All of you up and coming comics out there trying to achieve longevity could stand to take a lesson (or ten) from Bobby Collins. This New York native has been in the game since the 80's and his sets--packed with unbelievable life stories full of fast-talking, East Coast inflection --never fail to highlight the insanity of us health and body-obsessed of yuppie L.A. culture.
These days, Bobby lives in Cali (which means he'll always have plenty of material) and it's not often that he comes down to our side of the county, but on April 25th through 28th, he's making a pit stop at the Irvine Improv. We told him he better leave now (because traffic is a real bitch) but before he does, we reminisced about the old days, got some advice on how to survive in the comedy world, and found out what possessed him to write a book after all of this time.
OC Weekly (Ali Lerman): I've been a fan of yours since high school. I hope I'm not making you feel as old as saying that just made me feel. Bobby Collins: Oh naw. The best compliment I get is when venues I work at say, "We never get more of a cross-section of people than when you come in, and that's wonderful." I think that's really great.
I also remember that Certs commercial that you did from back in the day. Do you still have a lifetime supply? You remember that! I was the Certs guy. I gotta tell you though, it really helped me. They told me they were going to give me "the office setting" and I was like, "Can I have the party setting?" They go, "No, we gave that to Richard Jeni." After I did one commercial, they told me they were cutting out the other ones because mine affected people the most. They also gave me more commercials, and a lot more money. My wife and I wanted to buy a house in California and that bought us the house. Isn't that wild?
It's the house that Certs built! That's funny. You've already done a lot in your career so what made you want to write a book? Well, I have six CD's, three DVD's, and this is my first book, so I'm excited about it. It took me about two years to write because I didn't sit right down and get nuts on it. I was telling one of my daughters some of things that I wish I would've listened to that I knew were true growing up. You know like, universal principles of life. Things like, "What goes around comes around; never show your enemy your face; never get out of the shower to pee; and always take your own car." All those things that we know are true but we don't listen to as kids.
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So I was telling my daughter something about looking both ways down a one way street and my wife says, "Why do you tell them all of this stupid shit?" I said, "That's not stupid shit. That's wisdom!" She goes, "If you're so smart, why don't you put it in a book?" So I did! Everything in it I've applied from things that have happened to me on my comedy journey from club and casino owners, mafia, friendships, my children, and people that I have to deal with all of the time. It's called "On the Inside: Witisms and Wisdomisms." Neither one is even a real word!
Hey, when you write a book you can make up words. True or false, did Jimmy Fallon open for you? Yeah, he was my opening act. I just did his show too. It was nice to run into him. I went to a basketball game in Brooklyn and he was sitting behind me. Me and some friends, we snuck down to those seats. We're still twelve-year-olds. So I feel somebody whack me and he goes, "How come you won't come on my show? I called you twice!" I go, "You didn't call me. You had somebody from your office call me." He goes, "Fuck you!" He called me the next day and I went on the show. He's a good guy.
It all comes full circle. You've seen a bunch of comics come and go. What's the key to making it in comedy? I'm gonna tell you straight. I see the twinkle in the young comics' eyes and it's good, but it's changed a lot. It still comes down to this, if you're good, you're going to rise. The cream rises to the top, shit floats for a while and then it sinks. Meaning, if you're a good comic and you're working out there affecting people and you have your principles, you're gonna rise. If you're shitty, you might have this and that, but you're not going to sustain long because people see through that. People call me and say they know I work a lot of theatres and they say they want to open for me. You know, things must be tough out there for a lot of comics because there are so many of them now! Thank god my phone still rings, you know?
Bobby Collins performs at the Irvine Improv on April 25th-28th, 71 Fortune Drive Irvine, CA 92618., (949) 854-5455. For tickets go to www.Improv.com. For more info, visit www.BobbyCollins.com and follow him on Twitter: @BobbyCollins.