So yes, Robert “Bobby” Kelly has quite the homecoming this weekend, as he’s taping this weekend’s shows at the Comedy Connection in Boston. Kelly is from nearby Medford.
Kelly talked to me in the morning, something he finds himself doing a lot more now that 1) he’s hitting another level of success, and 2) spending time talking to radio buddies Opie & Anthony on their morning show. As he told me the other day, “You want success so bad your whole career, but then you finally get it, you have to work? When I was a nobody, I got to sleep, I got to play games. Then I look at Dane (Cook). I remember when Dane used to do what I do now. I loved the fact that I’d be milling around and go to sleep while he was on the phone nonstop…now I’m doing it…oh boy!”
Kelly stopped in Vancouver, B.C., earlier this summer to film a cameo in Cook’s upcoming movie, Good Luck Chuck. No, not the weekend that Cook had problems with a guest set at Yuk Yuk’s. Anyhoo. Kelly says of his cameo experience on set, “I got to go to my trailer and just sleep. I’m in my trailer all day, sleeping, eating, then I went in his trailer because his trailer was so much better than mine. I fell asleep eating candy bars. I had every candy bar known to man lying on my chest!”
As for his gig a couple of weekends ago in Worcester’s DCU Center with the O&A Traveling Virus tour: "It was probably the most rock ‘n’ roll ever. It was just, you know, 8-10 headliners. Ten headliners walking around the back. Everyone had their own dressing room. I remember seeing Aerosmith there, Deep Purple! Here I am. Girls are everywhere. It was one of the best crowds I’ve ever worked in front of…I’m so glad they pulled it off."
Did the crowd treat you better because of Tourgasm? “The difference is now they know me. The main place I get it is my home club, at the (Comedy) Cellar. You can hear the pop at the beginning instead of the end. I’ve always known I’m funny. But I never got the pop at the beginning before. I love it, man. I love people knowing who I am.”
Obviously, hanging around Cook long enough, Kelly also has seen the importance of reaching out to fans. “Yeah, dude, you can have a picture. You can have an autograph,” he said. “When somebody hits me up on MySpace, ‘Hey, I was wondering if it was 18 and up.’ I went and called the club, e-mailed him back and said, ‘Yeah, you’re all set.’ He was amazed…that type of connection…I think people appreciate. And yeah, I think that is from Dane. I told him, he set the curve on a lot of things. It doesn’t take anything from the art of stand-up comedy if you actually acknowledge your fans. It’s the fans who actually pay to see you. They’re the ones who buy your CDs and convince their friends and families, that hey, this Robert Kelly is funny. He’s not a creep. And he’s not into porn. It’s Jay Davis!”
Kelly’s MySpace podcasts certainly aren’t quite on the same level as Cook’s. They’re well, just listen as Kelly talks to Colin Quinn or another comic or sometimes lets two other comics yell back and forth at each other. “To me, that’s funny. The realness of that situation. To let anyone who enjoys comedy,” he says, “that they can hear them fighting and hear me throwing in quips about how they’re both fat hacks. That’s what we do. We’re brutally honest with each other and we love to plug our shows.”
He’ll put the podcasts on a companion disc to his upcoming Comedy Central CD, along with some videos. But no activities like Cook’s crew forced on them for Tourgasm. “I’m going to wake up. People are going to say, ‘Hey, we’re going to go mini-golfing!’ You’re going to hear me throw a cup at their face. And then you’re going to hear a CHING! And then you’ll see someone lose a tooth.” So no. “You’re going to see what comics really like to do.” Like? “Like when I’m alone eating a bag of chips in the living room.”
“People watched (Tourgasm) and they thought it was going to be this Motley Crue thing. Comics are loners. We go onstage by ourselves. There’s no guitar. There’s no amp. There’s no crew. It’s just me going up and telling you how negative and awful I am about things, and how crazy stuff happened, and I try to do it in a kooky way to make you laugh.” No sex, drugs or rock ‘n’ roll for him anymore. “I can’t do drugs anymore. I can’t drink. I’ve been sober for 20 years and add the underlying causes, smoke and sex…I have a fiancee, so now there’s no more hookers and I can eat because now I’m, supposedly I have to get into TV shape, so I have to make people money now, so I have to take care of myself, unless I’m going to be John Pinette. So now I have nothing. Now I’m supposed to be addicted to fruits and vegetables — so go f— yourself, God. So now I have nothing. Nothing left.”
For my money, the best episode of Tourgasm was the penultimate episode, which dug into the film footage archives for rare stuff of Kelly and Cook. ”Don’t stop filming my face,” Kelly begins singing over the phone. “What a beautiful fro I had, ringlets, God, it was gorgeous! Even Puerto Rican people were saying, ‘What great hair!’ I never knew it was going…I never thought I’d be shaving my head.”
“That’s my favorite episode,” Kelly said. “You got to see us back in the day. We weren’t doing this for a living. We weren’t getting paid. We were just goofs having fun. So us driving around in a car, singing don’t stop filming my face…that thing Dane did in the back of the pizza shop. He had no audience, so he just did it himself. It was really cool to see all that stuff.”