As the former host of VH1’s “Comedy Spotlight,” Bobby Collins is old school enough to tour with acts like Frank Sinatra and Cher, while continuing to remain relevant by working with Chris Rock and Jimmy Fallon.
Collins is a New York City native who developed a deep appreciation for Buffalo while attending the University at Buffalo. It’s a fondness that continues to this day as he recalls eating wings at Duff’s, visiting friends near SUNY Buffalo State at places including Coles and enjoying “the biggest sandwiches I’ve ever seen” from the former Muellers Delicatessen. Collins is returning to Buffalo for two reasons this weekend: his daughter’s graduation from Daemen College on Saturday and, later that day, he headlines two shows at Rob’s Comedy Playhouse.
Question: How was your time at the University of Buffalo?
Answer: I loved it. The people up there: they wear their hearts on their sleeves, they know the value of a dollar and they look into people, rather than at. I live out here in California, and when you talk to these people, you go, “Why don’t you roll your head around so you can hear the marble going round and around?”
Q: Do you have favorite memories of Buffalo?
A: God, a lot. Here’s one for you: A couple of lunatics, Bob and his brother, put on a bunch of shows at Kleinhans. What was his name?
Q: The Weinsteins?
A: Yes. They used to hire me and a couple of my other friends, and we used to stand in front of the stage to keep the kids from jumping up. (Years later), I’m at a Hollywood party, and I look and go, “Bob.” He looks and says, “Oh, you’re the funny guy.” I go, “What’s up?” He says, “Miramax.” We had great memories from Buffalo. Was it cold? Were the people wonderful? They still are. My daughter goes to school there. How great is that? She’s graduating Saturday.
The people there are just wonderful. To this day, when I’m traveling around the country and going to different theaters, people still come up to me and say, “Hey, I heard you went to the University of Buffalo.” It’s just a warm feeling.
Q: You have a new book out, “On the Inside.” What’s it about?
A: What, you know a little bit more about life than me? Listen to you. It’s a new book that’s doing really well. It’s (subtitled) “Witisms and Wisdomisms.” It’s about all the things that people would laugh when they read it. I get people who cry. I have a special-needs daughter and I write a chapter about growing up with her and how it changes your heart and life.
There’s also a lot of wisdom. Things that people tend to forget about after we grew up, especially in a neighborhood like Buffalo. You know, like “What goes around comes around;” “God first, family second, career third: You put one ahead of the other, you always got to get back on where you got off;” “Never get out of the shower to pee, cause you’re already there.” There’s about 15 of them, and people seem to love them. It’s really nice.
A friend’s son was really devastated after he broke up with a girl. My friend asked me to talk to him. I looked at him and said, “Here’s the bottom line: We all get hurt growing up, but you never lost anything you didn’t own. Otherwise, she would still be there. Let her go. If she comes back, it was meant to be. Keep going. Keep your eye on the donut, not the hole.” The guy looked at me and said, “I know exactly what you’re talking about, thanks.” It’s all the street (stuff) I learned growing up in New York City. I used to say silly things to my kids, and my wife says, “Where do you come up with this silly (stuff)?” I say, “It’s not silly, it’s wisdom.” She says, “You’re so smart, why don’t you write a book?”
Who: Bobby Collins
When: 8 and 10 p.m. Saturday
Where: Rob’s Comedy Playhouse, 1340 North Forest Road, Williamsville
Info: 688-1867, robscomedyplayhouse.com