A one-on-one interview with Bobby Collins is like going to a personal comedy show. The stand-up comedian, who performs upward of 200 shows each year, will make a pit stop at Riverhead’s Suffolk Theater on December 13.
Born in New York but a resident of Santa Monica for the past 25 years, Collins is thankful to return to Long Island, as the rest of the world is full of morons, he says. “I like Long Island,” he continues. “[Long Islanders] wear their hearts on their sleeves, and they look in people instead of at them.” He often references geographical stereotypes in his comedy—how people who grow up in various states are different from each other—because he finds them to be true. “People like to know about what’s going on in different parts [of the U.S.],” he says.
Active in comedy since the 1980s, Collins has become known for his stand-up routines. “People say to me, ‘Bobby, you never disappoint. Every year you come back with new material,’” he notes. Collins draws his routines from current events, tailoring each show to the area in which he’s performing. The goal of his comedy is “to educate, to entertain. You can change the way people look at things by making them laugh,” he says. “It’s not Republican or Democrat, it’s what’s right.”
This will not be Collins’ first time on the East End, as he used to perform during the summer at the Southampton Inn. More recently, he’s taken the stage at Sag Harbor’s Bay Street Theater as a part of the summer Comedy Club. Collins returns to New York often. He spent Thanksgiving weekend in the city, where he and his wife and three kids, now college-age, took in quintessential New York activities like eating at family style Italian restaurant Carmine’s, and seeing the Broadway productions of Kinky Boots and Motown.
Collins seemed destined for a career in comedy, as he was named after his father’s favorite comedian, Bob Hope. But Collins wasn’t always on the stand-up route. He first worked in fashion, and he made his way up to become the Vice President of Calvin Klein. He left the position to pursue comedy and soon found himself working alongside such legends as Jerry Seinfeld and Jay Leno. As his stand-up routines became more popular, he performed in non-traditional venues, opening for musical legends Cher and Frank Sinatra, and landing a gig at the White House 18 years ago. The White House routine earned him an international tour entertaining U.S. embassies abroad. Collins has since been to 75 countries, and lists China, Bangladesh and the Philippines among the cooler venues. Collins arrives in each country a day or two before the gig, giving him time to soak up the local culture to use in his routines. In the Philippines, he found irony in one headline that detailed the use of rescues dogs. “I read in the paper that they use rescue dogs [to find people during natural disasters], but the dogs must be thinking, ‘chances are, if we find these people, they’re going to eat us!’”
Though Collins now resides in California, he loves New York and often uses the differences between his two homes as fodder for his comedy. “Here, it’s a quicker pace. Like, the red light is just a suggestion… [In Santa Monica,] the biggest thing I’m afraid of is when I’m walking the dogs, they’re taking a dump and people go, ‘excuse me, are you going to clean that up?’ [But in New York], rats wear leather jackets.”
The Suffolk Theater audience, however, may have more to live up to than a California audience. Think before you laugh.
“People in New York, on Long Island, have more [intelligence] in their fingernail than anyone else does [in their whole bodies],” deadpans Collins.
Bobby Collins performs at Suffolk Theater, 118 East Main Street, Riverhead at 8 p.m. Doors, bar and restaurant open at 6:30. Tickets are $49. For more information, visit suffolktheater.com or call 631-727-4343.