Hear the antics at the Improv Comedy Club this weekend that'll make you say, 'now, that's one funny Guy'
By FELICIA C. HANEY
Originally known as the younger brother of comedic actor Joe Torry, Hollywood has seen Guy Torry grow through the last 20 years, coloring outside the lines of his big brother’s shadow. You may have seen him in a host of movies, an abundance of television shows and more than likely doing what he does best – ripping the stage at a comedy club near you. This week he’ll be doing exactly that when he comes to Cleveland for a four-day run at the Improv Comedy Club and Restaurant beginning Wednesday, Jan. 30.
Taking time away from his busy schedule as a new comedy club owner in Los Angeles, Torry talked to CP2 to get us up to speed on what was going on in the world of an ordinary “Guy” from the Midwest turned Hollywood mogul. A professed lover of Cleveland, Torry raved about his connections with the city – our very own Kym Whitley works one night a week at his club co-hosting with his co-owner Kim Coles – and although it’s been a while, he always has a good time performing here.
Currently touring the comedy club circuit, Torry is excited about going back to the basics of what branded him in his career as a comic… hitting the road. “Nothing takes precedence over my stand-up career right now,” Torry said via a phone interview that almost didn’t happen due to him getting his house in order at the new club. If it wasn’t for that good ole 216 area code showing up in his phone, Torry admits almost ignoring us in the midst of him telling one of his comics “you need to get your sh!t together.”
Whoever that comic is can thank us later for rescuing him from that tongue lashing. But, Cleveland may not get off as easy… Torry told us that his show is “uncut, unfiltered and unexplained behavior.” So, those with sensitive ears need not apply for a seat as an audience member. But for those who want the real, you’ll have some real laughs at some real funny ish this weekend. Here he talks about his upcoming visit to C-Town, his other comedic ventures and his secret aspirations as a chef. Turns out Torry makes some greens so good you’ll want to slap yo’ mama! Or do some other things… But, you have to keep reading for that…
Well since you’re telling people they need to get their sh!t together, you must have yours together. So, tell us what you have going on…
[Laughs] I wish I had my sh!t together. No of us really has our sh!t totally together. Even Obama can do some sh!t better. Do we really ever have out sh!t together completely? No, we don’t. We just bullsh!t our way through until we get it together. Sometimes our reputation out does our production. That’s what the Lakers are going through. They have a great reputation, but the production sucks right now.
That’s true. I’ll have to use that one.
[Laughs] Feel free. But what’s going on with me is that I’m just touring and getting ready for my first cable comedy special as well as shooting a documentary on a comedy night that really revolutionized urban nights in White clubs around the country. I’ve got interviews from everyone, including Katt Williams. There’s a TV show being developed for me. Most recently I invested in a comedy club in LA. It’s a Black-owned comedy club called Comedy Union that myself and Kim Coles recently invested in. The club has existed for about 12 years but needed a facelift and change of culture, so we took it over. Kym Whitley, who’s a native of Cleveland, does Tuesday nights there with her. It’s called Ladies’ Night, but I call it Titanic Titty Tuesdays ‘cause they both have some Titanic Titties [laughs]. Earthquake has a night here too, every Wednesday. It’s one of the few Black-owned comedy clubs in the country and my goal is because it’s Comedy “Union,” to make it a fun, more friendly place for comedians and at the same time I want a marriage between the veterans and new up-and-coming comics. Make it less cutthroat.
Cleveland comedian Cortney Gee told me that old comedians don’t like new comedians. Why is it like that?
I think it’s like that in every genre, be it comedy, art, music, construction… This microwave generation we live in wants instant gratification and oftentimes don’t want to do the work and study the craft. You may do a great three-minute bit on the Internet that gets 2 million hits, but do you have what it takes to sustain an hour show? I think it’s that, not all but enough, of new comics take the audience for granted as if there’s a sense of entitlement and it’s not. I’m very appreciative when people show up for my shows and I’ve been doing this for 20 years. I was hosting on the original “Kings of Comedy” tour and those guys gave me an education every night. If I was one of those people who just wanted to be on TV I wouldn’t just now be doing my first cable comedy special. I have to have something to say. I’m a perfectionist and I like for things to be right, and at the right time.
