“Uncle Bruce” Interview and Comedy Set by Bruce Smirnoff

That’s right, a wonderful interview with on of the best…a “Big, Big Comic” Bruce Smirnoff
Now living in Florida, Bruce has worked all over the world and has always been one of the best. Enjoy this interview and comedy set by Bruce and see if you don’t agree!

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Podcast Transcript:

Announcer: 

This is another episode of stand up comedy, your host and emcee. Celebrating 40 plus years on the fringe of show business, stories, interviews and comedy sets from the famous and not so famous. Here’s your host and emcee Scott and words.

Scott Edwards: 

A welcome to this week’s show. We have a very old friend joining us tonight. There is ladies and gentlemen, direct from Florida. Let’s hear for Bruce Smirnoff. Bruce,

Bruce Smirnoff: 

how did all these people get into my room?

Scott Edwards: 

It is so you said

Bruce Smirnoff: 

to me, you said you just prepared a cocktail in order to speak to me. What do you what are you drinking? Scott?

Scott Edwards: 

Well, I just was I was trying to tell you before the interview that to get the right spirit of talking to such a great comic and friend that I had made myself a little cocktail, a little bourbon. Do that.

Unknown: 

You know what you turned me on to? Again? You don’t know the effect you had on all of us comedians, many you put into a death coma, but I was one that escaped. That’s like you taught me how to drink seriously. And to this day, I don’t I don’t I’m not a big drinker. But you know, I spent a lot a lot of last few years on chips. But you showed me a drink. It’s whiskey with club soda. But the most important thing is you take the twist, the lemon twist and you run it around the top of the glass and you turn me into that and now because of that I have Crown Royal I know that’s not your viewer for you. Glenn Levitt. Yes, you are Glennlevitt. Right.

Scott Edwards: 

I enjoy a good glass of Glenlevit Scotch. Yes, I do. Yeah, you

Bruce Smirnoff: 

turned me on to Glenlivet on the rock club soda. In fact, while we talk, I’m gonna have that and I don’t drink but in honor and I have lemon. I got lemon

Scott Edwards: 

go you’re going all out for the podcast. I can’t tell you how nice that is. And what I was trying to tell you the pre show and you stopped me was I can’t believe it’s been so many years but it’s just a pleasure to hook up with you and and catch up and chat. You are always one of our favorite people part of the family and one of the top and funniest headliners to regularly player played the club. So I think

Bruce Smirnoff: 

I had this sip. It’s Royal. Is that whiskey?

Scott Edwards: 

Yeah, that’s very good. Smells like booze. Nice. Scotch tape on the side. And it says shipping. Probably 40. I don’t know this is I got this when probably not long after you terminate, I gotta find it. Even to put you put this like I would say yeah, I’m going to just do it like a normal person guy had keep talking to me. Well, I did want to introduce everybody to you by saying and by asking what brought you to working with me and working laughs unlimited?

Bruce Smirnoff: 

Well, as you know, I don’t know if your listeners know you were one of the first comedy clubs to get with the program. You I remember working for you. I believe it was 1980. Yes, yes. Okay. So there was a comic boom, that artists started around 79. But that was in 78. And really the, I think it was the Mork and Mindy in September of 78. That that gave the the gigantic gush because Robin Williams was so popular at the Comedy Store. And it just turned the world into stand up comedy freak. I mean, Steve Martin, obviously before that, but it was really that Mork and Mindy phenomenon. And then And then so it was everything comedy, and then they had that silly show, make me laugh. That was that was on syndicated television so everyone could see it. And no one really knew the difference between network TV and syndicated TV was just another channel on your television. So that became out of nowhere, a very popular show and that had all these guys that were unknown, but you know, going to be famous eventually. And you were able to snag all those people. Yeah, talking about big, big, big stars ultimately, you know, big big big Yeah, I was a young comic you had Yakov Smirnoff, you have Robert Wuhl. You have Kevin Nealon I used to come up with Kevin all the time. So yeah, you had unit Bruce Baby Man Baum. Come on, help me with the names?

Scott Edwards: 

Oh, no. Many we tapped into the early years of

Bruce Smirnoff: 

right before there were comedy clubs. It was you. And and because of that. And you were at that delta queen. You were in a restaurant and you were just a bartender there. Right. And you were just and then you got your own standalone club.

Scott Edwards: 

We took over the banquet room for a number of months. And then when they tried to force me out of business I opened up right yeah.

Bruce Smirnoff: 

Now and you were actually Want to so I’ll tell you another story. When I had lived in LA, I moved out there in 1970. I moved out in October of 78. So I moved there, like three weeks after Mork and Mindy had premiered. So I got caught. I just moved to a town that was that was that phenomena that Mork and Mindy that Robin Williams fever, and I really wasn’t good. And I wasn’t accepted at the comedy clubs. At that point, I had a really good look. But I just was so young, I was only 22. And I really, I had done stand up in Boston where I was in college, but I really had not found my chops. Nothing. And so here I was, here I was, I was in Boston, I went to Boston University, film school. And here I was in Hollywood, and you know, unable to get on stage, but not smart enough to realize to leave and go, you know, try to get good in another city. So I would, you know, I cobbled together to some of the worst clubs can can you say work? Can you say swear words on your show? Or you want to keep it clean? No, no, this is a dump. I was gonna say shithole. But I’ll just say we had to work the worst places. So anyway, you were so eager for acts that I don’t know how I got to you, but you booked me as an MC opening. And I guess I was good enough to you know, to do 10 minutes of material. But the story that was amazing was I had developed, I was never a great flyer, but from 78 to when I worked for you. I didn’t fly at all. And I just I guess I was getting a little neurotic and I developed, you know, your, your gig was in Sacramento and I, I was going to be taking a plane that wasn’t like a DC 10 or 747. And I didn’t, and I got so scared that I was going to take the bus from LA to Sacramento when I had my friend drive me to the bus station in downtown LA. And you had to leave like two in the morning to get to Sacramento by five o’clock the next day. And I got to the bus stop bus station. And there were so many horrible, derelict people. I started to fear for my life. I’ll go on the plane. I don’t care. I’m not going on a buck. What am I out of my mind, and I never had my fear of flying. It was all to you. And I never had for the rest of my life. Which of course entailed incredible amounts of flying. Never, never another.

