Buffalo last saw him in November of 2016 at Shea's Theater in the play "Momma's Boy." This weekend, Thomas Miles returns to showcase his stand-up comedy at Kleinhans Music Hall.
You know him as "Nephew Tommy" from the Steve Harvey Morning Show, airing daily on radio station WBLK. There he is known for outrageous characters including the flamboyant, sharp-tongued Eugene Ferguson, and beloved front pew church elder Bernice Jenkins. Most notoriously, he is the established king of prank phone calls. Listeners corroborate, giving him details about a friend or family member. Then Miles calls with an assumed identity and an invented crisis. YouTube is rife with his most gut-busting contrivances. But what of calls gone sideways?
"I'm always concerned that the calls end on a good note" Miles said, remembering one where Jenna from New Jersey, wished to prank her mother, Frances. Posing as an employee from the retirement home where France's mother lived, Miles said the gray-haired senior had hit someone and needed to be removed right away. Expletives flew, Frances declared she would come immediately, and abruptly hung up the phone. Miles contacted Jenna to let her know what happened - and never heard back from either of them. "I don't ever want to be malicious" Miles said, but to this day he is completely unaware of that call's final outcome.
His comedy career began as a side gig between acting jobs. "I graduated college as a theater major and studied with the Royal Shakespeare Company of London." At this point, he quotes "if for my sake thou wilt o'ertake us hence a mile or twain..." from "King Lear" as masterfully as Sir Patrick Stewart may have ever done.
Miles is currently shooting a pilot for a show called "Life After 40" based on witticisms about aging. He describes the show as "Seinfeld-esque. Each episode begins with me doing stand-up. Then we see a week in the life of my character based on themes introduced in the routine." Already on board is Carl Payne, most easily recognized from the '90s Fox network hit "Martin."
Outside of show business, Miles is a committed philanthropist through his foundation Miles Of Giving, an organization that dispenses with red tape and meets the most pressing needs of distressed veterans. The inspiration came while on a Middle East USO tour with singer Jordin Sparks, and basketball great Robert Horry. Witnessing the dedication of a soldier who lost his legs, Miles was appalled to learn that V.A. bureaucracy would leave a long gap before he received proper aid. "What about the first three months?", Miles asked himself. "That guy gave his legs in service to this country. He shouldn't have to do anything for the rest of his life."
Miles has seen service members on the brink of disaster waiting for government benefits. "Miles Of Giving is about right now. We are the 'right now' people."
What should we expect of "The Nephew" this weekend? "Stupid like this only comes around every few years, like Haley's Comet. You DON'T want to miss it," he said. Paired with Oscar-winning comedian Mo'Nique, Miles said this show promises "ignorance at its best."
Mo'Nique, Nephew Tommy and Friends
8 p.m. Jan. 6 at Kleinhans Music Hall. Tickets start at $33 (box office, Doris' Records, 286 East Ferry St., kleinhansbuffalo.org).