STAND-UP TUESDAYS: Tom Simmons

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Stand-Up Tuesdays is a weekly comedy spotlight written by the wonderfully talented Angie Frissore. Covering both known and unknown comics, Stand-up Tuesdays is your new source for all things funny.

This week, Angie puts a spotlight on Tom Simmons and his latest release, Keep Up. If you or your comedy troupe would like to be featured on Stand-Up Tuesdays, please email utgjames@gmail.com.

If you haven’t yet heard of comedian Tom Simmons, it’s really about time you change that.

The veteran comic and winner of the 2009 San Francisco International Comedy Competition released his fifth live CD earlier this year through Rooftop Comedy Productions, aptly titled Keep Up, and it more than delivers on the strikingly sharp and intelligent humor fans have come to expect from him.

Keep Up features what may be Simmons’ best material yet, ranging from everyday observations about parenting to his views on politics and terrorism.  With Simmons, there are no cheap shots or tired bits, and he keeps his audiences on their toes with his fast-paced and well-timed witticisms.

“I used to have to remember people’s phone numbers,” Simmons quips in regards to his cell phone. “Now it’s in my phone – I don’t know your number. If we’re friends, I lose my phone, that’s it – we’re fucking done.  Till you call me, relationship over.”

While Simmons at first may seem like your typical angry-rant comedian, one soon realizes that’s simply not the case. He’s certainly not angry or bitter – in fact, he ensures that his humor touches upon both sides of the spectrum as he tells his favorite Ted Kennedy joke as a follow-up to a hilarious Sarah Palin remark.

Having had the pleasure of working with Simmons in the past (as he donated his time to perform for several Boston-area cancer benefits), I once asked him what he considered to be the most helpful experiences when he first started out in comedy.

“Stage time was by far the most helpful thing to get. I also met other comedians and we talked and wrote comedy- my friend Costaki Economopoulos and I developed a friendship and a writing connection that has been great for both our joke writing for almost fifteen years,” he told me. “That is what writers and comics do- we write. There is no way around that. So reading that over and over was important.”

What sets Simmons apart in his world-view humor is his exposure and experience in his subject matter. He’s performed in Iraq and Afghanistan for our nation’s troops, and displays a well-informed intelligence that clearly shows he’s considered all angles of what he’s talking about.

“I became with Comics On Duty in Iraq and Afghanistan because the opportunity presented itself. The guy who runs it Rich Davis saw me perform at the first Boston Comedy Festival that I did,” Tom reflects on his 2005 experience.  “Rich offered me the chance to go to Iraq. I had been anti-war and Bush and thought I should at least go and see the war, since I was trying to come across as knowing what I was talking about. I felt like most of the people in Iraq were there because it was their job and they were told to. I had a nephew who was serving. My son had just been born and I wanted to get entire night’s sleep…. lots of reasons.

I still came away as anti-war. But I was so joyfully humbled by the experiences and the people I met who serve. I was expecting so much more “Hooh-rah!” stereo-typical meathead military mentality then there is. The guys in our military are not anything like the tards who drive around with Bush stickers, American flags, and Support the Troops magnets. Most are thoughtful and caring people who are doing jobs the rest of don’t want to do – they are fighting, building schools, securing oil fields, putting their lives on the line, constructing hospitals, and living on bases away from their country and life for very long stretches. I gained a real appreciation for that in both countries.

If you’re not into politics, don’t fret – Simmons is in no way overbearing in that area and masterfully blends other subject matter into his act that will keep you hanging on every last word.  And given Simmons’ upbringing in Atlanta, one can’t help but be charmed by his eloquent southern drawl (I mean, let’s face it – if you can’t stand the sound of someone’s voice, what chance do they have?).  I, for one, could listen to Simmons perform night after night – and still laugh my ass off each time.

Check out Keep Up on Rooftop Comedy Productions today – as well as other CD’s from Tom Simmons – and give a shout out to intellectually stimulating comedy.

Written by: Angie Frissore (Follow her on Twitter).

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