Comedian Robert Kelly proves you can go home again as he prepares to take the stage at Comics Come Home on Nov. 3. The Massachusetts native, who co-founded the RiotCast podcast network, makes his fifth appearance at the charity event organized by Denis Leary and Cam Neely in support of the Cam Neely Foundation for Cancer Care. We caught up with Kelly before his performance at TD Garden to discuss family feuds and the changing city.
What‚Äôs it like coming back to your hometown to perform? Well, my family still lives here so I come home a lot ‚Äôcause, you know, my mother makes me. It‚Äôs a little shocking how much things have changed. South Boston isn‚Äôt dangerous. You won‚Äôt get killed walking around Charlestown anymore‚ÄĒthat part is weird. But as far as performing here, it‚Äôs the best. There‚Äôs nowhere like it in the world. Boston comedy and comics are literally known worldwide as the best, so I‚Äôm really proud of that.
You grew up in a household of 13. How did that influence your comedy? When you‚Äôre in a big family, you have to be funny. You just have to. Someone‚Äôs always getting messed with, someone‚Äôs always getting made fun of or teased. You laugh all the time. I mean, my mother was the oldest and she would fuck with my uncles so bad. [Laughs.] Growing up, my family was just a very funny, typical Irish-Catholic family.
How does it feel to keep being asked to perform at Comics Come Home? The Cam Neely Foundation is just incredible. When they ask you to do it, at first you‚Äôre like, ‚ÄúYeah! Of course I‚Äôll work with Denis Leary at a big show!‚ÄĚ Then you find out what you‚Äôre involved in and what you‚Äôre actually doing. You‚Äôre donating your comedy, and it‚Äôs pretty epic to be a part of that. It‚Äôs the longest-running comedy fundraiser in existence. It‚Äôs ridiculous and it gets bigger and bigger every year. Not to sound cheesy, but I feel really proud to have been asked to come back so many times.
What‚Äôs your best piece of advice for up-and-coming comedians? The only advice one comic should give to another is to just get onstage. When I was coming up, everyone was like, ‚Äúyou should do this‚ÄĚ or ‚Äúyou should do that.‚ÄĚ I kept getting told I needed clean material. I‚Äôm an asshole from Medford that was stuck in juvie when I was 13. I was not a clean guy. I‚Äôm a good person, but I‚Äôm still messed up. The way I think of stuff is a little twisted, and everyone‚Äôs telling me to be clean and I‚Äôm like, ‚ÄúWell, I can‚Äôt be, because that‚Äôs not my life,‚ÄĚ and Joe Rogan said to me, ‚ÄúJust get onstage, man. Don‚Äôt listen to anybody cause if you do, it‚Äôs going to take you longer to become yourself.‚ÄĚ But if you just get onstage, you‚Äôll find your voice. It takes a long time, but you‚Äôll do it and you‚Äôll be you. Just get onstage, tell jokes and suck until you‚Äôre good.