Bentley: Comedian lives Zany radio life

The Fresno BeeNovember 12, 2013 

Fans of the Bob & Tom syndicated radio program — heard mornings on 95.7 The Fox (KJFX, FM) — will know the name Bob Zany. How can you hear a name like Zany and not remember it?

This Friday, you can put a face to the name as Zany (whose real name is Robert Tetreault) joins David Dyer, Henry Phillips and Auggie Smith for a Bob & Tom Comedy Tour stop at the Tower Theatre.

Zany's trip to Fresno is one of the 49 weekends a year he is on the road. I caught up with him for a quick phone interview as he was leaving Grand Forks, N.D., to go to Indianapolis then Los Angeles and finally to Fresno.

The Bob & Tom show has become known for the comedians who appear on the show, but few are as connected to the program as Zany. In the 16-plus years that he has been a guest on the radio program, Zany has gone from an occasional visit to being a weekly guest to offer his "Zany Report."

Zany estimates that he has done more than 50,000 radio appearances, a huge chunk of that number trading jabs with the show hosts, Bob Kevoian and Tom Griswold.

Zany is confident enough in his comedy to allow radio listeners the opportunity to fix one of his jokes. All you have to do is go to his website — BobZany.com — and pick a joke that you think you can make funnier. One of the comedy fixers will appear with Zany on the Bob & Tom show.

The "Fix The Joke" segment started because of Bob & Tom.

"Tom is brilliant. He really knows radio. One day I did a joke that didn't work so well and Tom said I should allow the listeners a chance to fix it," Zany says. "It doesn't bother me that some of my jokes don't work as well on radio as they do at my live show. I'm from the Johnny Carson school of comedy where it's sometimes funnier getting out of a failed joke."

Zany has been doing comedy since Carson was the host of "The Tonight Show." Two years before he graduated from West Covina High School, Zany appeared as a contestant on "The Gong Show." He got pulled off the stage by a nun with a big net, but he still earned $125 for his appearance. That's when Zany knew he wanted to make a living telling jokes.

Stand-up has been his main passion, but Zany has been an on-air personality at Los Angeles radio station KLOS (95.5, FM), worked in movies such as "The Informant" and his current release, "23 Minutes to Sunrise," hosted comedy podcasts and appeared on comedy specials including an upcoming Showtime production. His lengthy career in radio has been recounted in the documentary, "Close But No Cigar: Bob Zany."

The bulk of his work has him on the road. Those who have seen his stand-up work always make an odd observation.

"They always tell me that I am funnier live. I would hope so. Why would a person pay for something if it wasn't better than what they hear on the radio for free?" Zany asks.

ABC's "Make Me a Star" relaunches

The second ABC "Make Me a Star" has launched and you have until Nov. 29 to be part of the program that is designed to help launch careers.

This time, the competition is open to adults and minors.

The minor winner will get a six-month $10,000 talent holding deal with ABC; the adult winner gets a one-year $25,000 deal.

Winners in both categories will be announced Jan. 31.

You can find more information and submit auditions at abcmakemeastar.com or by going to the ABC Casting Facebook page (facebook.com/abcegcasting).

Here's the Address

Documentary filmmaker Ken Burns has launched a national public outreach campaign in advance of the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address — Nov. 19, 2013 — to challenge everyone across the country, especially students, to learn about and read aloud the Gettysburg Address.

The initiative will run through April 15, when Burns' "The Address," a 90-minute documentary, will air on Valley Public Television (KVPT, Channel 18.1).

The campaign will use social media and videos from public figures, political leaders, entertainers and Lincoln historians reading the Gettysburg Address to encourage people to submit their own videos to www.learntheaddress.org.

So don't wait four score and seven days before going to the website to be a part of this historical event.

 

TV and movie critic Rick Bentley can be reached at (559) 441-6355, rbentley@fresnobee.com or @RickBentley1 on Twitter. Read his blog at fresnobeehive.com.

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