Scott Edwards: 

Yeah, we can say that you safely avoided the transit buses. All those years, thanks to Laughs Unlimited.

Unknown: 

That’s right. That’s right. These are so these are things you have no idea, you know, but that that I experienced, you know, on my way to your club in your club. You know, I want to tell quickly, you, you were you first you house just in that beautiful governor’s I think the governor lived in that condo? Yes. It was a tall, tall high storey building in downtown Sacramento. And then you learned unfortunately, not me. But there are other comedians that are slobber, Rose, have no respect for anyone. And they trashed your beautiful condo, you know, and, and then you took us, you took us on a series of these homes that you would buy in the most condemned areas of West Sacramento.

Scott Edwards: 

We’re just right. We’re trying to find it somewhere where the comics fit in. That was what it was right?

Bruce Smirnoff: 

at you. I remember that house. And the neighbors had like a German Shepherd don’t like a guard dog tied to a metal post in the yard to keep away the bad people. And it was right outside my window. And it was so miserable anyway.

Scott Edwards: 

Well, we went out of our way to make everybody feel at home.

Unknown: 

Yeah, one of the week that I worked for you. So let me explain to your listeners what it’s like when you do a comedy condo or comedy house, there’s the master bedroom goes to the headliner, then the small bedroom with the bathroom in the hallway, that’s the middle act. And then if there’s an opening act that’s on the road that week, they get the living room with the pullout sofa. So I show up in with Larry Miller, the great Larry Miller, who’s as big of an actor as he is a stand up comedian. He was the headliner from the middle. And as we’re getting assembled the you know, the we hear a thing at the door and there’s this elderly man now, when I say elder, he’s probably like 67 years old, but I’m 63 now so I can’t call myself elderly. So to me, he was elderly. I was like 31 years old, maybe 20. I don’t remember. So. He comes in and I’m like, who you know, who is who are you? And he goes home, whatever his first name was. I’m the emcee this week, and he’s dressed like in a business suit, but nothing fancy. And I’m like, What is this guy? He’s the emcee. And he’s a this they are Oh, is he kidding? And he comes in? Well, where do I stay? And I go, Well, you know, Larry has the master bedroom, I have this bedroom, you get the pullout sofa. Wonderful. And he’s like a happy camper. He’s, you know, setting up taking out stuff out of the suitcase. Anyway, I don’t really wasn’t that good. He but uh, you could see he was really trying to do what he was doing. And I ignored him, because I’m a prick. And I’m, you know, I’m jealous of everyone. And I didn’t you know, he couldn’t help me. I guess he wasn’t worth whatever any comic was back then

Scott Edwards: 

we’ll say over the years, I don’t I wish I could put a name to that person. But there was little,

Bruce Smirnoff: 

let me finish the story we’ll get and we’ll we’ll sum that up at the end. Oh, this man comes and goes, that’s the end of them. Fast forward. It turns out, I believe I may have the company wrong. He was the owner and president of Mary Kay Cosmetics. And he was one of these people that did everything in the world. And one of the things he didn’t accomplish in his lifetime was to be an idiotic and up comedian. Pocket with. So this guy did, from what Craig Shoemaker would know his name because Craig hung out with this guy. It turned out that whoever he worked on the road with that was a golfer, he would then send for them in his private jet. And through the through the 90s in the 2000s. And I imagined he may not be with us anymore. But he was really kind to the people who were nice to him, not me. But I didn’t like how did you show? It just goes to show you been? I don’t do what I do.

Scott Edwards: 

I’ve been nice to everybody. Right?

Bruce Smirnoff: 

So one guy wasn’t that nice. I could have been Vice President. Well, I’m 55 and over

Scott Edwards: 

instead of running Mary Kay, well, that sounds like it had an important part of your life in the sense that a lesson learned right? can judge one outcome on

Unknown: 

my with my with my heart stories. That’s that’s a that’s a

Scott Edwards: 

lack of ducks. A flock of we lack of ducks. Now, like I said,

Unknown: 

I just want to be specific to one. Sacramento even though I’m sure your listeners are nationwide worldwide and just want to get this Sacramento is the capital of California. And is other than cop. You were the only action that was in that. Oh, yeah. I love the episode The cop in Sacramento because I can almost smell the neighborhood. You know, because it’s so it’s I went there so many times because of you. I must have been Secretary 2020 plus time.

Scott Edwards: 

Oh, at least. I know. The other clubs. I own two you didn’t work just downtown you trip, right? Yeah, birdcage and then

Bruce Smirnoff: 

you start doing that. There was that guy, I’m blanking. I want to say it wasn’t as dizzy. Oh, Joe. And God, he was so famous to you. And you broke them in and they wound up bigger than you that?

Scott Edwards: 

That happened a lot. Yes. Yeah. And

Unknown: 

I remember one night, you were like, hey, Bruce, come over here I go. Yeah, this is Joe Torres. Showing Christine Torres. Right. And you said, this is Joe and Christina and their partner was maybe he was Esposito. But he was a nice guy. And I think they were like, they were building houses or, you know, they were like, guys that were blue collar guys. I I don’t remember exactly. But you introduced them to me. And, you know, they’re gonna open up a comedy club, and they’re came to watch you and you know, see what it’s all about. And I said, Nice to meet you. And they wound up hiring me, it’s so hard to get work as a comic. And it became that way because comedy got so hot. But there was a point because of you. And the Torres is, I mean, if there’s any comedians listening to this podcast, it got to the point where I, where I lived in LA, I really wanted to try my hand in acting and possibly get on TV and film. So I only needed like, you know, 15 weeks a year, and it’s so hard to get that but in those days, because of you and those other people that you started, he would just pick up the phone and you know, like you would ask the whole like, oh my god, it’s Bruce. Bruce was doing good Scott. And then you just go, Okay, I got my book open. And you would just give me between your two clubs. I would get 246 I’d get like 810 weeks a year, and I close my calendar. And you know, whatever lighted joint, whatever I did. That was work. Good. Then I would pick up. I pick up the phone and I call San Jose. Hi, Christina Torres. Yes, Bruce. Mark. Oh, Hi, Bruce. How are you? I’m fine. How are you? I’m very good. Thank you. Do you have your book open? I have my book open and they would give you they had what Portland and Jose to say No Phoenix, they were very and they had one more why am I blanking? Anyway, I think it was three, maybe it was four. And they and then you, they would give you four weeks. And I closed the book and I go, I don’t need any more work for the year that was, you know, living like a real bachelor. And that was that’s all you needed. You could make your $20,000 or whatever. And you were you were a happy camper. And they paid airfare and, and room and board while you were there. Right? Yeah, you were, you were so wonderful. It was such a great time

Scott Edwards: 

you bring up a good point is especially when I had the three clubs, if you had somebody is popular. And as part of our comedy family like you, and there was a few others, you could literally end up with 12 to 15 weeks in a year. And like you said, a lot of guys, that was enough to keep them busy. And yeah, it was it made us important. But it also gave us an opportunity to bring back people that we thought were really talented. It you know, we’re both using each other. You guys were getting some income and we were getting some great comedy that we can trust.

