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Pete Lee: The comedian who swims with jaguars

Pete Lee is performing at Dead Crow Comedy Club in Wilmington this weekend. (Source: CH...
Pete Lee is performing at Dead Crow Comedy Club in Wilmington this weekend. (Source: CH Entertainment)
Updated: Aug. 16, 2018 at 10:17 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Do you like your stand-up comedians well-rounded, well-traveled and unafraid of big cats?

Pete Lee is at least two of those things and if he has had a boost of liquid courage, he is all three.

This week's headliner at Wilmington's Dead Crow Comedy Room said in a Thursday afternoon phone interview that he is looking forward to his first visit to the Port City, a trip that doubles as one of the final stops on Lee's monthlong tour before he returns to his Los Angeles home.

While performing on a cruise in Honduras in July, Lee's girlfriend informed him one morning that they were going to swim with jaguars, which Lee said is the only cat that swims.

Despite being a self-described "fraidy cat," Lee told his partner that he was all for it, but when they arrived at the beach, they were told they couldn't swim with the jaguars at that time because there were "really sleepy."

"That's good news for me," Lee said.

However, when Lee and his girlfriend decided on snorkeling sans cats, a "snorkel hut" worker noticed they looked a little bummed and when they told the guy they wanted to swim with the jaguars, the man hatched a plan.

For $65, the worker sneaked one of the cats out of a cage and soon, Lee and his girlfriend were in the water with the feline.

"I've never done anything more unregulated in my life," said Lee, a Wisconsin native who is doing two shows each Friday and Saturday night at Dead Crow. "This jaguar starts running toward us. It looks happy, but I don't know if it's happy because we are its lunch or what's going on with this.

"It's super friendly, super snuggly. We take pictures with it. It doesn't murder us."

After tweeting a picture of him holding the cat, Lee said he got some flack from friends who are animal rights activists. They claimed the cat was sedated and that it was "evil" for him to swim with the impaired jaguar.

Lee countered that the four-legged animal wasn't the only one impaired.

"I agree that that's animal cruelty but the alternative would've been that we died," Lee said. "Also, I had a couple whiskeys just to get in the water with a jaguar. I was sedated. I think the jaguar and I had a similar buzz going on."

In addition to headlining clubs, Lee has landed a slew of acting roles, including a seven-episode run on As the World Turns, a soap opera which aired from 1956-2010.

While Lee described the experience as awesome, he said ATWT was one of several series that got canceled not long after he was on it. Luckily for Lee, he has had been able to enjoy extended success on television after the soap's cancellation.

"Since then, I've done several TV shows where I've lasted like three or four seasons, so the curse has been broken, but I ended As the World Turns," Lee said.

For tickets to Lee's shows at Dead Crow, click here.

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