"Robert Kelly plays Louie CK's brother on 'Louie.'" – Interview

Dane Cook’s “Tourgasm” put Robert Kelly on the map in terms of notoriety. Kelly’s material kept him there. The comedian, who will be performing at the Stress Factory in New Brunswick, NJ on September 30 thru October 2, recently stopped by to talk about stand-up, Louie CK, and why Dane Cook always gets bashed for not being funny.

Q – Real quick, how did you get involved in stand-up?

A - I did a talent show in college and won. So I quit school two classes away from getting my degree and started doing stand-up. I was almost an art teacher.

Q – How would you describe your act?

A - My act is honest. It’s just an hour of stories that have happened to me. I’m not trying to make you laugh as much as I am trying to get this shit off my chest. I think the reason people laugh is because they relate.

Q – Being a comedian that travels a lot, do you find that your material translates well everywhere or are there certain parts of the country that don’t ‘get’ your material? If so, how do you combat the different personalities of the crowd?

A - I think we are all the same basically. So I don’t have to worry about changing my act for certain crowds. Some people get offended at some of the topics but that’s good. If everyone likes you I think you’re doing something wrong.

Q – With all the mediums for stand-up (cable, internet, YouTube, etc.), do you think stand-up comedy is oversaturated making legitimate comedians harder to get noticed or be successful?

A - I mean yes but no. There is a lot of crap out there but it still gets people into stand-up comedy and that makes them want to go see it live.

Q – You were a part of Dane Cook’s “Tourgasm” back in 2005. What did that tour do for your career and/or personal growth?

A – “Tourgasm” put me on the map. I was on HBO for nine weeks with the number one comic in the country. That can’t hurt. “Tourgasm” bought me my apartment in midtown Manhattan. It also made me want to be a better comic. I watched the comedy I was doing on the show and I would cringe. I started being more honest after seeing “Tourgasm.”

(Photo by SakiPhotography.com)

Q – I actually met you and Jay Davis on this tour. It was a Wednesday and Rob Zombie was in town so the crowd wasn’t at full capacity. However, you gave a great show and the lack of people didn’t faze you. Does the number of people in the crowd or being on TV or whatnot change your attitude on what type of set you’re going to do?

A - I don’t care if it’s ten or ten thousand. Every crowd has its own energy. And you go off that energy. So every show is different. Some of the small shows are the best because you can slow everything down and be more creative.

Q – Dane Cook seems to always get bashed for not being funny or for being a hack. Why do you think that is?

A - It’s the price of that kind of exposure. People have to hate you to be that big. To every one person that hates him there are a hundred that love him. I will take those odds and that money.

Q – How has your material evolved throughout the years from when you first started to where you are today?

A - When I first started doing comedy I was just trying to make you laugh. I would do or say anything to get the laugh. Now I have things I want to talk about and I know you’re going to laugh. If you don’t you’re a boring asshole.

Q – You’re currently on FX’s “Louie” starring Louie CK. How did this role come about?

A - Louie writes, directs and edits the show. From what I read he never had a brother in real life and wanted to have one on the show. Louie CK: “I only hired Robert Kelly to play my brother for one episode just because I felt like having him for that one episode, but he was really good and compelling and pathetic, so he's in two more.” I’ll take it.

Q – Louie CK is one of the funniest comics working today. What’s it like working with him?

A - Working with Louie is one of the best experiences I have had as an actor. Most things you work on you do your lines a few times and they move on. You have to worry about getting it right. They’re more worried about time and the next location. Louie really wants to get the best out of you and will do it until he gets what he needs for the show. It’s inspiring to see a piece of shit like him have his own hit show.

Q – Tell me about your new Comedy Central special “Comics Anonymous” that airs on October 19th.

A - Mike DeStefano from “Last Comic Standing” approached me about doing a show with comics in recovery. The show isn’t all jokes about being addicts but it’s in there. Jim Norton, Rich Vos, Mike DeStefano and I have almost 100 years of recovery between us. It’s a little darker show than Comedy Central usually puts on. I think people in recovery and the people that need to be in recovery will love it. All the other perfect two parent having no problems in their life people will like it too.

Visit Robert Kelly on the web at: http://www.robertkellylive.com/.


Jason Tanamor is the Editor of Zoiks! Online. He is also the author of the novels, "Hello Lesbian!" and "Anonymous." Email Jason at jason@zoiksonline.com.
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