Bruce Smirnoff: 

Yeah, yeah. And it was, it was so over such a long window of time, which is also ironic because I worked on the ship with someone from Sacramento and I’m blanking on who exactly it is. But I think they knew who you were. But it was still I watched when we first went to Sacramento Old Town, which is where Scott’s Club was located. was not doing well. Correct?

Scott Edwards: 

No, it was it started off as is where the bums hung out.

Unknown: 

Right. So when you did it club at first, it was like no, I get I get it. There’s a museum train thing, but there’s nothing to do. And then within a few years, it became the rain. Oh, yeah, we have you opened up your spaghetti Syndra the art of pasta. And your photo gallery? Your that you sold

Scott Edwards: 

cars? No. Yeah, well, yeah, Emery burrs.

Bruce Smirnoff: 

I’m 63 years old. I’m not dead yet.

Scott Edwards: 

Well, but a lot of people didn’t pay attention. person. But yes, no, I’m just kidding. Nobody. Other comics wouldn’t have paid attention. I do i Wasn’t there

Bruce Smirnoff: 

an undergrad? What’s your underground there where you could go under the street and you go to work? Now? Maybe not. But all I remember one time. God, this is terrible. That and then it had a downturn. So I actually watched Sacramento, down, up, then down. And now I think it’s up again. Is it good again?

Scott Edwards: 

Yeah, it’s it’s doing okay. Yeah. What I was gonna mention was that not only did you do great on stage, and we had a lot of fun watching, you entertain the crowds. But as I mentioned, you were part of the family and you did some of the activities off the stage with us. Didn’t you go honest with us on bowling night or?

Bruce Smirnoff: 

That was great.

Scott Edwards: 

We used to do things with the entertainers outside of the club.

Unknown: 

What was the name of that diner that we went to where you had ordered you above being overweight? You ordered like two o’clock in the morning, a stack of like 12 and cake and like a tube of butter to put on it. And and I turned Allen Murray. I said he’ll be dead by Tuesday. That line believe anybody eating 12 pancakes at two o’clock in the morning. I couldn’t believe that was when we were doing that Vega Rama snow remember?

Scott Edwards: 

Oh, Vega Rama. In fact, Joe was mentioning today how you were part of Vega Rama. We enjoy doing that in the firehouse restaurant theater. And

Unknown: 

so that was so to your listeners. That was an interactive show, written by Rick core. So another comedian. And it was like one of those Tony and Tina, where the show is active. It’s involving people in the audience and you don’t know where it’s going. And, and sometimes sometimes it’s improv. But it’s, you know, it’s got a rough outline to it. So the thing was, you got to play you, we put you in the show, and I played the owner of a Las Vegas casino, and I’m a prick. And you were like a low lowly assistant. So here’s the comic, who’s in real life who you know, respects the club owner and wants to work with him. But now the role theatrically are reversed. So my character

Scott Edwards: 

I think you enjoyed that a little too much. One of my favorite. One of my favorite lines from that show, was one of the actresses was playing the part of the casino waitress and Rick Corso, Rick Corsos, playing his headliner bet and he says, you know, Hey, babe, do me a favor and grab the this person a cocktail. And she goes, I’m an actress, not a waitress. And he goes, Yeah, well then act like a waitress and give them a drink.

Bruce Smirnoff: 

That was Chris. I’m blanking on her last name. But Chris is on Facebook and Chris got married and had children. And she married a very successful man and she’s doing stuff in her own right. But yeah, remember she was to date Richard Jenny, that was her boyfriend. Yeah.

Scott Edwards: 

Well that we use that during that show, which was real different than stand up. I like breaking the rules of a comedy club and doing different things. And I mentioned in other episodes, I like bringing in variety entertainment, like magicians and jugglers, and a lot of clubs didn’t like doing that. But I also produced a few plays on stage with over the years ATMEGA ROM or be

Unknown: 

after us or before Vega Rama was 1994 I believe three, four somewhere in there. Well, we did a 393

Scott Edwards: 

Yeah, we did a couple one man shows and a couple other mini plays that entertainers had written. But Vega ramen was my favorite. In fact, Rick Corso and I looked very seriously at bringing that show back as its own piece. But we weren’t able to do it. But it was it was something I really enjoyed doing.

Unknown: 

Well, it got a lot of attention from HBO at the time. And I think the problem was they wanted to put a star in place of Rick. And you know, he didn’t want to I don’t think that was up his his alley, but it did get it had got a not a nibble, but a big nibble at HBO. I believe after that. Rick went on the road onto the cruise ships. He proceeded all of us the he was one of the first to say that’s where the money is. And

Scott Edwards: 

sir good or good money and a good way to make a living if you don’t mind being on the sea all the time. Now you do

Unknown: 

a lot of very hard thing very, very difficult. You did a lot of that where That’s where most entertainment now is focused, is working the cruise ship. There’s so many of them.

Scott Edwards: 

Will you’ve been on and show business a long time. And you shared a couple stories about working with the club. But you probably have a story or two about being on the road. For example, Jill said one night after the show you were having a drink in the bar and you told her you were hanging out with Bruce Jenner at a Hollywood party before he came out.

Bruce Smirnoff: 

No, I was riding with my friend Billy Rebeck. We were a writing team, the few other members of it. And Billy was really the star of our group of writers. Billy is a brilliant writer, he went on to produce a home improvement, blah, blah, blah. He’s very talented writer. And he get would get hired to do these, you know, into like, write jokes for somebody for giving a speech because he could just come up with jokes on the spot. So he comes to the session. He’s late one day, you know to write for Bruce Jenner, you know, the Olympic? Yeah, we know. And he goes if I was up in Malibu, and I mean, I was working with him writing jokes for his presentation. I mean, like, he was like, nail polish. And, you know, he’s like, he’s got like makeup on. And I’m like, Yeah, okay, so listen, today, we’re gonna work. No, no, no, you don’t. You don’t believe me did a lot of

Scott Edwards: 

people would believe this famous decathlete would was a crossdresser.

