Bobby Slayton talks comedy and Rochester

05:00 AM, Oct 08, 2013


Written By Jinelle Shengulette

Who: Bobby Slayton
Where: The Comedy Club, 2235 Empire Blvd.
When: 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 10; 7:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m., Friday, Oct. 11 and Saturday, Oct 12
Cost: $9 on Oct. 10, $12 on Oct. 11 and 12
For more: thecomedyclub.us or 671-9080

You may recognize comedian Bobby Slayton from his roles in Get Shorty, Ed Wood, Dreamgirls and more, but acting was never his dream job.

I just don’t like sitting around and memorizing lines. I like being up on stage, doing what I want to do and saying what I want to say,” says Slayton, who will bring his stand-up act Thursday through Saturday to The Comedy Club in Webster.

Perhaps Slayton prefers stand-up because that’s what he knows best, after 35 sometimes controversial years in the business.

We spoke with Slayton while he was packing for a comedy festival in Mexico the next day, about his hellish show biz stories, how long it takes to get good as a stand-up comic and his favorite Rochester hang-outs. Here’s the conversation, edited for length and clarity.

Q: You are currently writing If You Can’t Laugh at Yourself, Make Fun of Other People: My 35 Years in Show Biz Hell. Can you share some of your stories?

A: My life hasn’t been hell — I’m not dodging bullets in Afghanistan or going for chemo treatments — but it’s a show biz–kinda hell. There’s one chapter called “Alice Cooper Saved My Life.” And another called “Raging Bully,” when I was at a big music awards show and I almost got into a fistfight with Journey backstage. There’s a story about how, before I became a comic, I traveled around the country with a remote-controlled, human-sized robot, performing at kids’ parties. And there are stories in there from when I hosted the Adult Video News Awards about three times and hung out with porn stars.

Q: Do you think it took you a while to perfect your stand-up or is yours a natural-born talent?

A: It took forever. It takes years to get good at this; it takes five to 10 years. But I had been doing this for 15 years or so when I saw Dave Chapelle at 18 or 19 years old. He came by and did one of my shows and he was great! Same with Bill Hicks; they were brilliant. So you never know. But I think most comics get better with time.

To be a comic, you have to think you’re really good. You have to have that cocky attitude and confidence to get up there. If you’re scared, it shows. And if you don’t know what you’re doing, it shows. And I think every great comic has their off-nights. It’s just that when you’ve been doing it as long as I have, you don’t have quite as many, thank god.

Q: What would you be doing if you weren’t a comedian?

A: I’d either be in jail or I’d be selling drugs. I don’t think I could do it. I had a job from the time I was 15 until I was 22, which was when I started doing stand-up. And for the next year or two, while I was starting to get good, I worked at a record store and I was a doorman at a nightclub for two years.

Q: Have you performed in Rochester before?

A: I’ve been coming there for so long. Brother Wease, Wegmans and Mamasan’s — those are the three things I look forward to when I come into Rochester. I wake up in the morning and do Brother Wease’s show, which I always have so much fun on. Then I go to Mamasan’s for a big lunch. Then I go to Wegmans, meaning to buy some snacks, and I walk out with all this food and go, “What am I doing with all this food? I’m in a hotel room!” So I go back to my room, watch a movie, eat all my food and then when I have to go to work, I feel like it’s an invasion of my beautiful weekend in Rochester! Then I remember that’s what I’m there for.