Jimmy Shubert starred in GO, The Italian Job and Mr & Mrs Smith and can also be found in your illegally bought copies of King of Queens, Entourage, ER and Monk. He puts on a great stand-up show and is capable of, “blowing the roof off any A-list comedy club” according to NY Daily News. You can check him out at the Kung-Fu Komedy Club this weekend. Here is the exclusive interview we had with him.
Shanghaiist: What was your favourite joke as a kid?
Jimmy Shubert: I wouldn’t say I had a favourite joke, but I was always buying joke books. I used to be a magician, and when I would go to buy a new trick I would always pick up a joke book. I used to memorise these full routines, even when I was a kid, and then try them out on my friends. So I don’t’ think I ever had a favourite joke- I was always a lot more interested in how to make people laugh as opposed to what joke made everybody laugh.
SHist: Your IMDB page says that you would always use humour to get out of any sticky situation you got into as a kid. What situations are we talking about here?
JS: Well, I have six brothers. We were always getting in some kind of trouble. And my dad was a police detective. I actually felt bad for him because we were always getting into trouble. And I found out that if I could make him laugh then I wouldn’t be in as much trouble.
SHist: Tell me about your first experience as a stand-up comic.
JS: My first experience was doing open mics in Philadelphia and it was really tough at first. The first time I did okay, but the next couple of times were really tough because Philadelphia audiences are really tough. If you’re not funny, they’ll let you know immediately. I actually have some videos of my first couple of times that I watch occasionally. They’re almost unwatchable because the audiences are so brutal, they’re heckling you and they’re very unforgiving audiences. It made you want to get funny really fast, let me put it that way.
SHist: Have your jokes changed since you worked as one of the original Outlaws of Comedy?
JS: Yes. They changed a lot. Sam [Kinison] was one of the best comedians in the country. He was very influential, he was doing five, six thousand seat arenas, and I was opening those shows. I was just finding my voice, but you’re doing it in front of 6 thousand people. I had a lot of energy and a big stage presence because you had to make five thousand people intimate-you had to perform the whole jokes. I learnt a lot from touring with Sam. After he passed away in ’92 I went back onto the road to really find my own voice and to really work on my stand-up, and I did. I really got funny, I found my voice, it was working and I found it. It took about nine to ten years till I could get funny enough to make a living doing it.
SHist: Do you prefer doing stand up or working on the set of a TV sitcom?
JS: The best job in show business is working on a sitcom and ultimately that is what I’d rather do. But I also still want to perform- I still want to do stand-up. I mean I’ve been all over the world telling jokes. I’ve been to South Korea, Israel, Ireland, Afghanistan doing shows for military. I think it’s amazing to go to all these places and get paid for it. But you know, you work on a book, and a year and a half goes by before you get to see the end of it. Standup it’s immediate. And sitcoms, it’s a systemized world- you got 5 days on, 2 days off. That’s the goal.
SHist: Are you working on any projects at the moment?
JS: Yeah, a one-man show and I’m also looking forward to going to China. I’m actually going to take some time off this summer to work on my one-man show. And I’m getting ready to tape a new hour special for Showtime.
SHist: What do you imagine China is going to be like?
JS: I’m scared. I don’t know the language, I don’t know how to get around. It’s exciting but it’s a little nerve-racking at the same time. It’ll be a challenge and we’ll see how it goes.
200RMB on-the-door, 170RMB presale // Friday & Saturday @ 20:30, Saturday @ 22:00 // Kung Fu Komedy Club: 5/F, 219 Jinxian Lu, near Shanxi Nan Lu 进贤路219号5楼, 近陕西南路 // For pre-sales, call Andy on 130-2219-5523 or get them at Smart Shanghai.