Bruce Smirnoff: 

Right. And so because because No, he had makeup on. And he was like wearing like chiffon. It was men’s clothing, but it was chiffon. And it was this. And I’m like, okay, so I just remember putting that in my head. And then we moved on for the day. And then that happened. You want to Bill Cosby story? I mean, she’s I don’t know if this is political. Who cares? Who killer he got hired. He got hired to babysit Bill Cosby from Atlanta, a flight from Atlantic City to Washington DC for because his cousin was producing a show his cousin was a big agents, and whatever it was, is that Billy you gotta I can’t be with him. He needs around the clock attention. So can you just accompany him? And you know, maybe give them some jokes or go get whatever, just the company. So Billy accompanied him on a flight and he said all he did was harass the stewardesses and they, you know, like lewd comments and, and, you know, and then put them down when they walked away because they weren’t reacting to him. He was miserable time with him. Just wow.

Scott Edwards: 

So Bill was a little older, but maybe not infant 1984 and 84. He acted like that. Yeah. And yeah, and I went, he said,

Unknown: 

you’re talking about America’s dad, and he goes, Oh, he’s a bad guy. He hates white people. Blah, blah, blah. He we’re gonna let you he said he treated me like he was trying to antagonize me, because he knew I was his ate. You know, the guy, the producer of the show his cousin, and he was just trying to antagonize but I saw how he treated the stewardess is just terribly sexually comments to them. Listen, whatever. That’s a whole nother can recall and we don’t have to go into that. So yes, I have this, you know, I was the doorman and host and emcee at the Improv, the world famous improv, in Hollywood floor California, down on Melrose, from 1979, to like 83. And I always hung out there. But in those years, I was like, you know, trying to get on performing. And I was the emcee, I was like, right under, you know, helping Budd Friedman, and then but took on a partner, Mark Llano, who then took the club from almost bankruptcy, I was there that night, or the afternoon, actually, when the liquor people came, and they like shoved a receipt in my face and go, you don’t pay this bill, you’re never gonna have liquor here again. And I just went, okay, but I mean, I’m looking at the guy going, it’s not my club. Talk to me that way, I don’t have the money to pay yet. And I’m not gonna pay you. I don’t care if you bring liquor about the guy. But anyway, so Bud was really on the balls of his feet, because Bud was, but had the idea, but not the execution. And he never did.

Bruce Smirnoff: 

And as more of a showman, kind of a small man he was, he was the he was the idea and not the execution. So he then out of last resort, he got this guy, Mark Llano, who was an actor and an acting coach, very talented in both and, and a guy who had a business sense of how to run something. He got him, partner with him, and to turn the club upside down. Like when I worked there, everybody was stealing, you know, like, you know, it was just everyone was stealing. And we did no business. And Mark Londo, turned it around. And at the same time that he turned it around this show, evening at the Improv came about and it looked like a very small venture at the beginning. But it turned into a very long lasting series that really helped the improv. And the thing with the Comedy Store, just, you know, a half a mile away, was owned by Mitzi shore, was that when she was approached by people to do television, Mitzi was a real control freak. And because of her control issues, she would no one would want to make a deal with her. So she kind of scared people away. So as the Comedy Store was bigger, way bigger than the improv, it did not attach itself to these other media tunity Well, yeah, in a way, I don’t want to put her down at all because I love her very much also, but he missed that opportunity. And bud picked up the opportunity and Bud became and Mark extremely successful and they they turn their lives explosive positive. So wonderful. Yeah. And evening, and I was there for everything when it came out. Tell you a funny, I’ll tell you a funny story. The book wire. Now here I was, I was just telling the story. The other day, I was all I wanted to be with a comedian. I’m not I wasn’t a goody, goody. I mean, I smoked pot. So I wasn’t this goody two shoes. But my goal was, was comedy. And I didn’t understand other things nuances in life. So I see this book wired, after John has written about John Belushi, you know, in his life and dying and of drug overdose and all this. But Balu she used to get his coke, at the Improv, and it’s talking about the improv, and it’s going to improv. The largest coke den in Los Angeles. I’m going wait a minute. Wait a minute. I was there every night. What are you talking about? I didn’t see.

Scott Edwards: 

That. Yeah, no idea.

Bruce Smirnoff: 

These funny there’s four tables in the restaurant. There’s, there’s a restaurant area of the improv circa 1981. Okay. And so obviously, with a square restaurant is four corner table. Well, one table is Budd Friedman, and Mark Llanos table. So I obviously, that was their table every night. But the other three corner tables, were these coke dealers that the book refers to, but I knew these guys, but I was very friendly to them, but I didn’t do they didn’t do cocaine. So so all I knew was I wanted to dye x because I’m not going to mention names here. But I said guy X, what do you do? He goes, I’m a movie producer. And I went, Oh, that’s wonderful. I never checked I didn’t care. I put me in a movie. So to me, he was x was it was a movie producer and the story then it was table, the other table and, and this guy, his name, we’ll call him why? And I would say why? What do you do? And he goes, I’m a male nurse. And I went, Oh my goodness. The world needs nurses and we need male nurses. You’re doing something What do you come here at night for? I just like that. I’m alert round a lot of pain with the patients all day and I like to have Beautiful season ticket coke dealers It is nonsense, right? Then there’s another table. And this guy’s great guy. He owned a store that dealt with vintage watches. And I just figured that’s what because I used to bring my vintage watches that I would get on the road at pawn shops, and he would fix them. So I thought he was a bit over the watch. Everybody was the front. And just stories you read it and going. This was all going

Scott Edwards: 

well, if you’re not part of the party, I guess they didn’t want to make you aware. But that’s interesting. I was there many, many, many times and sad at some of those tables, but was not part of the drug scene either. That was something we always tried to avoid at the club. Although there is where you’re not one of those. Yeah, but it was my one night John Fox had a spoon of coke and was chasing me around the greenroom. Come on, it won’t kill. Yeah, come on, give it a shot.