And right now you’re gearing up to come to Cleveland [later this week]. Is this part of a tour?
My normal comedy club circuit tour. The comedy club’s a gym. That’s where you go and work your stuff out and get it ready for a national tour, a comedy special, a “Tonight Show” or something like that. It’s part workout part show. A lot of the time people are hearing a joke in its infancy. They’re privy to jokes before they hit the big market. And I love Cleveland. Cleveland has always been one of my favorite cities even though I haven’t been there in a minute. But, I’m excited to come and give Cleveland an ab workout. I’m gonna come fill the hole LeBron left.
Uh-oh! Did you say the L word?
He left a big ass hole in Cleveland. Boy, I tell ya, the sun didn’t shine for a while behind that. And the Browns aint crap either so you all could use a laugh in Cleveland right now. But, you have Kyrie Irving who’s great. I think he and that team have a bright future so the NBA love will be back in Cleveland real soon.
Let’s backtrack and talk about another comedian you mentioned who’s also an Ohio native. What is going on with Katt Williams?
You know what’s funny? I’ve been knowing Katt for about 17 years. I’ve actually been hanging out with Katt over the past few weeks. I don’t know if people realize it, but Katt is actually a genius. He’s not doing too many smart things right now, but he’s intelligent. He has an IQ of 160. See, Katt set the bar high for himself and grabbed everybody’s attention. And, to outdo that is a tall task. It’s a lot of pressure.
There’s a fine line between genius and insanity.
Right. Sometimes you get so intelligent that you may go off the other end. And sometimes you can’t relate to people who are beneath you thinking wise and it drives them crazy. He’s definitely a talented cat. I have a lot of respect for him and I think once he gets that stuff together… Katt will be back. We’re comedians. We’re mixed nuts anyway.
When did you know you were funny?
There are several epiphanies but the first time I can remember making people laugh was when I was 5 years old. My aunt was feeding us and she said “…boy, you aint touch those grits.” So, I took my finger and started poking my grits saying “look, I’m touching ‘em now!” She reached back to backhand me and then just busted out laughing and all my brothers and sisters laughed. That’s the first time I can remember making someone laugh. But my real epiphany came two years after I was doing stand up. I had my first TV appearance on “Def Comedy Jam” and when I made that crowd laugh, I was like “OK, this is what I want to do.”
Are there any jokes you won’t do?
I don’t joke about rape. I won’t talk about anything cancer. And I won’t talk about plus-sized women. Anything else, I could give a shit about. You can’t please everybody. There’s a difference between a comic and a comedian. A comedian makes things funny, a comic says funny things. I say what most comics are scared to say. No filter.
Is that a synonym for ignorant?
[Pauses] … Very ignorant. And I don’t apologize for it. It’s funny, it’s ignorant and it’s sexy. I’m gettin’ a hard on just thinking about it right now. I have to go take a cold shower.
[Bursts into laughter] Wow! Well before you go, tell everyone how to get in touch with you.
Instagram is @guytorrylive, Twitter is @guytorry, Facebook and Social Cam are Guy Torry.
I just followed you on Instagram. I see you have a lot of food on there.
I love to cook. I make the best greens, I call ‘em my “give it up greens” ‘cause every time I make ‘em panties just start falling off at the door. I call them mean greens when I’m doing family stuff and television, but the real name is give it up.
I was about to ask for some until you told me that!
We’ll have to call yours the “leave it alone greens [laughs].” No, I started making them five years ago when I went home to St. Louis for Thanksgiving. I told my mama I was making the greens. She said “boy if you f*ck these greens up, I’m f*cking you up.” So, I made the greens and two things happened… My mom asked for the recipe and my dad asked for a divorce.
Torry promises he’ll be the one to give it up to us with a show that will have something for everybody. Tickets are on sale now at the Improv box office or by calling 216.696.IMPROV (4277).