by Ryan Meehan
A Philly native, growing up as the son of a Philadelphia Detective wasn’t easy for Jimmy Shubert. He says “It was like having Lieutenant Colombo as a roommate, most of my childhood was an interrogation scene from Law & Order ” Jimmy and his band of six brothers were always getting into trouble, and being the middle child, Jimmy learned at an early age that a sense of humor could get him through any situation. He attended the Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts. It was from those experiences in acting class that Jimmy knew he wanted to be a comedian. Always the class clown, Jimmy performed magic tricks for his friends and family at 10 years of age. By the age of 15, he had become an accomplished professional magician. He later channeled that energy into stand-up comedy. His unique ability to see the humor in social trends and deliver his poignant and hilarious point of view on world issues has made Shubert one of the most respected and original comedians working today. Jimmy started performing right out of high school in comedy clubs around the Philly area. He later moved to Los Angeles and started working at the Comedy Store. It was at the Comedy Store where he later met Sam Kinison, and after taking him offstage on a motorcycle in front of a packed house at the Main Room they became fast friends. Kinison liked Shubert’s cockeyed chutzpah and included him as one of the original “Outlaws of Comedy” which he toured with for five years, playing major casinos in Las Vegas and other venues like the Universal Amphitheater in front of audiences as large as 6,500 people. In 1997, after a well-recognized performance at the prestigious Just For Laughs Comedy Festival in Montreal , he was spotted by the late Brandon Tartikoff, who signed Jimmy to a holding deal to develop a pilot sitcom for him to star in at 20th Century Fox, which led to another holding deal and then finally a Pilot. Jimmy’s comedy routine is usually performed with an observational point of view, in comedic short-story form, and typically focuses on poking fun at pop culture. We are delighted to have Jimmy Shubert as our guest today in 7 questions.
RM: First off, I have to ask – Do you still do magic? Why do you think that outside of larger cities and in areas like the Midwest people don’t seem to have a greater interest in magic as a form of entertainment?
JS: Yes, I still do Magic. I am very good at close up and sleight of hand tricks. I like going to the Magic Castle and hanging out, and I will occasionally stop in Magic stores in my travels and pick up a new trick to work on. I think everyone loves magic. Some of my favorite magicians are old school cats…I like Ricky J, Dia Vernon, Lance Burton, Penn & Teller, and Harry Blackstone – the original.
RM: You have a wide array of television work through the years that includes everything from network sitcoms to Disney Channel shows, as well as an extensive film resume that includes “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” and “The Italian Job”…What principles of establishing business connections with these industries have you continued to live by that has allowed you to get such awesome work? Do you think that a lot of younger and cockier comedians and actors think that they sometimes have to ignore things like that in order to create a persona of their own, and if so – How infrequently do they have the talent level which allows them to actually make it work?
JS: Well I can’t speak for younger comedians, and I mean…you’re painting with broad brush strokes here. I think people work as hard and as smart as they want to. I mean, I wanted this career…I wanted to act and do stand up, and be good at both. I fostered relationships, and I worked in acting classes on Monday nights. Plus, I am from a very working class blue collar neighborhood – I have 5 brothers and we all had jobs very early on, whether it was delivering papers or landscaping while growing up. That really helped cement my work ethic. I have always believed if you want something and you’re willing to work hard (and) smart that eventually you would get your break even if it took years. Tenacity, ambition, and perseverance. That’s the old Irish proverb: Fall down seven times, get up eight.
RM: Las Vegas seems to me like a place that can be a hotbed for great shows, but at the same time could be a trap full of hecklers as well as many other poisons that can stop a comedian in their tracks…After all these years, what’s the best memory that you have from performing in Sin City? Conversely, what was the worst experience you’ve had there?
JS: These days I always go the other direction in Vegas. I know the weeks are long and you have to learn to pace yourself, and be your own best friend otherwise it doesn’t end good. I am too old to be acting like that anyway – I am a grown man. But since you asked, last time I was in Vegas I went and did Bikram ( Hot Yoga) 4 days in a row and that made me feel amazing. I could smell liquor, nicotine and souls of ex-girlfriend sweating out of my skin as I stretched in a room that was 122 degrees. Then on Sunday Steve Simone and Eleanor Kerrigan took me to a Catholic Church…TRUE STORY!! That’s how nuts I get in Vegas…WOOT!! WOOT!!
RM: How did the day leading up to the first time you went overseas compare to the moment where you stepped out into the desert and saw where our brave men and women were living and fighting for our freedom on a daily basis? Is that the sort of thing that can be described by putting it into words; or do you have to really be able to witness it first hand to see how different life can be half a world away?
JS: As far as I am concerned, one of my favorite things I have done in my career so far was go and entertain the troops in the Middle East and Afghanistan. It was the least I could do. They have a tough job and make tremendous sacrifices – not just them, but families as well. So I was more than happy to go entertain them, do my jokes and bring a little piece of home over there. God Bless those folks.
RM: What has been your favorite episode of the podcast so far and why? When did you make the decision to step into that medium and what sets your podcast apart from all of the others in the comedy genre?
JS: I like the episodes where my dad calls in – there are a few of those, I have a bunch of brothers and they also call in from time to time. I have great guests, it’s definitely fun to do and we live in that age now where you have to attend to social media. If you’re a comedian and you don’t have a podcast- there is something wrong with you. My podcast “The Jimmy Shubert Show” is available on iTunes, Stitcher, and Jimmyshubert.com so people can tune in and make up their own minds.
RM: Your Facebook page says that you are Catholic but “More into Celtic Spirituality than organized religion” and that you are libertarian because you believe in “less government and more personal responsibility”. Do you think that in a way your outlook on those two things are related to each other? How are you able to translate those beliefs into humor so that people who don’t share those views might still find it funny?
JS: My beliefs are personal…Everyone has to work shit out for themselves, and those philosophies seem to make sense to me based on my life experience. I do believe in personal responsibility and I believe whatever you throw into the universe comes back at you tenfold. So I guess what I am trying to say is “Don’t be a dick”…
RM: Are there any topics that are a large part of modern culture that you don’t really like to talk about on stage?
JS: I don’t do rape, cancer and or AIDS jokes. I support any comedian’s right to do them, but I don’t. It’s a personal choice.
RM: What’s up next for you in 2014? Anything big in the works that we should know about?
JS: Yes – People can watch me May 22nd on the Premiere of Last Comic Standing season 8 at 9:00 PM on NBC – it is the invitational round. Also on Saturday night May 24 I will be on Comedy Underground with Dave Attell on Comedy Central, and I’m really excited to be part of that show. I love the way they shoot that show – It is unfiltered, uncensored, and amazing…so set your DVR’s people!
Official Website: http://jimmyshubert.com/
Jimmy on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jimmyshubert
Jimmy on Twitter: https://twitter.com/jimmyshubert
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