the pandemic, we grew the numbers, social media-wise,” Martin said. “We started out with about 40,000 followers on Facebook in January of 2020 and because of the lockdown and getting on Facebook live but we have like 500,000 followers now.”

The news was made even sweeter when he was able to return to the stage and perform in front an audience.

“You know, the first time that I did a show (after lockdown), someone asked me if I was ready for the show because it was 120 days since I did a show, the longest stretch that I’ve gone in my 26 year career,” Martin said. “Someone asked me if I was all prepared. I was like, no. It’s like college algebra. I waited until the last minute and crammed it all in an hour the night before. But as soon as I hit the boards, it was a completely different feeling. When something’s taken away from you that you absolutely love and it’s your passion and then, through no fault of your own, you can’t do it for 120 days, it was like going from earth to heaven. I was in my element.”

Martin said he learned a few lessons from that stretch during lockdown.

“Coming out of that thing, it taught me a whole lot of lessons, that I’m going to go for everything that I possibly have in my arsenal with songwriting and screenwriting and acting and that’s what we’ve done since lockdown ended,” Martin said.

For more information about the show, go to

If you go

  • What: William Lee Martin “HAWG Wild Comedy Tour.”
  • When: 7:30 p.m. Aug. 20.
  • Where: Ector Theatre.
  • Where to purchase tickets: