You might best remember him as the guy who lost to a pack of dogs, the Olate Dogs, on Season 7 of “America’s Got Talent.” But the appearances and becoming the first comedian to make it to the finals on the reality talent show gave Tom Cotter just the exposure he needed to move on big time with his career. The Providence, Rhode Island native who now lives in New York is bringing his rapid fire humor, not once but twice, Friday to Bridge Street Live in Collinsville. He will be performing two shows with his special guests, his wife and comedienne Kerri Louise and Will Thomas. He promised there will not be a dog to be found at the show as he “Spilled the Beans” with Java.
Q: Okay, tell me a joke!
A: Two peanuts were walking down the street, one was assaulted. (get it..assaulted…a salted !)
Q: How would you describe the kind of comedy you perform?
A: I describe it as pathetic and a cry for help but most people describe it as rapid fire misdirection. My claim to fame is I can cram two hours worth of material into a one hour show. I provide a lot of left turns and throw some curveballs when I do my act.
Q: Bridge Street Live is a great venue here in Connecticut. What do you know about it?
A: I have played there before and the challenge is I am not the tallest guy in the world. I make cookies in a hollow tree. Lighting is always a problem for me wherever I play because I am so short. But I am comfortable at Bridge Street because the stage is great and the lighting good. Low ceilings hold that laughter in and a lot of room for seating and that makes the laughing contagious and infectious. I love that place and who knew, Collinsville.
Q: When did you know that comedy was the path you wanted to pursue, I mean I know you dabbled for a while in some hard duty as a cop on Nantucket and your dad was a very well neurosurgeon. Seems like comedy was an interesting choice, no?
A: I thought I wanted to be a lawyer but loved comedy and thought I would take some time off to get it out of my system and just never looked back. I was making a living at it but after being on AGT, it took off way beyond where I thought it could go. I felt like I stepped in unicorn poop. I have a great wife, three healthy kids and am pleased where I am, although the friends of mine who became lawyers now have the BMWs and big houses. Would I like to be tapped to host “The Tonight Show,” yes but am good where I am.
Q: I understand you were very strategic when it came to auditioning for AGT. Explain.
A: I had been on a reality show with my wife and we ended up being eliminated. The judges were mean and the whole thing left a bad taste in my mouth and I decided reality tv wasn’t for me. AGT came along and said my act was perfect and it would be easier because on the other show I had to do a two minute routine and on AGT it was only 90 seconds. And that behooves a guy like me who is a rapid fire one –liner guy. But I kept watching Piers Morgan and noticed he hated comics and would not advance any of them. But then Howard Stern replaced him and I figured that if I was going to do it, it was the time. Of course the dogs ended up with the million dollars, and honestly, I worked with them for four months after the show on a tour we all do and they did the least amount of work.
Q: You know, we have a Connecticut comic on the show, Darik Santos. (note: Santos was eventually voted off the show)
A: Don’t tell me anything. I had to Tivo the show because I was working in the Bahamas doing a show for a pharmaceutical conference and don’t want to know who gets eliminated before I watch it!
Q: Anyway, do you have any favorites on the show this season?
A: With no disrespect to Mr. Santos, I do know two comics in the competition, Joe Matarese and Wendy Liebman. I think Wendy will move on. She is so polished and funny.
Q: I would imagine husband and wife comics married to each other makes for a pretty happy household with no arguments and a lot of jokes. Does that all provide fuel for your routine?
A: We get approached a lot to perform together because there are not many comedy couples who are willing to work together. We do Burns and Allen, Lucy and Desi bits. But we are like any married couple. We have arguments, we fight a lot about the little things but there is lots of levity and the biggest laughs come from the kids. They are funnier than any comedian I’ve ever seen.
Q: It is intriguing to me that given what seems to be a “no bounds” attitude when it comes to language and topics in comedy routines, yours is very “PG” rated and you are very successful with that tac. What’s the secret?
A: There are venues I have not worked with because they think my material is not “edgy” enough, not “blue” or “dirty.” When I started out my routine was much dirtier but that really limits you. I do a lot of college comedy and corporate work. They pay well and even at colleges, the bastions of free speech, they are still kids. I don’t want people offended by what I am saying but I do want them to leave the show with their sides hurting because they laughed so hard. I do dance around adult topics and use the double entendre but that’s it. I was once advised that ‘the cleaner you work the more work you will have.’ It’s true.
Q: Is laughter the best medicine?
A: I have always said it is and that I am available without a prescription. Of course if a woman were in the throes of labor and you held out my CD in one hand the epidural needle in the other, she would probably choose the epidural. My dad is a doctor and he agrees, laughing releases endorphins and that makes you feel better and tightens your abs at the same time. If you put stand-up comedy in hospitals, people would be healthy.
Q: What’s next for you?
A: I shot a tv pilot, a children’s show that is on life support right now. It’s about pranks and practical jokes, kind of a cross between “America’s Funniest Home Videos” and Art Linkletter’s “Kids Say The Darndest Things.” We’ll see.
Tom Cotter will perform at 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. Tickets start at $25. Information: 860-693-9762 or 41bridgestreet.com