Humor has imbued just about everything Kerry McNally’s done in his professional life – from his DJ work on the Far East Network (as a U.S. Marine, he hosted a show called Good Morning Okinawa!) to his network TV appearances, his career backstage – and onstage – in standup comedy and his current gig as a coast-to-coast “Guest Host” on the Home Shopping Network.
“There isn’t much I haven’t done,” he explains, “as far as show business and/or broadcasting is concerned.”
McNally is the brains behind Wednesday’s night of comedy at the Floridian Social Club. There are six headliners on The Holiday Comedy Show, and he’ll do the emcee work – introducing the comics and keeping the laughter percolating between acts.
“I love hosting, and being a cheerleader for other comedians,” he says. “I’m a huge fan of the art. And I can really whip a crowd into a frenzy.”
Nationally-known Al Romas, Jeff Klein and Rahn Hortman are the above-the-title comics for Wednesday’s performance. The others are Jon Turkel (Tampa), Kye Saunders (St. Augustine) and Victoria Yepes Taylor (formerly of Tampa).
In the bay area, “We have a really deep bench of really bright and talented young comedians,” McNally believes, “and others who have been at it for a long time, but live here now. Breweries are doing it! Restaurants! People are doing it in their back yards!”
McNally is eight years into his second term as HSN air talent and segment producer. “It’s cool to have this opportunity to take products to HSN, present them, shoot B-roll, write a script, get everything together that you need to, to hopefully make it successful,” he explains. “And then if it’s successful, it’s a win for them – and it’s a win for my family.
“And HSN will sometimes call me and say ‘Hey, we have a new vendor, they saw some tape of yours and they would like you to be the national brand representative for their new product.’ Which is really exciting. You partner with entrepreneurs.
“It’s analogous in some respect to Shark Tank, where you’re teaming up with people who have invested their life savings in a product, and now they’re relying on you to help sell it on TV.”
His raucous sense of humor has served McNally well on HSN. During his initial, 10-year tenure with the network, he explains, “I’d take a 72-inch strand of pearls and start swinging it around like I was on Yellowstone. Like I was a cowboy. And the phones would light up. And we’d sell all the pearls.”
He missed his native New York, and left Florida for a while to pursue other interests.
McNally’s resume includes stints on the Discovery Channel (The Rocket Challenge), NBC (Shop and Style), voiceover work for radio, TV and films, and a lengthy tenure as the “funny features guy” at the CBS network’s flagship station in Minneapolis.
He was director of sales and marketing at the legendary Manhattan club The Comic Strip. “Everyone who wanted to go on Letterman wanted to go to the Comic Strip, and have me host, to try out their five minutes. Because they knew that I would get the audience going.”
These days, his central focus is on his boutique video production company, St. Pete Films. He develops and produces corporate films, and video for high-end real estate.
He’s written a feature film, a romantic comedy, called St. Pete, that he speculates will start production in the spring.
The Holiday Comedy Show is his second standup extravaganza at the Floridian Social Club; the first one, on an otherwise not funny Tuesday in October, sold out.
Will Wednesday nights prove to be the sweet spot for comedy? “I’ve always used the Jackson Pollack approach, which is: Just do everything you possibly can to make it successful,” McNally laughs.
“We would love to do it on a regular basis. We’re just trying to find the right day, and the right time. We’re figuring it out. But I’m grateful and thankful that the standup community is being received so well by everybody here in town.
“And if ever we’ve needed to laugh – probably in the history of mankind – this is the time.”
The Holiday Comedy Show (Wednesday, Dec. 29) info and tickets here.