Unknown: 

Now this podcast, do you want terrible stories or you just want to keep it on the up and up?

Scott Edwards: 

Oh, no, no, we’re just trying to be entertaining. I did. You’ve had a lot of great mentioned

Unknown: 

you did mention I was with him near the end. And he was an Enigma in that he John Fox is who we’re talking about. And he had a very sad ending to his life. He and I and I will tell you, men, please have your you know your prostate checked, get your bloods always get your blood check. I think he made a left that nice message urging people to do that. But he was a while he was the example of why we couldn’t stay at nice condos. He was a Gonzo comedian and that he was just this Rumbold guy that was Bodhi filthy, triple X rated. But he had a look of them like an All American boy. Like let’s party and you can google him on YouTube. And but he had a magnetic thing over the Hypno hypnotic spell over the audience. So even though his material was filthy, not not creative, and I’m not putting them down, but there was nothing there. But a barroom you know, drunk ish guy telling you this but standing ovations were 52 weeks a year of work, but he lived his life. You put me in that condo with him one day, and I come up one night, and he’s like, having sex with like three women. I’m going to try to watch a baseball game in another room.

Scott Edwards: 

And it’s usually bad.

Unknown: 

Right? I couldn’t believe I mean, again, I’m not approved. But I don’t you know, I this stuff was like, I can’t wait. I grew up in the suburbs. You know, Connecticut. I never saw behavior like this people having open sex and in a comedy condo, but he’s another lunatic probably with the throwing the furniture off the balcony that led to the demise of Scott Edwards. That night. If you drink coffee, do you drink coffee? No. Okay, when you when we stay downtown, then you took it to another place that wasn’t as nice but still nice that when we left that tower building, and I found this coffee I got into this is when I first got into specialty coffee. And I’ll never forget the name it was called New. How Vaishya and I think that is what at the dog I think it’s I think I held Vation is a Dalmatian something like that. And they were located. I don’t know where but you know, right in the heart of where, you know, people come out of Senate, and then their restaurants were and that was the coolest. We’re talking like 1982 Before Starbucks did anything you know, and that was with a birthday. It was built around the roaster in the middle of it and the muffins and the coffee and they were they were they were great. And you know there’s no I googled them sometimes even the name nothing. They was all pre internet so nothing ever. I just wish those people hope they had good successful lives because they had such a great place down there.

Scott Edwards: 

Well, Bruce, I want to get back to your comedy. You have some white because it’s funny, and you’ve got great a funny story. Did you get your comedy from?

Unknown: 

Well, as a kid I listened to Bill Cosby records and and Bill Cosby had like no effect on me and yet that’s what I think hooked me were his albums were so amazing. And I grew up very isolated in the in the in, I want to say suburbs, but more country than suburbs. And I couldn’t express myself. So these records these comedy records, did it for me. So I would say Bill Cosby and then comedy in general watching The Ed Sullivan Show all that stuff. And then I get Robert Klein, which is a lot of the New York guys. He was the new he was the he was the password. You know, he was like the the gateway to so many of our generation weak you know he when you break down comedy, there’s comics that are bad writers but fantastic performers and then vice versa. And then there’s guys that have everything and he was in baseball they call that a five tool player. So he was a five tool player in comedy he could write, he could act, he could do voices, he could sing, he just could do everything and, and he made it look so easy that all these knuckleheads like myself and all these guys that were influenced by him, just even I think Leno was totally influenced by him too. And Leno wasn’t that wasn’t a Jewish kid from the, from the city or the suburbs. He was from Massachusetts, but but he was a he was a influence on a whole first generation. And what’s interesting is Robert Klein, as great as he is, he did not achieve this fame he deserved because it was just so New York, and so in so cool. And so

Scott Edwards: 

and he said he was before the real boom of stand up, he was more the hungry. He started.

Unknown: 

Yeah, created the boom of stand up. He he was he was the reason people would go to the improv when it was I don’t I forget how blood opened it. It was like a place to go after Broadway. But I don’t even think it had boobs yet. I think it was like coffee, and tea and desserts. I’m not you’d have to read his book. I don’t remember. But But God, but having Robert Klein there was like the first guy like we got to go see this guy, Robert Klein. And that was so he was like, one of the first so yes, brilliant, phenomenal. So that’s how I got influenced by his album while

Scott Edwards: 

you’re timely. It was always hilarious. And you had a great mixture. Okay,

Bruce Smirnoff: 

not that great. No,

Scott Edwards: 

you did you had a good mixture what I liked about your act or I think the audience liked about your act was that you didn’t you all you had smart material, but you had an expressive personality. You know, yeah, I for some reason what’s coming to mind like you see if you saw an Italian doing a speech and they’re using their hands and using their facial expressions, when you cry, control your face your arms, but your facial expressions were always memorable and fit perfectly with the material. Now sadly, we can’t share that physical part but right now we’re going to take a quick break and listen to a set from you Bruce, if that’s okay. Oh, the torture. Yeah. Everybody sit back and relax some great standard comedy. Here he is Bruce Smirnoff live on stage.

Bruce Smirnoff: 

