On Long Island, comedian Bob Marley is best known for his role as Detective Greenly in the cult classic film The Boondock Saints, but in his native New England his notoriety comes from his standup comedy career.
He is a longtime regular at clubs and performance halls all over Massachusetts, Maine and New Hampshire, and has appeared many times in New York City, including on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and The Late Show with David Letterman, but this Monday, August 11, at Bay Street Theater in Sag Harbor will mark his Hamptons debut.
“My image of the Hamptons is there is just people in Porsche convertibles walking around asking about dinner a lot,” Marley says in a recent phone interview. He admits that he doesn’t know much about the area, other than that celebrities like to come here. He pictures “the Hamptons with like a big giant house and a lady in a big hat while Billy Joel plays piano and Jerry Seinfeld yucks it up.”
Marley was calling from Poland, Maine, where his family has a lake house down the street from the spring of bottled water fame. He grew up in Maine, where he began his standup career in bars. He moved to Boston for two and a half years to pursue comedy, when standup was taking off in that city, then spent 11 years in Los Angeles.
Though living on the West Coast gave him many opportunities, including frequent appearances on late night talk shows, he wanted to raise his children back east.
“I want my kids to have what I had, which is horrible weather and no money,” Marley jests.
He grew up Irish Catholic and pretty much dirt poor, he says. His background made him the perfect fit for The Boondock Saints, about Irish twin brothers in Boston who become vigilantes. On a mutual friend’s recommendation, screenwriter/director Troy Duffy came to see Marley perform at The Laugh Factory in Hollywood. After watching Marley’s set, Duffy told him, “You’re the guy.” Marley was cast as one of the detectives who try to apprehend the MacManus brothers while simultaneously admiring their war on crime.
Both the 1999 film and its 2009 sequel were great experiences, Marley says. “All my scenes in the first movie were with Willem Dafoe, who is such a cool guy and really, really nice.” In fact, when Marley’s parents came to Toronto unannounced and crashed the set of the first film, Dafoe not only agreed to autograph a stack of videos, he came out to dinner with the Marley family. “I thought, oh my God, I’m gonna get fired,” Marley says, but Dafoe was amenable to everything.
He’d like to do more movies, but doesn’t make a point of auditioning because being in a film means being away from his family and home for months.
Marley now lives near Portland, Maine. The town gets many visitors from Massachusetts and New York, which many locals like to complain about, but he doesn’t mind. “Otherwise, who would we sell a $42 jug of maple syrup to that takes $8 to produce?” he asks, blowing the lid off a secret to Maine’s economic success. “It’s the same thing with lobsters.” He and other locals get their lobsters right off the dock, and aren’t subject to the prices visitors pay.
Though residing in Los Angeles got him many gigs by the nature of proximity, Marley says the living is better in Maine. “We ski all winter and go to the lake and the beach all summer, and that’s stuff you can’t get in L.A.”
It was in Portland in 2010 that he set the then-record for longest uninterrupted standup comedy routine at 40 hours, going for 17 hours before repeating any jokes.
Marley is constantly working on and changing his material, he says, and his current set is about how awful this past winter was in the Northeast. He recalls one frosty day when his wife called to say she was in the driveway and couldn’t get out of her car. The doors were frozen shut, and she didn’t understand how it had happened. He pointed out that it probably had to do with her stop at the car wash on the way home.
“It’s completely relatable and it’s really non-offensive,” Marley says of his comedy. “I’m goofy and likable and I don’t go after the audience. I mostly make fun of myself and my family. I just want people to have a good time.”
Bob Marley performs Monday, August 11, at 8 p.m. at Bay Street Theater, 1 Bay Street, Sag Harbor, as part of the Comedy Club series. Tickets are $69.50. Call 631-725-9500 or visit baystreet.org.