By Bob Crittendon
Jimmy Brogan, one of America’s top standup comics and comedy writers, will take the stage at the San Clemente Community Center October 27, highlighting the 5th annual Encore Variety Show fundraiser of the San Clemente Military Family Outreach. The purpose of the show is to help fund the annual distribution of Thanksgiving turkeys to low income military families in north Camp Pendleton. We caught up with Brogan to see what energizes the man that the Los Angeles Times calls “an absolute master at interacting with the crowd.”
RC: Your tour list reads like the song title, “I’ve been everywhere.” With great reviews in almost every major showroom and loads of movie and television work, could this possibly be your first time to perform in San Clemente?
Jimmy Brogan: I’ve done shows in Laguna Beach, San Juan Capistrano and Carlsbad. I’ve been circling San Clemente my entire career preparing for this show.
RC: Let’s begin at the beginning. When did you first realize that you were bound for a career in comedy?
JB: When I was 8 years old I was frightened by a serious person and I’ve been funny ever since.
RC: Were your parents and family supportive of this direction?
JB: They didn’t quite understand what I was doing. I don’t come from a show biz family. The first time I did The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson in 1984, I talked to my dad the next day and he said, ”Jack really seemed to like you.” He thought Jack Paar was still hosting the show. He hadn’t heard that Paar had retired in 1962 and Johnny Carson had been doing the show for 22 years.
RC: Your nine years with the Leno show as writer and monologue creator are well known, but how have you and Jay managed to remain such good friends when Leno says you are “complete opposites?”
JB: Yes, we are “complete opposites,” but we have one thing in common and that is the love of comedy. If you had a Venn diagram of Jay and me, that tiny part of the 2 circles that overlap would be labeled comedy.
RC: Although you are one of the country’s most successful comedians, you say that you “have no act.” What does that mean?
JB: My act is very audience-interactive. Where most comics do a monologue in front of the audience, I do a dialogue with the audience. And I’m looking forward to making that connection with the San Clemente folks.
The music and comedy variety show at 7 p.m. October 27 also includes “Stars of Tomorrow,” high school vocalists, concert pianist David Dunford and a Beach Boys tribute from Woodie and the Longboards. The spotlight, however, falls on Brogan alone as the entire comedy segment. Jay Leno recognized Brogan’s ability to pick good jokes years ago, and said “If Jimmy had a stroke, we wouldn’t go off the air. But I would probably go see him in the hospital and then I’d say, “OK, one wink for a good joke and two winks for a bad.”
Open seating tickets for the October 27 show are still available at $25, and can be obtained at the office of St. Andrew’s United Methodist Church, 2001 Calle Frontera in San Clemente, Monday, Wednesday and Thursday between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m., or at the San Clemente Community Center on the night of the show.