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Comedian Jimmy Shubert headed to the Palladium

Bill DeYoung



"I’m not going to mess with the universe," declares comedian Jimmy Shubert. "My purpose is being able to make people laugh, and I’m just very lucky to be able to do that.” Publicity photo.

Standup comedian Jimmy Shubert has a mantra, and it’s held him in good stead: “I say this all the time: I want to make an excellent living, in an excellent way; working with excellent people, for excellent pay.”

As an actor, Shubert has appeared in movies with the likes of Danny Trejo, Charlize Theron, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. He played one of Kevin James’ work buddies in 10 episodes of The King of Queens.

Excellent work with excellent people.

“Then you go back on the road, and you’re telling dick jokes to a bunch of strangers in a nightclub,” Shubert laughs. “It’s good work if you can get it. I’m a grateful human being. I’m very happy to be able to do it.”

Performing an intimate show July 19 at the Palladium Theater’s Side Door Cabaret, Shubert is an observational “rant” comic: He’ll get on a subject, from supermarket self-checkouts to emotional support animals, and chew it over until he literally rips it a new one. He’s Lewis Black without the politics.

A Last Comic Standing finalist, Shubert honed his stage persona over decades on the road, including five years opening shows for his longtime pal Sam Kinison, himself an iconic rant comic.

“It’s a carefully-crafted rant,” Shubert explains, “so it means that almost every line in the rant is a punchline: Ba-ba-bing! Ba-ba-bing! It has a rhythm to it. Once you get the audience laughing, you keep ‘em going. And that’s the stuff I grew up watching. You can see that in my style of comedy, for sure.

“Standup comedy is a uniquely American art form, like jazz music. I guess you could make the case that it’s the second oldest profession in the world: Make me laugh! The court jester had a tough gig: Off with his head!

Standup, he insists, is a finely-honed craft that requires a particular skill set. “It’s all about the writing. For me, it’s writing. There’s guys who are great writers and not great performers. And guys who are great performers but not great writers.

“But then you have the rare triple threat – a guy who can write, and perform, and who does other stuff as well: Chris Porter plays the guitar, Steve Martin plays the banjo, Bill Burr plays the drums – creative people are creative people. I do close-up magic on a high level. It’s just another way to be creative.”

That’s right, Shubert is not only a comic and an actor, he’s a magician. After his shows, he’s been known to head to the nearest bar and thrill and amaze people with a half-hour’s worth of jaw-dropping card tricks.

It’s how he passes the time in his hotel room, he says, during long road trips.

Magic was Jimmy Shubert’s first love. He caught the prestidigitation bug as a kid. “When I was 9, I got my first magic kit,” he explains. “I was actually an accomplished professional magician when I was 15 – I had doves, I had an assistant, I was doing shows, like six gigs a month.”

As a student at the Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts (CAPA), he learned how to act. “I had three drama classes a day, I had Scene Study and Character Building … it was always in the plans to become an accomplished actor and do movies and TV, and Comedy Central specials and everything.

“And it seems to be going according to schedule. I’m not going to mess with the universe – my purpose is being able to make people laugh, and I’m just very lucky to be able to do that.”

His fourth album Zero Tolerance was No. 1 on the iTunes chart in 2019.

“It’s just amazing to me that I’ve been able to do this – performing – for 40 years,” Shubert says. “It’s a tough way to make a living, but it happens to be very rewarding if you put the work in and you establish yourself.

“Standup’s one of those things that you have to do it, and do it, and do it, and people think there’s a short cut. There ain’t no short cut! You can’t fool all of the people all of the time.

“I know a lot of guys who get an acting career going, and they stop doing standup. And I never wanted to do that. I always wanted to do a little bit of everything.”

Tickets for Jimmy Shubert’s July 19 performance are here.



























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