The Guy Torry comedy show
By JOHN BENSON
If you go
Who: Guy Torry
When: 10 p.m. Friday; and 7 and 10 p.m. Saturday
Where: The Cellar, 162 S. Bridge St., Struthers.
Tickets: $20; call (330) 750-0199.
A comedian at heart, Guy Torry is never one to back down from a challenge.
It was just over a decade ago when the then-rising stand-up comedian was approached by Hollywood producers to appear in not a comedy but a serious drama about race relations in America. That movie was “American History X.”
“The funny thing is when I did the movie, I didn’t know who Ed Norton was,” said Torry, calling from outside Los Angeles.
“I thought he was just another bald-headed white dude. I hadn’t seen ‘Primal Fear.’ It’s so crazy how [‘American History X’] came about. I wasn’t the original choice for that role. The producer and director came to a show that I happened to be on, and because of my jokes — my satire about how stupid racism is on both sides, white hating black or black hating white — they thought that material and myself would be a better fit. They actually came out to see Tommy Davidson for that role.”
He added, “At that time, I had no idea it would be that powerful of a film. That catapulted me to Hollywood like, ‘OK, he’s a real actor.’”
From there, Torry would have roles in feature films “Introducing Dorothy Dandridge,” “Don’t Say a Word,” “Pearl Harbor,” “Runaway Jury” and more. However, stand-up remains his true love, which brings us to his challenge.
Though the 41-year-old is known for his love of the F-bomb and other expletives to get his comedic point across, it’s the notion of appearing on reality show “Last Comic Standing” that has the funnyman going Bill Cosby. The decision to go clean isn’t based so much on morals as it is in dollars and sense.
“I received an invitation to try out for ‘Last Comic Standing,’” Torry said. “It’s funny because at this stage in my career, people ask, ‘Why am I doing it?’ Well, I’m doing it because I need to raise my profile. I’m typically a blue nightclub act in a way, and this will help me clean it up a bit. I think it’s a challenge. I want to see who I am and where I stand in the comedy game. It’s stiff competition, but I feel like what I’ve been doing for the past 17 years is ready for the next level. I know I can clean it up. I do corporate gigs and church gigs sometimes. And also, I’ve done Jimmy Kimmel and things like that where you work clean.”
In fact, it was a corporate gig that brought Torry to Northeast Ohio last year. Now the comedian is scheduled to return to the Youngstown area with shows Friday and Saturday at The Cellar. So which Torry — the dirty or the clean — will be on stage?
“It’ll be half and half,” Torry said. “The jokes I end up doing on the [reality] show are the ones I’ll end up working clean. And the ones I know won’t fit that format, those will be the jokes from my usual act. I’ll be talking about relationships, economy, my divorce and what’s going on locally in the Youngstown area. I love getting into local politics and the goings-on in a small town to kind of stir things up a little bit. Every city I go to, one to two weeks out, I’ll go online and dig in and try to make it relevant, try to make sense and add to my comedy repertoire.
“So my style is the unexpected. I push the envelope. I always say my comedy style is a pile of gumbo. It’s blue, political, personal satire, observational, relationship. All of that rolled into one. No one will leave my show unsatisfied, I guarantee it. It’s the best damn comedy show, period.”