Back in the late 1980s, people still used old-fashioned hard luggage to go on trips, and American Tourister showed how strong their suitcases were by having a gorilla pound on it in TV ads.
As this Evening Magazine profile shows, Boston stand-up comedian Tony V was hired to be the gorilla and represent American Tourister in public appearances. You also get to see a short clip of Tony doing stand-up in the original home of the Comedy Connection. Oh, memories.
Roll the clip!
Watching part of tonight's Patriots-Falcons preseason game, and what should happen to appear on the TV during a commercial break but longtime Boston comedian Tony V, in an ad for DirecTV, as a Patriots fan. How about them apples? Or snowballs. Either way. Roll it!
You can see Tony V in clubs all across New England, and in September, he'll also be performing in NYC as part of the Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival.
The 10th annual Boston Comedy Festival "officially" begins tonight with "Jim McCue's Festival Pre-Show" at Nick's Comedy Stop. McCue co-founded the fest with Boston City Councilman John Tobin, who recently opened Tommy's Comedy Lounge in the original home of the Connection. McCue's sister, Helen, is the fest's vice president, while his sister-in-law Midge helps as a major organizer. And Lewis Black, a longtime friend of McCue's, once again has timed his Boston appearance to coincide with the fest. He'll be at the Wang (or is it Citi Center?) on Saturday.
There are a variety of shows around Boston from tonight through next Saturday, Sept. 5, but the meat of the Boston fest continues to be its annual weeklong stand-up comedy contest. As it did last year, most of the comedy contest rounds will be held at the Hard Rock Cafe, starting on Sunday with the first of eight preliminary rounds. Ninety-six comics from around the country are participating and competing for $10,000 in prize money, although there's a heavy dose of locals and stand-ups who have recently left Boston for New York City or elsewhere.
I cannot say that I'll be roped into judging much of the contest this year (you may sigh or applaud, according to whether you were hoping I would/wouldn't be a factor). But I will be doing everything I can to try to make it up north in time for the Boston Comedy Festival Roast of Tony V. I'll have much more to say about this once I'm back in Boston, but there should be lots of great stories from some big-names and multiple generations of comedians about Tony V, and I'll be glad to share mine here then, too. Among the people on the dais: Tony's longtime friend Bobcat Goldthwait, who directed Tony in his new movie, World's Greatest Dad; Lenny Clarke, Kenny Rogerson, and more.
The end of the year always tends to get extra busy for Tony V in Boston, as he's in demand to preside over the annual holiday comedy parties at both the Comedy Studio and Comedy Connection, usually also gets asked to perform for the city's New Year's Eve celebration, plus his regular club work. "People forget that this is when we work," he told me. "They'll go, 'Can you come to party on Saturday night?' No!"
Tony V said he helped start Boston's First Night comedy shows, which over the years moved from Suffolk University to the State House ("that room is not actually conducive to comedy") to the Wang Center to the Hynes Convention Center. "You're basically in a plane hangar," he said. "The room we're in is about as big as basically downtown Concord, New Hampshire. On one side of us there's a band, on the other side there's an ethnic thing. Everything is going on at the same time. I'd like to think it's me, but it is First Night and I'm not a mime. Not cast aspersions, but at least we're talking to them."
He did refer to then-Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey onstage by a four-letter word that remains one of comedy's few taboos. But he said comedian parties allowed for exceptions to the rule. "That night is intended for us to do everything we couldn't say, which makes it all the worse. It's like the Walsh Brothers up there, in the most ridiculous sweaters I've ever seen, blowing their dead grandmother's ashes into the audience. Where else could you possibly see that?" The holiday skits went over much better with the packed Comedy Studio crowd than with the meager group who showed up the following night at the Connection. "We had something for everybody and they still didn't get it," he said. "All I can do is chide them for that and make them feel bad."
Tony V also makes time for the comedy scene's Ding Ho reunions. "Those are guys I only see once a year, if I see them at all..All of us sitting around telling road stories as if they happened yesterday," he said. But unlike many of them, he still tests his mettle with the young college crowds. "I think anyone who doesn't do that is an idiot," he said. "You prove yourself every night. You don't just close your office door and coast. When I get a room of 20-somethings to laught about something that doesn't involve their genitals, I feel good. It makes you a better comic and a better person."