By MIKE CHAIKEN
Comedian Jimmy Shubert has had plenty of opportunities to get in your face over the years.
He used to tour with the legendary, Sam Kinison, as one of the original “Outlaws of Comedy.” He was a co-headliner on tour with Drew Carey. He’s released comedy albums. He has had his own Comedy Central special. He’s appeared on TV shows such as “Entourage” and “King of Queens,” where he had a five season residency. Most recently, he was on TV’s “Last Comic Standing.”
This weekend, Friday and Saturday, Shubert comes to Bridge Street Live in Collinsville to entertain comedy fans with his own style of observational comedy.
We caught up with Shubert via email to talk about his comedy and his entertainment resume.
Observer: Your press materials refer to your style as “Call it like you see it.” What does that mean?
Jimmy Shubert: I have a very “blue collar” sensibilities, meaning I am a no-nonsense and pragmatic individual who doesn’t like to “blow smoke.” People are lied to on a daily basis by politicians, corporations and advertising. I think people are smarter and I like to give my audience credit for being intelligent o if I see someone getting on an airplane with a “therapy cat,” (whatever the hell that is) or see a pit bull in a service dog vest, I am going to call those people out in a very funny piece of comedy.
O: How did you develop that particular style?
JS: It’s a culmination of variables including growing up in Philly with six brothers and a father who was a homicide detective. I realized early that the world is not a fair and just place, so I don’t sugarcoat things in real life and I don’t do it onstage either. Plus, opening for the late Sam Kinison in front of audiences as large as 6,300 people and touring with him for five years helped me discover my own style and comedic voice.
O: These days, where do you draw your material from and what is your criteria for determining, yes, this is something that the audience is going to love?
JS: Well you have to stay current. I read newspapers and magazines to scour for subject matter. I watch a lot of news and I try to find the humor in almost everything— from going through airport security to getting a cup of coffee at Starbucks, relationships and people-watching. If you’re watching and paying attention, instead of having your face buried in your “Smart Phone,” there is comedy going on all around us. We really are becoming quite ridiculous as a species and if I see something or hear something absurd, which these days is a regular occurrence, I really just try to express my point of view in my humor. If I think something is funny, then it will certainly strike chords in my audience and they will think it is funny as well and 90 percent of the time that turns out to be the case.
O: What comedians have influenced you… not necessarily where you imitate them but where you admire how they approached their careers and their creativity?
JS: George Carlin, Jackie Gleason, Sam Kinison, Charlie Chaplin, Bill Hicks, and Richard Pryor have influenced me in my career as a comedian.
O: You toured with the legendary Sam Kinison, what did you learn by watching him take the stage?
JS: I learned you have to create new material constantly, which I do. I’m working on my fourth comedy CD and second live performance DVD— you have to stay relevant. I also learned that as a comedian you have to make people laugh and think at the same time. Stay focused and don’t get sidetracked by all the other things that come with this profession.
O: You did ‘Last Comic Standing,’ how did that come about? Why did you want to participate in a show like that?
JS: I have done movies, appeared on sitcoms and television dramas, and have done my own Comedy Central special and produced my own hour long DVD. “Last Comic Standing” is a talent-based reality show and I thought it would be fun to put together TV-clean sets for prime time. I haven’t done a lot of late night talk shows and I thought it would be fun. Also, I thought it would expose me to a larger mainstream audience.
O: How did the show help you in terms of career?
JS: Well, it definitely exposed me to a larger audience and now people are coming out to see me live on purpose and that is exactly what I wanted.
O: What did you learn from the opportunity?
JS: I learned that I could put those clean sets together for TV and I thought I did it exceptionally well and I proved to myself that I could do it. I also learned that Reality TV is not real.
O: You’ve done television as well as stand-up. What did you like about the experience of appearing on “Entourage” and “King of Queens?”
JS: It is fun. It’s another way to be creative and tap into my other talents. I like to act. These days, it is not enough to be a talented comedian, you have to do it all write, act, produce and be a great comedian. It is a highly competitive occupation and if you want to be one of the best than that’s what you have to do.
O: And when audiences come out to Bridge Street Live, what should they expect?
JS: An hour of non- stop laughter. I work hard on my writing and my performance. I want my audiences to leave with their faces and sides sore from laughing. Laughter is my favorite sound and making people laugh is one of my favorite things to do. I am working with my friend and stand-up comedian, Brad Trackman (who appeared “The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson on Aug 5). We’ve worked together before and he does stand-up comedy at a high level. It is a polished professional presentation of the art form of stand-up comedy and really in this day and age we need more of that—I think laughter is very healing.
Jimmy Shubert, with special guest Brad Trackman, performs at Bridge Street Live, 41 Bridge Street, Collinsville on Friday, Aug. 8 and Saturday, Aug. 9 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15 and $25. For tickets, go to 41BridgeStreet.com or call (860) 693-9762.
For more information, check out JimmyShubert.com or look for his tweets on Twitter.com.