Comedy Spotlight: Tom Kelly
I moved to NYC several years ago, only knowing my best friend from college. My first day in the NBC Page Program, I went from having one NYC friend to 70 new friends. It was great. We were a bunch of young, creative, ambitious people from all over the world, who just wanted a shot in the entertainment industry, and we were willing to beat the s**t out of each other to get that opportunity during the day, then party like rock stars with each other by night. One of those creative, ambitious youngsters was a funny guy named Tom Kelly.
Kelly was the NBC Page Program’s class clown. Tom’s silly antics kept us going. No matter how ridiculous our assignments were (passing out yodels for Rosie O’Donnell), or how awesome they were (passing out cheese at Soledad O’Brien’s house party), Tom Kelly was going to make sure the pages left those assignments with a smile, when there was absolutely nothing to smile for.
Many NBC pages from our class have gone on to do a lot of wonderful things in the entertainment industry, and many have become, well um…teachers, which is f***ing frightening considering the s**t we were up to. However, class clown Tom Kelly went on to do exactly what he was already doing all along: comedy. Tom has been able to survive as a stand-up comedian in NYC as the residential warm up act for The View, as well as America’s Got Talent, and Good Morning America Summer Concert Series. After watching him in a hilarious St. Patrick’s Day segment on The View, I had to get him in my chair.
Chalaire: Hi Tom!
TJK: Do NOT ask me about my co-workers.
Chalaire: OH, so you won’t be able to tell me who’s getting fired or hired?
TJK: I honestly don’t know anything.
Chalaire: OK, well thanks for coming in. Bye.
Chalaire: What made you get into comedy?
TJK: Well, there are two reasons. There’s a professional reason, and then there’s the reason I learned from my therapist.
Chalaire: (laughs) I want to hear both.
TJK: The professional reason is I was young starting out with a bunch of guys and girls at NBC, and no one wanted to give me a TV show, or let me write for their shows. I decided the best way to become a writer was to perform it.
The real reason, I learned through my therapist, is no one listens to me unless I have a microphone or I’m crying.
Chalaire: So you’re one of those people? Were you bullied?
TJK: Yes, who wasn’t? In high school I learned how to charm the bullies. I believe all successful people were bullied.
Chalaire: Do you think that’s what drives people to be successful, revenge?
TJK: For me it is. I’m still trying to sleep with the hot girl that I wasn’t able to get when I was young.
Chalaire: Speaking of that, you write a lot of comedy about not being able to get a girl. How is that possible? There are tons of single women in NYC?
TJK: Yeah, there are tons of women, not willing women.
Chalaire: (Laughs) But, you’re on TV. Shouldn’t that make it easy?
TJK: So is Gilbert Gottfried. How many women are f***ing him?
Chalaire: Suddenly I see your point.
TJK: One thing I’m learning is if I found a girlfriend I’d have to write a new act. Let me tell you right now, I have 8 killer minutes ready for Jimmy Fallon, and if I started dating somebody I would waste those 8 killer minutes.
TJK: As Chalaire laughs I’m going to say this to Fallon: Please call me because I would like to move on with my damn life.
Chalaire: I suspect you’re going to still be single for a while.
TJK: I’m a victim of seeing myself as a 10. The women I see as 10’s see me as a 4. I chase unrealistic girls, and then I lose interest when they pay attention. I’ll keep adding you on Facebook until you accept, then I don’t click on any of your pictures.
Chalaire: So, it’s just about the chase?
TJK: I really enjoy going after things I’ve been told I can’t have, which is why there are several restraining orders against me, and I may or may not be on one or two small town sex offender lists.
Chalaire: Wow! Why did I feel like you’re not kidding? Moving along, you grew up in Long Island…has it been easier for you to get into the comedy scene since you grew up here?
TJK: Yes, I grew up in Massapequa so it’s easy compared to other comedians from places like Rochester, NY. Family is important to me so I’ve made a commitment to make it in NYC. I’m not going to L.A. unless Leno retires and Fallon doesn’t want to move to 11:30PM.
Chalaire: You mentioned Leno, have you ever been on any of the talk shows as a guest?
TJK: I’ve been on The View many times, and I’m also the warm up comedian for that show.
Chalaire: How did you get your gig on The View?
TJK: After the NBC Page Program I worked for Rosie O’Donnell’s show. I took a lot of great dead end jobs in TV, including a writing job for Elvis Duran’s morning show. I started performing after that. As a last hurrah I was in Florida filming a web show about me quitting comedy to become a dancing male mermaid. While I was self-financing and producing this show about me quitting comedy, I get a call to fly back to NYC to audition for Bill Geddie because the person Rosie O’Donnell originally wanted wasn’t available. Rosie recommended me to Bill Geddie and that’s how it happened.
Chalaire: Damn, so you got a Rosie O’Donnell recommendation? Maybe I shouldn’t have eaten her yodels back in the day. Oooh, that didn’t come out the right way.
TJK: (laughs) Rosie’s friend Jeanette reminded her I was still alive…Barely, but still alive.
Chalaire: I’m going to suck up a bit and say that Rosie used to have the best website around. It was Twitter before Twitter.
TJK: Rosie was ahead of her time and let go of it. Her former web guy is redoing my site right now.
Chalaire: Have you ever pitched yourself for a permanent segment on The View?
TJK: No, but if I was a girl I would be sneezing on everyone to get them sick in hopes of being their last minute replacement.
Chalaire: Have you ever dated one of the audience members from The View?
TJK: I have a rule: I do not date View audience members because I think it’s disrespectful to the hosts. I’ll sleep with my groupies, but I will not sleep with their groupies.
Chalaire: As a comedian what’s the strangest thing you’ve ever seen that made you laugh?
TJK: I saw a clown snort cocaine. Yes, a man dressed in a clown costume.
Chalaire: That’s f***ing awesome! Who’s your favorite comedian?
TJK: Anyone who is on the stage at the time. I just love a show. I love show business. In terms of someone I would want to be on TV, I’d say Letterman. However, when it comes to stand-up, I’d say Chris Rock.
Chalaire: Do you have a comedy crush?
TJK: Amy Schumer comes to mind but I don’t want to give her the satisfaction. I’ll say Brittainy Taylor.
Chalaire: Is she a comedian?
TJK: Have you seen her Vine videos? She makes me laugh @brittainytaylor. She is pretty, sweet, and she only has 8,000 followers…I’m focusing on attainable celeb crushes these days.
Chalaire: Since we’re both from the NBC Page Program, how about giving some advice to the upcoming NBC Pages or people trying to get into the entertainment business?
TJK: A guy named Jonathan Groff that you may know from Conan O’Brien’s show gave me this advice: During the day take a crappy job in TV, any job you can get, just get your foot in the door. At night you chase your dreams and hopefully those two careers will come together. I did just that.
Chalaire: Well said. Thanks for coming in my friend.
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Chalaire Miller has contributed to Us Weekly, E! Fashion Police, and is an improv artist, stand-up comedian, writer, comedy blogger.and s***-talker to the stars! You can provoke her s***-talking on Twitter @laire or check out That’s What She Said.