Theater: Billy Kelly Delivers A Hilarious Holiday Weekend
Our mission at Skeebop is to introduce families to the best family entertainment. When we're asked if Skeebop is for kids or parents, we say, both. For marketing and other business-y types, that's really hard to wrap their head around. But in reality every iPad app or extracurricular activity is a joint decision. So, we insist, Skeebop is a destination for families.
An artist who epitomizes the spirit of family entertainment is comedian/musician (or is it musician/comedian?) - in any case, it is the multi-talented, multi-faceted, Grammy nominated, Billy Kelly.
Billy is currently touring the country performing his recently released first family comedy album, aptly titled, My First Comedy Album. And the next stop - New York! That's right, Billy will do two shows this Thanksgiving weekend in both, Brooklyn and Bellmore.
Just in time too!
This past year has been an emotional time for American families. Do you think a family comedy show is timely?
Yes, I think it would be nice if we could blow off some post-election steam with laughter. I do think that the family comedy show is an idea whose time has come, in that is an idea whose time has long since passed and everything old is new again. Family entertainment used to just be called "entertainment". People of all ages sat by fireplaces in rooms together and listened to stories and songs. There were no cell phones and no electricity and no television. This was back in the early 70's by the way. Anyway, I think a return to that sort of communal entertainment IS needed today.
Honestly, what makes my kid laugh, doesn't always make me laugh. How do you come up with jokes that are both funny to kids and adults?
I just write jokes that *I* find funny, and hope for the best. Humor is totally subjective. There is nothing you can do but follow your gut and keep trying the jokes out in front of audiences to get a sense of how many other people share your sense of humor. So I don't think in terms of "funny for kids" and "funny for adults" when I write. I think in terms of "funny for me" and hope the fact that I never really grew up will take care of the rest.
You've performed as a comic and musician. What inspired the decision to put out a kids comedy album?
I've been entertaining kids since my own daughters were small and now that they are teenagers I've lost my inspiration to write songs for young kids. All my song ideas are now things like, "No, You Cannot Have Two iPhones" and "I Thought You Said You Were Going to Rake the Yard." Not really "HIT" material. One thing I am inspired about still is making my kids laugh though. So just like with my kids music, where back in 2009 I thought "Well, my daughters like these songs so maybe other kids will too," I found myself thinking, "I wonder if other families might find this stuff funny." So I made a comedy album just to find out. So far so good.
We've seen professional comics turn musician but it's unusual to see a musician turn comic. What are the challenges transitioning from a professional musician to a professional comic?
The biggest difference I've noticed is that musicians can make little jokes in between songs and return quickly to playing music if the crowd doesn't laugh. So you can spontaneously go from being someone
who makes bad jokes to someone who knows how to play an instrument and sing. You are instantly talented again in the audience's eyes, which cancels out the bad joke. The comedian does not have this
luxury. Comedians are living and dying by the joke the whole time they are onstage. If people don't laugh at a joke you are stuck and you have to dig yourself out with the next joke right away. That makes the experience much more intense as a performer. The good news is you do not have to help the drummer carry his gear out to the van after the show!
My daughter tells jokes and she’s actually ok. (Good to me means remembering the joke and the punchline.) What would you tell a kid who wants to become a comic?
Please tell your daughter I said to keep up the good work! The world needs laughs! As far as advice, I would say the same thing to kids and adults about this. If you want to be a comedian, write jokes often and keep saying them in front of people. Get your family together in the living room and do a show for them if that's the only option available to you. Like if you are 9 and can't drive. (I assume if you are 9 that you can't drive.) See which jokes work, and which ones don't, make some changes and then do another show. And another one. And another one. And ten thousand 'nother ones!