She got my juices going. It’s a good thing I dress very sexy tonight. That’s another thing I’m you know, I’m in this business a long time and you know, you have to feel good thoughts and feel sexy but when I 42 years I’m in show business. When I started out I wanted to be Chippendales dancer and I went on my first audition took off my clothes they said I should be a comedian you’re smiling you know sexy is making people laugh of course. You know when I was in fifth grade all the girls used to drool over me. It was a special school but they liked me that time these are the jobs by these are what are called self deprecating jokes. I don’t make fun of you. I take it all out of myself. It’s a lot safer for my help to do it that way. And you would think people would appreciate it. I’m on a ship again. Maybe six seven months ago I’m up in the buffet and this woman is like waving me over and on. Oh, yes ma’am. How are you because I watched the show the other night. You make a lot of fun of yourself I don’t appreciate your humor. I happen to think you have a very handsome I said thank you very much and then she turned around and walked into a wall was this you ever been to a biker bar probably not displace like a two tattoo minimum just to walk in the ladies room had urinals in it just a rough joint so at the end of the show the bikers want to go have a beer with you and then come back and have like one beer in it but they get little wasted and they’ve never met ethnic people like me from the East Coast. It always starts with a Get Real chum our own age do we quit? I go Yeah, sure. What do you need to know to go How come you Jews? I like it when they started out you Jews I’m looking around maybe a bus showed up whose hair why Where’s Uncle Morty to to get a toy who can companies here got How come you always lawyers and doctors and in show business you different nuts. I go hey man, read your basic US history. Like all the great ethnic people that came to the United States we assemble got with the program. End of story however, if you want one and I mean one teeny tiny difference, we don’t seek dangerous jobs like everybody else because let’s face it when they find a telephone worker slumped over an electrical pole with 10,000 volts shooting through his body Do you think that’s Murray shekel Steen You are such a nice group. I’m only up here for like three days. These are very short gigs of PR. We love this so much back to back to my life in Delray and then there’ll be more blind dates. That’s what that’s what my life has come down to the people in my community fix me up. Now I’m looking for somebody my own and I like 60 Maybe 5961. But my they fixed me up. My last blind date was I think it was in April. She’s 40 years old, lived in Boca went to pick her up at our condo, she opens up the front door. I look inside, there’s a three foot Guana running around. I said what the hell was that? She was is my baby. As afraid to ask who the father was. And we get in the car we’re not to get to two minutes she starts making announcements Bruce in one year. I want to be married and have a baby. I looked at her I said you don’t get many second dates. Do you say kidnappers give the hostages family more time to go over the ransom note. She says I’m sorry. It’s my biological clock. So I tapped her on the forehead. I said I just hit the snooze alarm. I took it to the Cheesecake Factory. It’s like my favorite place we get it waitress hadn’t even arrived yet with the menus. Mike Dave leans across the table says hey, Bruce, you think I should get a boob job? I didn’t know what to say. So why don’t you have one done? See if you like it. I was being tortured. I was ready to confess to the Lindbergh kidnapping. Okay. Do you ever feel that God has put a curse on your life for something you did a long time ago. You got to pay for it every day. It’s true. I think it all started when I tore up a chain letter in 1971. never should have done that. Then my day starts telling me about the ex husband and don’t want to hear about the ex such as my ex husband was a crack at it. I said if I was married to you crack would just be an appetizer. Then the food comes halfway through the meal. Another announcement press where do you see this relationship developing into? I said a murder suicide I’m driving her home as fast as I can to another announcement. Whereas you know something? I’m not like the other women. I don’t go all the way on the first date. I said I didn’t think you did. And I dropped her off at the bus stop. You’re so lucky. You’re so lucky to have found one. And, you know, my family came to the United States. I don’t know what our histories are so but they came from Russia. 1906 they fled. And to this day when I meet these Russian these new Russians that come to me. Oh, these are the hottest women I got. So I go play around on the internet. I found this one website, Russian women.com. And I found this one woman she’s living in Chechnya. This is what her profile said. Conditions in my country are so horrible. I will do absolutely anything to get out. Now that’s what I want to hear. So I emailed her my photos, she writes back. I think I’m going to tough it out here for a while. Thank you very much. You guys are. You’re on fire. You’re the best. Thank you all. Thank you.

Scott Edwards: 

Ladies and gentlemen, that was Bruce Smirnoff live on stage. Thanks for sharing that with us. Bruce. Is anyone still listening? Yes, they’re still out there.

Bruce Smirnoff: 

They’re throwing their computers out the window.

Scott Edwards: 

Hey, you, you and I sadly have not seen that much of each over the last 20 years. Why don’t you catch us up? What do you been up to?

Unknown: 

Well, I moved. I left la I had a I had written a one man show. And I tried to you know, it was actually very well received. And if I may say so it was great show. And it got me almost to what I wanted. Because always, you know, to be on a sitcom, and this would have gotten me kind of like my own show, but it didn’t happen. So I got I got I got I for the first time I was in LA for 23 years, you know and for the first time I started to see the crack in the veneer. Like I don’t know if I can keep taking this so I stayed another two years. And I took the one man show, I knew it wouldn’t go on. It wouldn’t become a sitcom. But I turned it into a mockumentary, you know, like a fake documentary. And I had the script, I composed it with my director, Dan Cohen. And we had it. We had I went to digital film school this is, it was the beginning of the digital video where it would look like film, which is what we see everything on TV now that the beginning of it. So I could have made this film for less than, like about $30,000. And I had that money allocated. And I was going to make this documentary. And then a Larry David, fantastic show came out. And I really felt that I first of all, Larry David was, was a god to television, you know, and with Jerry, him and Jerry, I don’t have to explain it. And when his show hit, it was it was given a 10 year contract. And my show wasn’t, it wasn’t the same show. But it was in that vein, and I knew that that was just, you know, there was no way even if so, if I spent this $30,000 I honestly believe it would have been pissing, you know, down the drain. So you never know, I came to a I had what is it? It comes to? What do they call it come to what that town is a come to Jesus, but they also call it come to devote a Damascus or come to Damascus moment where I said, you know, I’ve got to stop this nonsense of trying to become famous. It’s not about being famous. It’s about being a comedian.

Scott Edwards: 

What’s it like to live in doing what you love?

Unknown: 

Yes. So I had to test myself. So I moved to New York in 2001. To just be a comedian and not care about going out for commercials and not trying to be me, me me famous, famous. It was to test myself to just so I moved to New York, and I moved to Brooklyn. It was really good. I got it, because I was really good at I had was a bad comic, in the late 70s. And mostly through the 80s. I finally got good around, maybe, let’s say 9091 92. And then I got really good. And I will I’m really good. But it doesn’t matter. But so I went to New York, I was really good. And so I got on it all the good clubs. And I was like this older guy, even though I was only 40 thing. That’s all. That’s all for comedy. So these young guys loved me. And they were gathered in a room and they all started to talk like me, it was very funny. And I and my audience, like at the comic strip in New York, on a Friday and Saturday night, you talking about like 18 year old Puerto Rican kids from the Bronx, and Brooklyn kids and all this stuff. And I’m killing. Because unlike your father, it’s almost like how Rodney you know, when Rodney was, was, he was like a generation or two older when

Scott Edwards: 

he’d go hey, man, in his 50s, mid to late 50s.

