Brownstein: Nasty Show’s Robert Kelly Is Part Dirty, Part Family Guy

Kelly is probably one of the only Just for Laughs comedians who could do both the Nasty Show and the benign Date Night, like she did in 2013.


There’s hardly a sentence from Robert Kelly’s Nasty Show act that can be repeated in a familiar publication, or even in some more risque media outlets. However, while the show’s closer is a source of filth onstage, the standup is anything but offstage.

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The man is an enigma. A fun one, too. With a shaven crown and her stocky body, Kelly can come across as menacing and possibly the last person you’d want to run into on a deserted street. But he’s probably one of the only Just for Laughs comedians who could do both the Nasty Show and the benign Date Night, like he did in 2013.

“It’s the raw stuff that I talk about on the Nasty Show because that’s what got to me in my early years, but I have other jokes that are less edgy,” says Kelly, after a Nasty set on MTelus this week.

Kelly is, dare we say, as decent as anyone you’ll find in her line of work, dirty or clean. She would much rather talk about her wife and her young child or her family retreat in a cabin in the New Hampshire woods. She is also comfortable talking about the demons she had to fight as a teenager at home and on the hectic streets of Boston where she grew up.

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Five years ago, when in town for the Nasty Show, Kelly made this statement: “I’m happier than I’ve ever been in my life.”

Kelly, 51, would like to make amends for that now: “Believe it or not, this is the happiest I’ve ever been in my life.”

Wow, what’s the matter here, Mr. Mellow?

“The pandemic was both a curse and a blessing at the same time,” he explains. “It really made me accept the fact that I wasn’t that essential. Suddenly, 50 programs were removed. I wondered what he was going to do. I am not a millionaire. I have to work to support my family.

“But what the pandemic did was allow me to really clean house and get back to basics. But I spent time with my family and myself. It made me realize how lucky I was. I have a wife, a child, friends, a house. I may not be able to buy a mansion, but I can buy a little house in the woods. I pay my bills with jokes. I have everything I could have ever wanted. I did it.

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“And to be back now, doing shows and being with friends… I’m so thankful. The fear, the anxiety is gone. I’m focusing on enjoying the moment, because you never know when it’s going to go.”

Bliss didn’t seem to be on Kelly’s cards growing up. He talks about having a serious alcohol and drug habit when he was 15, which he attributes to being bullied by family members. But he is proud to report that he has been clean and sober for 35 years. Dealing with bipolar issues in therapy helped pave the way for him.

“Yes, I am sober, but the unpleasant thing about addiction is that it will manifest itself in other ways,” he says. “With some people, it could be the game or the sex. With me, he moved on to food. I joke about that in my act. But this year I had to do something about it, because it was killing me. He wasn’t going to be here as long as he should have. My body was like dying. I’ve actually lost about 35 pounds…and now I can clean the left side of my butt,” he jokes. “That is progress. The right side, soon.

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“I go back to doing things with my son. We went to Busch Gardens, which is all rides, and my biggest fear while standing in line for the roller coaster is that the closing bar won’t click and we’ll have to take the ride of shame again. of the line. But luckily I got a click.”

Kelly still clicks with one of her oldest friends, Bill Burr, who will be at the Bell Center on July 30 for JFL and who she hopes to hang out with briefly while she’s here.

“I love the way Bill is killing it now,” says Kelly. “He called me the other day and said, ‘Do you want to do a concert with me in Queens in August?’ I asked him what kind of concert it was in Queens. A little club or something? No. On his tour at Forest Hills Stadium!

“I told him that it was an honor, but that I would spend time with my family. And Bill says, ‘Absolutely, that’s much more important.’ That’s why I love the boy.”


Robert Kelly is the closer on Just for Laughs’ Nasty Show, running through July 28 at MTelus, 59 Ste-Catherine St. E. Hosted by Big Jay Oakerson; Josh Adam Meyers, Liza Treyger, Sophie Buddle and Yamaneika Saunders also appear. Tickets:

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