Right before jetting off on vacation last weekend, I managed to get Denis Leary on the phone to talk up Comics Come Home, which returns to Boston for a 12th year Saturday to raise money for the Cam Neely Foundation. Some of my interview got Tracked up today (observant Boston Herald readers should spot which paragraphs have been translated into Track-ese), so here is the full story…
Last year, Leary opened Comics Come Home with a videotaped clips package recounting the many flubs of President Bush. Knowing that last month, Leary and his band debuted a Mel Gibson song, I wondered what he might have up his sleeves this time around. "Actually, we’re opening up with an expanded version of the Mel Gibson Blues, which also has an extra verse based on Mel’s interview with Diane Sawyer," Leary told me. "It’s not a tribute, because we all know the man and his background. I think everybody needs to single him out and know what he’s thinking about."
"Every year, we try to do something that coincides with the number for the show," he said. "For No. 9, we had (Bruins legend) Johnny Bucyk alive and there, and then we had Ted Williams’ head in a bucket from the freezer. We thought 12, that’s the number of the apostles, which is the name of our production company…I think people are going to be very happy when they see the set of the show."
Considering what Leary had to say about religion (and particularly Catholicism) in his 2005 Comedy Central Christmas special, you can pretty much expect something outrageous at Agganis Arena. The show, as always, benefits the Cam Neely Foundation for Cancer Care and the Neely Cancer Fund at Tufts-New England Medical Center. The lineup for year 12 tentatively includes Eddie Brill, Bill Burr, Greg Fitzsimmons, Don Gavin, Kevin Knox, Bob Marley, Brad Mastrangelo, Patrice Oneal, Kenny Rogerson, Steve Sweeney and Steven Wright.
"You’re booking around, thank God, the schedules of some of the guys who have become successful," Leary said. "Dane Cook is in Rhode Island filming, so we’re at the mercy of his production schedule. Last year, we didn’t think he was going to make it, but at the last second he did, so we’ll see how it goes this time. And Lenny Clarke is in L.A. filming that new midseason (TV) show with Rob Corrdry. I think that makes it exciting, because you don’t actually know who’s going to show up…they might not expect to see who they’re going to see."
Does it help Comics Come Home if the Bruins are winning? (Note: I talked to him before last night’s BRUTAL loss to the Habs) "I try not to think about the Bruins too much, because I’m trying to save that pain for Christmas. But I think it helps. It’s just really hard to be around these guys. It’s bizarre…Through Cam, I’ve become friends with so many of these guys…I’ll put it into context for you." Last year, Comics Come Home also broadcast a video reel of Cam Neely’s greatest hits as a Bruin. "Him and I are watching it, I’m thinking in my head, I’m wondering what he’s thinking…there’s like 8,000 people in the audience and they’re cheering. He turns to me, ‘You know what I miss?’ I think he’s going to say the teamwork and the camraderie and he says: ‘Just beating the crap out of guys. If I could do that twice a week in Boston in traffic, I’d be fine.’"
This is the second year Comics Come Home will play its largest venue yet, the Agganis Arena. Any lessons learned from last year? "The thing we learned is how much money we could make, which is fantastic, but there’s also not a bad seat in the house." Leary said his family came and sat in various seats around the arena, all reporting back with great reviews. "It’s good for hockey, it’s good for comedy. That’s all I know. I don’t know if you can still get tickets, but you better hurry."