Unknown: 

Right, right, exactly, yes. And correct. And so did my friend Jackie Mason, he had two different phases of his career anyway. So it was great. But then something happened. And I’ll tell you what happened was the show Last Comic Standing. And J. Moore was a friend of mine, who was who really loved my one man show. He was a big fan of mine, he sought me out. And we had it we the last couple of years in LA was very friendly with him was great, talented guy. And I knew he was hosting the show. And I was appalled that no one called me, you know, to even do an audition. And then what happened? And I didn’t why aren’t they calling me? Why be great on Last Comic Standing? Why don’t they call me and then I came to another come to Damascus or whatever, Jesus moment where I said, I’m not. I caught myself, you’re trying to be famous. You can’t do that it either comes to you, or you forget about it. You can’t chase this tiger. It’s whatever the expression is. You can’t chase this. It’s not, you know, so I got really pissed off at myself got. And I said, I got to move away from New York. I got to further so you blame yourself. I blame myself and it was my fault. So I moved to Florida, to like, try to get out of show business. I said,

Scott Edwards: 

By the way, Florida.

Bruce Smirnoff: 

It’s non existent. It’s like trying to find a swimming pool in the desert. Right. So I moved to Florida. And I’m trying to I have no business sense. All I know, is trying to be a comedian from 18 years old. I don’t know anything else. So I’m trying to with my savings, I’m trying to find someone you know, maybe I can open up a coin operated laundry, because you know, you know I need to start or maybe a yogurt and no one would take me as a capital and no one would take me on as a partner. So what happened was unknowingly I wandered into Yeah, there is no comedy clubs, per se in Florida, but there’s plenty of places to perform. which I didn’t understand. There’s all these senior citizens places. So with a little bit of I was, I had become this young baby even though I was 46 years old, I was now a youngster compared to these 80 year old people. And the performers who performed for these 80 year old people had also become 80 years old, and there was no one in between that gap. So here was this new guy that could work these ethnic, mainly Jewish, or some Italian, but mostly New York audiences that moved to Florida. And with a little bit of with a little bit of trying, I became like a really big act down here. And I did very well,

Scott Edwards: 

I bet they loved editorial. And you were never dirty. You know, I

Unknown: 

had to change a lot. I had a no no, no, no, I had to change a lot of my material can be caustic odor membrane to do the joke about my grandmother had Alzheimer’s disease, and Lou Gehrig’s disease, she swears she hit 100 home runs, but she never remembered when. Right? I remember that. I shouldn’t do that joke. As grandma’s no longer with us. We traded at the Cleveland, well, that seems to be one of my batting 307. That was like a big joke of mine. And when you if you when I did that the first time that these condos, I lost the audience. Because these people, their husbands or wives, they’re suffering from that disease. And you’re not wearing you have to look at this world with their eyes, not with a youngster who’s got a screw it all attitude. So I really had to x out almost 15 minutes of my material and come up with different stuff. That’s why the transition took me about a year. But then, within a year or two, I was like a top I’m

Scott Edwards: 

still I was gonna say with your talent. I’m sure you came up with plenty of material about oh, yeah, man.

Unknown: 

I’m really Yeah. I’m really really, really good. Now, but I’m cornball. So Young.

Scott Edwards: 

Living in Florida joke.

Unknown: 

I got a million of them. But I don’t put me on the spot. When you put me on the spot. I can come up with one. Oh, I’m up with them. But I’m getting somewhere. Not only am I good. Now there’s these cruise ships down here. And I never thought I would do well on the ship. Because like I said, I become like a fuddy duddy with my material. And these young these, these cruise lines. They’ve got kids and families. And some of them are very ultra religious people, you know, that are very Bible, and I don’t want to upset the applecart so, so but I did not know about these luxury cruise lines that have elderly people that are gazillionaires and five star service. And I didn’t know about that. And then one of these lines heard about me and I had a fill in for a comic. And I was very nervous. And they said, Look, just do what you can do. Because it was last minute. It was actually Sammy shore, who heard his back and couldn’t make the cruise. So they said can you be at the port? in like three hours. I say I live like 10 minutes from the church. So I went on the ship. So this way was the best way to get on. There was no pressure. If I didn’t do well, no problem. If I did well, even better, and they did great. And that started me on about a 12 year run on the ships doing as much as half a year on the ship. You lose your mind. But you make a lot of money. And it is extremely lonely even though you’re around people. It’s a very weird, weird, weird experience.

Scott Edwards: 

And you’re not on vacation. You’re a part of the crew. And no, I’m not part dude. Well, I’m not part of the crew, but you’re also not on vacation or No, I’m not on vacation. I’m working correct. But no, the thing the beauty about this gig is I’m a passenger. I’ve got as great of a cabin as the past as these millionaires from Iowa. The guy who owns a corporation, I’m in the same room as him with a walk in bathroom, marble bathroom, walking closet. Balcony. crew’s quarters, do they do?

Bruce Smirnoff: 

