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Diane Dean-Epps: writer, comedian

Eileen JoyceDiane Dean-Epps (left) discusses the editing of a letter written by Jessica Howell Wednesday in an advanced television production class at Nevada Union High.
ALL | GrassValleyArchive

Diane Dean-Epps’ advanced television production class is not a typical high school class.

The 30 students produce news shows that air live three to four times weekly at Nevada Union High.



Dean-Epps, a “30ish-40ish-old,” has taught for nine years, the last five at NU. She doesn’t just lecture to her students. Instead, Dean-Epps dances around the classroom, gestures with her hands and arms, and cracks jokes.




Comedy is in her blood.

Until seven years ago, Dean-Epps did stand-up comedy in Sacramento. She also did promos and commercials for KCRA-TV and was audience coordinator at the station’s show “TV Lite,” which meant she told jokes to the audience before the show.

Dean-Epps’ humor spills into the classroom.

“I have news for you, class,” she said excitedly Wednesday to her advanced TV production class. “No, I’m not pregnant,” Dean-Epps deadpanned. She paused a few seconds before adding, “I like to write. Did I ever tell you this, kids?” She then proudly held up her 138-page book, “Maternal Meanderings.”

Published this month, the book is a humorous collection of Dean-Epps’ real-life experiences as a mother and wife. She and her husband, Gary, have two daughters, second-grader Kelsi and eighth-grader Nicole.

In reference to this interview, Dean-Epps told her Wednesday class to lie about her age (“Say 28,” she pleaded) and her dress size (“Two,” she prompted).

Dean-Epps no longer needs clubs to do stand-up. She has a captive audience of about 130 students in her communications arts and advanced TV production classes.

“But I can be bought,” she quipped Thursday. “Do you have any jobs for me? I think it would be fun to get back to the clubs. But I need a clothing allowance.”

Her students wouldn’t want her to leave teaching, though; many students return each year to take her elective classes.

Senior Peter Bevitori has taken her classes for three years and is her teacher’s assistant.

“She used to be a comedienne – that’s what she says,” said Bevitori, rolling his eyes. He can picture Dean-Epps on stage: “She tells a lot of jokes. She’s got a really good attitude.”

When there’s a problem with the news show, Dean-Epps stops the jokes.

“But she can’t stay too serious for too long,” Bevitori said with a laugh.

Junior Chelsea Kauk will sign up again for Dean-Epps’ class next year. “She’s one of those teachers who brightens your day if you’re having a bad day. “She’s really wired; she drinks a lot of coffee.”

Junior Christine Olson, in her second year of classes with Dean-Epps, said, “We call her a little psycho because she’s so funny. She’s always talked about writing – I’m proud of her.”

But students better watch what they say in class.

“My sequel to ‘Maternal Meanderings’ could be ‘Educational Meanderings.’ Who knows?” Dean-Epps said. “I’ll have a sequel as soon as someone sends me check. But no offers are on the table at this second.”

“Maternal Meanderings” is at The Book Seller, Odyssey Books and at amazon.com A book signing-reading will be at The Book Seller from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 21.


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