In the green room with Tony Roberts
BY KEEGAN PROSSER
Fact: It’s been far too long since Tony Roberts came to the Northwest. Thankfully, the funny man returns to the Eastside this month – along with buddy Faizon Love – as part of the “Black Pack” comedy tour.
Born in Detroit, Roberts has appeared on a number of comedy specials – including HBO’s “Def Comedy Jam,” BET’s “ComicView,” and “It’s Showtime at the Apollo.” He’s also appeared in a handful of movies – and is currently working alongside five other comedians as part of the cast of the new sitcom “Mr. Box Office.” But his role as a stand-up comedian is where you should expect the unexpected.
“Last time we went on tour together, Faizon invited a bunch of people to come watch him get a pedicure and sign autographs,” Roberts said. “[This time] we might have 30 people in the green room.”
Also on Roberts’ agenda? Visiting Bruce Lee’s grave, of course. If you’re lucky, maybe he’ll bring you along.
SCENE: If you had to describe your act in two words, what would they be?
Tony Roberts: Unpredictable and explosive
SCENE: What inspires your comedy?
TR: The power that laughter has – the thing that it does to people. When you do stand-up you’re healing people on so many levels, and you don’t even realize it. I just love it.
SCENE: You’ve talked about popular music on stage before; what are you listening to now?
TR: I collect classic rock, so a lot of that. The Doors, Led Zeppelin, The Eagles – and the Rolling Stones. My number one group is the Rolling Stones; I just love how they perform. And I’m from Detroit so I listen to oldies, like Motown stuff.
SCENE: The Rolling Stones are celebrating their 50th Anniversary this year. Do you have any plans to go to one of their shows?
TR: I’m too busy performing myself! But I totally support them. I show them love on Twitter and stuff.
SCENE: Speaking of being busy, I understand you’re currently on set filming the sitcom “Mr. Box Office.” How does filming a TV show differ from doing stand-up?
TR: On stage you are really on your own. When you are on stage there are no rules – you just have to be funny. You’re the only boss. But on set, it’s like being in school. You have people directing you, you’ve got wardrobes and lights, you have a script to follow – and then you’ve got to get it right. TV right.
SCENE: Would you say you prefer the informality of being on stage?
TR: Yeah. I feel better when I’m by myself. But I love being on set too. The thing I’m learning about TV is that it only takes a couple episodes, and then you’re family. We all help each other out.
SCENE: “Mr. Box Office” also stars comedian Bill Bellamy. Have you worked with him previously?
TR: Oh yeah. Not on film. But we’ve done a lot of [stand-up] shows together. This Valentine’s Day we [did] four days together [for Shaquille O’Neal’s All Star Comedy Tour].
SCENE: What is your current act about?
TR: Kids. Because I’m an old-school dad, and I’ve got young kids. I’m in my forties, so I’m trying to raise them old-school style, and they’re trying to teach me these new school rules.
SCENE: How has having kids changed your act?
TR: It used to be more extreme material, like relationships and violence. Now it’s like 30 percent family; parents can relate to my set more now because I’m living [that life].
SCENE: Have you been to Northwest before?
TR: Yeah. I’ve done a few theaters there. And the Parlor. I haven’t been there for like two and half years, but I’ve got a lot of fans – a lot of Twitter followers. They’re ready for me to come back.
SCENE: So what can fans expect from your set?
TR: Some of the craziest rule-breaking you’ve scene. I’ll be performing with Faizon Love, and we always leave an impression.
Tony Roberts performs at the Parlor Live Comedy Club March 14-17. $15-30, HERE.