They do? I did when you work on these exclusive lines. This is what it’s different. So I fell into I fell into a bucket of poop. I got lucky. Okay, but let me tell you the first step of getting ready. So I did that first. And then they gave me this big contract like 13 weeks. And I go on my first official cruise after my trial run. And it’s in Alaska, and half or three quarters of the cruise is chartered by funeral directors. Okay. And I got to tell you something about funeral practice. So not a fun bunch of people there. Obviously, this is not a big thing. So that so okay, that being said, I go on stage. And my audience is basically all Funeral Directors. I’m ready to go not a problem for me. And as they’re introducing me a terrible thing happens. Someone has like a heart attack. And they’re this is like this is going on about 90 seconds before I’m being introduced and the emcee of the show is introducing me from backstage. So he’s not aware of this incident that there’s a rallying or, or pounding on his chest. And like, and so they introduced me. And as I walk out on stage, my microphone is cut by the master PA system, which is the captain of the ship going Code Blue, Code Blue, show room, Code Blue, which means a medical emergency in the show room. And oh my god, it’s like my first time. It’s my second week on a cruise my first week of this contract, and I’ve got to prove myself. And here’s this master catastrophe. Now working for you all these years and working for other comedy clubs. You got young people, there’s no problem going on. But when you’re with 80 year old people, this is what happens. And it’s happening at the worst time. And they’re pounding and I’m standing there like a schmuck, and it’s never happened to me. Now. It’s happened to me a few times, I know how to deal with it, but I didn’t know how to deal with it. It’s scary. And like a moron. I look at the audience. And I as I’m watching this, I go, looks like someone’s gonna get a little extra work this week. Oh, no, you didn’t? Yes, I did. Yes, I did. Because I was stuck between a rock and a hard place. And I had to do so I didn’t, this never happened to me before. So I said that, and the Oh, my God, very inappropriate, say belief. And I couldn’t stop myself. And then I said, Look at the bright side, folks, you can write this trip off as a taxable deduction. Oh, my God, one by one, they got up and left the room, but not like at one, one by one like a row of corn, six up out. And I’m doing my act about 20 minutes in. I went from like 400 people to like 40 people, and they they didn’t list finally the 40 people, they were in for the they were in for the long. Oh, terrible. And they fired me. And so all those weeks, I lost those weeks. But then I got back to Miami. And I called my agent. And I said, this is what happened. And I just basically told her what I just told you. And she’s screaming at the end of the phone. She’s on the floor laughing. She goes, Just what are you. So they call the cruise ship lines is unprecedented. And they put me on with the Vice President of the ship line. And I said I’m very sorry that this happened. But here’s what happened. And I’ve never had experience with this in my life. And I told him the story. And he starts laughing on the phone. So he goes, No problem. We’re putting it back on Iran with the Manhattan trip. So I got I got, he said, I’m going to be on the ship. So I’m going to watch you and make sure everything is kosher. So I was on with a Manhattan transfer, you know who they are. One of my great, they were really big at the same time, Robert Klein was big. So it was like the Manhattan transfer. And Robert Klein were like, Oh, they were like my heroes in here. I got to work with them. So I’m in the middle of my act probably like five minutes in and the Vice President, you know, this is when he renewed you know, let me come back on. And he’s like in the second row, and I did a big, you know, screaming, and I remember this one particular joke, it’s just explosion of laughter. And I just look over at him, and it gives me the you know, the height sign. And that was it. So, you know,

Scott Edwards: 

you’re taken care of Yeah, yeah. Well take a while that that would be shocking that somebody is out there dying when you could get in or do

Unknown: 

so. Yeah, you’re right. So and then it’s happened three more times. Not on ships per se, but on land gigs, right? You’re going on woman falls down head bleeding, but the whole, but now I know what to do. And let me and if there’s any entertainers out there, this is what you do. You have to put on your big boy pants. You you you go above entertainer. You actually become like police officer, ambulance slash worker and advisor. You just go out and go, ladies and gentlemen, there will be a delay in the show. And you say you’re not saying it in a comedic way. You’re saying it is someone that’s taken people want control to be taken when there’s chaos. And you have to I mean, this is the sixth edition you learn doing this stuff. So you have so with a woman fell before I went on this big Jewish organization up with them blood all over, she didn’t die or anything but blood they’re mopping and I just wanted various gentlemen, there will be a delay in this evening show. And they got it all taken care of they grabbed it right in front of everybody in an ATM, you know, on a gurney and the whole thing and you know, you went I went on and the show was like they knew what happened. I knew what happened. So we kind of they laughed lightly at my jokes and I did them I did my act you know as good as I could after seeing such a terrible thing happen. So all in all, it was like a you know an okay experience. I didn’t bomb and the audience wouldn’t let me bombs Because they understood what what had just happened.

Scott Edwards: 

Yeah, those are the kinds of things that happen on the road that you just can’t plan for. And you have, well, no,

Unknown: 

no, now I can handle almost anything. Like when you’re on a ship, they have these codes. Like if this code blue means is a medical emergency. And if God forbid, there’s a fire.

Scott Edwards: 

That’s code, bravo, what’s the code for iceberg?

Unknown: 

Listen, you wanted a joke. I was in the middle of a joke or interrupting me, like you always did. You gotta interrupt, because then I was gonna say, and if somebody jumps off the ship, it’s called refund. And that’s a great

Scott Edwards: 

Bruce, I’m sorry. You’re the best. Crazy. So it sounds like you you. You did some moving around. But you settled in somewhere where you know that I was with Jeff Burkhart. You remember him? Right? Yeah.

Unknown: 

You got to get him on this podcast because he has become maybe one of the top comedians. He’s on the ship so much now that I don’t think he gets a week off that and He’s saving his money. But he was he was just starting out. And he was working with me at your club. And you’re bending over backstage. You were fixing something. And you’re like giving me an order though their shirt and I never you say what Jeff and I are walking by you. And like you’re cracking your ass is like is like clothes while you’re like trying to fix a wire. And I just looked at I said blow it out. Giraffe. And Jeff Burkhart did this take? You said that to a club owner? I said that’s Scott Edwards. It’s not a club owners got it. Well, this day, whenever he calls me, I go hello. I will just here monitor blow it out of your eyes.

Scott Edwards: 

Well, thank you for sharing that moment. Yeah. But you’re very funny guy. And I think that you have lots of opportunity in your experience as always. Yeah. Yeah. Made you one of the best reactive and entertaining entertaining comics that we’ve had.

Bruce Smirnoff: 

And like I said, you know, I won’t agree with you. I’m really good. But I will. But not some of the greatest you have. We love Rosie. Oh, I think right. So I’m stepping over you.

Scott Edwards: 

I apologize. Oh, no, that’s okay. Yeah, I step on your jokes. You step on my podcast. It’s fair. Hey, I did want to say thank you for doing this. We enjoyed your comedy set. I’ve enjoyed catching up and hearing what’s been going on. And some of the stories from the past. Bruce, always a pleasure. We’re going to not let another 20 Years go by let’s stay in contact. And got Thank You for listeners. Thank you for listening. And I hope you enjoyed theshow everybody in the audience that if you ever make it out to Florida, you look up Bruce Smirnoff in front of the cruise ship check.

Bruce Smirnoff: 

You can find me on youtube Scott just having having Google me on YouTube and look me up.

Scott Edwards: 

Well, there you go. We appreciate you listening. We hope you enjoyed the show. There’s going to be a new show coming out next Sunday. And Bruce, what can I say? It’s been a lot of pleasure, Scott. Oh long pleasurable journey with you. And it’s it’s not over yet. No, it is. Alright, thank you, ladies and gentlemen. You have a good week. Bruce, you take care. Thanks for listening. Bye.

Announcer: 

We hope you enjoyed this episode of Stand Up Comedy your hosting MC. For information on the show merchandise or to send comments to Scott, visit our website at WWW dot stand up your host and emcee.com Look for more episodes soon and enjoy the world of stand up comedy. Visit a comedy show room near you.

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