Greg Fitzsimmons, “Life On Stage,” CD/DVD

“This is my first one-hour special, and they said I record it anywhere I wanted. And I said, this is it. I’m coming back to the fucked-up Tarrytown, New York, theater. I want to be here. This is it. I mean, really. All of my incredible memories are growing up, you know, being a teenager, in this twisted town, where — because that’s it! In life, you don’t run into your old friends and talk about the good shit that happened. Hey, remember we aced that chemistry exam? No! No, it’s remember the time you vomited on my dad and then passed out in the preschool? That was awesome! That’s what you talk about. Mistakes! You’ve got to make mistakes. That’s how you live life.”

So begins a life offstage, described and recounted in Greg Fitzsimmons: Life On Stage, which has its TV premiere with two broadcasts overnight tonight on Comedy Central, and then released in full-hour DVD and CD versions later this month with New Wave.

As it’s his first stand-up special after two decades in comedy, we’re offered an aptly-titled retrospective on his life and career, from the drinking of his youth up through marriage, fatherhood and even a midlife crisis. “You may have noticed it,” he jokes at one point. “I had a midlife crisis. But I’m out of it!”

If you’ve followed Fitzsimmons, you already may know and have loved some bits of his, such as his decision on handling a ticket for running a red light, or the moment he realized his son was cockblocking him. Here’s a clip of the latter, uncensored for your pleasure.

With perspective of middle age, Fitzsimmons happily informs us that it’s all downhill from here. In fact, it was all downhill from birth.

But as he said in his first minute, the mistakes you make along the way not only provided learning experiences, but also often provided the most fun. He playfully argues that was true about his drinking, then segues into making a broader case by explaining the true meaning of debt. If you don’t believe, like Fitzsimmons, that “savings is a failure,” just think about what you’re really saying by setting aside money for your newborn child to go to college 18 years into an unknown future. And when he recalls his father imposing drinking upon him far too young, he also acknowledges that getting beaten by his father had unforeseen long-term benefits for him as a comedian. Thinking about the last time his dad hit him, the younger Fitsimmons says: “He really nailed it, you know. Any more would’ve been barbaric. And any less, I wouldn’t be seeking the approval of strangers night after night on the road!”

Fitzsimmons turns his attention away from the social politics in his own home to the social and cultural issues we all face together, which can either unite us or divide us.

For example, in Fitzsimmons’ view of the world:

  • Rescuing dogs is looked upon as a noble, trendy pursuit. But wouldn’t rescuing a man from a homeless shelter be, in fact, more humane?
  • The United States of America will fare well so long as it has enough water to let it go to waste, both literally and figuratively. And he imagines how someone from an impoverished third-world nation must react to our collective nonchalant wasting of water, or of throwing money into fountains.

When it comes to race, too, Fitzsimmons enjoys making us uncomfortable with realities we’ve become quite comfortable with over the years, particularly when it comes to the changing labels given to black people. Fitzsimmons puts the discomfort all upon himself when, for a few minutes, he steps down from the stage and walks into the audience to play a game he calls “Guess The Asian” by identifying the heritage of a few of the women in his audience that 2012 night inside Tarrytown Music Hall.

Fitzsimmons went home to Tarrytown to film “Life On Stage,” but he still spends much of his professional life on the road. In the track, “Don’t Dream,” he imagines his son wondering where he might be one night, only to have mother explain to the young boy that father Greg is “at the Green Bay Chuckle Hut.” Hush, now, child. “Don’t dream,” he jokingly imagines his wife telling their son. “We have enough dreamers in this family.”

If living the dream includes flying in first class and farting in coach, then Greg Fitsimmons most certainly is living it.

Fitzsimmons sent out an email tonight telling his fans: “If you want to spend more time with me, please download my podcast “Fitzdog Radio” on iTunes. I have been putting out 2 FREE episodes a week for the past three years.” So if you want to keep up with his life from here on out, you have the means to do so!

You also can order the CD/DVD of Greg Fitzsimmons: Life On Stage via iTunes or

Further reading: My 2011 interview with Greg Fitzsimmons about his memoir, “Dear Mrs. Fitzsimmons,” delving into podcasting, and more about comedy as a life and career.

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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