It doesn’t take long to ease into a friendly conversation with comedian Robert Kelly. The Boston native’s frank, candid onstage style was reflected in a recent phone interview before his four Buffalo shows at Helium Comedy Club on Sept. 15 and 16.
Talking to Kelly can be like bonding with a new friend at the bar. There are lots of laughs and riffing as the conversation about how unattractive people are better, political protests and the entertainment value of toddlers passing gas. But it does make it hard work for a writer to find usable quotes for a family-friendly publication.
“(I’m) doing good,” Kelly said at the start of the interview. “It’s the end of the summer and the kids are getting back to school. I’m just waiting for that to happen so I can have some of my life back. I’m at the point of my life where I’m looking at the time pass and realize, ‘That’s an hour I’m never getting back.’ I just spent all morning playing with my four-year-old, and then panicking that I haven’t written a new joke. It’s the stuff that keeps you going. It’s a good thing, but it (also) sucks. (Parenting) is the first time in your life you can’t give up on something. Even marriage; you can kind of do your own thing for a couple of days and then get back to it. But you can’t with (kids).”
Kelly grew up in Boston, living with 13 family members in a three-bedroom house. He recalls his uncles always making him laugh, and reflected upon what keeps him smiling today.
“Silly (stuff) makes me laugh,” he said. “What doesn’t make me laugh are these Facebook videos of people falling or failing. I don’t like seeing people get hurt, but pretty much anything else (is funny). I laugh at horrific (stuff). The more taboo it is, the funnier it can be, because of the healing power of laughter. I’m not sure there’s anything funnier than making a joke at a funeral, especially if you’re really close to a person.”
Kelly’s career in stand-up has opened other opportunities. He’s appeared on the television shows “Louie,” “Maron” and “Nurse Jackie,” as well as the 2015 comedy hit movie, “Trainwreck.” Kelly’s also the host of the “You Know What Dude” podcast that is featured on the RiotCast network he also co-owns. He’s recruited a number of funny friends to also host shows on the network, including Nick DiPaolo, Rich Vos and Bonnie McFarlane.
“We’ve got a great network and respectable comedy stars on there,” Kelly said.
Kelly said he’s looking forward to returning to Buffalo, a place he admits he doesn’t get to as much as he would like.
“I really like Buffalo,” he said. “The last time I was there, it seemed that Buffalo had taken a turn for the better. I’ve gone to these cities for years, and it’s weird to see a city switch. New York and Los Angeles always get the cool places, but Buffalo and Cleveland (get nothing). But those cities always have the best people … and the hottest chicks in the world live there.”
Shows are at 7:30 and 10 p.m. Sept. 15-16 at Helium Comedy Club, 30 Mississippi St. Tickets are $23-$31. buffalo.heliumcomedy.com