Jimmy Shubert isn’t laughing!
Jimmy — a favorite to win NBC’s LAST COMIC STANDING — has been receiving a string of threatening and hateful messages through his personal website since he first appeared on the NBC reality series last month.
“Some hammerhead is sending me four or five messages a day and all of them are hate-filled,” he tells me.
“[They say] ‘You are a fat hack.’ ‘You are a has-been.’ ‘You haven’t written any new material…’ Just threatening shit. It is paramount to cyber-bullying.”
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The Philadelphia native, who once worked as a doorman at The Comedy Store in Hollywood, says he believes the messages are all coming from the same place.
He posted a warning on JimmyShubert.com a few weeks back threatening to turn over any inappropriate communications to the NBC legal department.
[The message has since been removed.] I just put that [notice] out there as a precautionary measure to hopefully get them to stop.
“I have got enough pressure trying to compete in this competition,” he says. “I would consider myself to be a positive guy. I help other comedians. I take them on the road. I know how tough this gig is. And to have somebody out there with email after email, six or seven a day. I just get tired of it. I get it. You don’t like me.”
But the judges do. Some viewers even consider Jimmy a contender to win it all.
He told me what being crowned LAST COMIC STANDING would mean to his career when we caught up last week before a gig in southwest Florida.
You have been doing this for a long time. You have a ton of credits. Is the show downplaying your success a bit and making you seem a little more in need of a win?
A reporter once said to me, “Isn’t having you on LAST COMIC STANDING like having Bruce Springsteen on AMERICAN IDOL?” But if you are doing a comedy competition, don’t you want the best people available? To be honest with you, they had about 5000 submissions for the show. I submitted and they chose me. They could have gone a different way.
On that [premiere] episode, I went up 26th out of 26 comedians. Dead last at a 6 hour taping. They didn’t edit it like that, of course. But they didn’t make it easy for me, either. Sure, I have been doing it for a while, but at the same time, I could use a little exposure. I did a couple of guest spots on KING OF QUEENS and I had a couple of supporting films here and there, but I would like to be a little bit further along in my career.
What is the biggest challenge about appearing on LCS?
I haven’t done a lot of late night television. I usually work in casinos and (nightclubs) where there isn’t a lot of restriction on the language. So the challenge was “could I come up with clean sets week after week after week?” That was outside my comfort zone and I thought, “Yeah, I think I would like to try this.” That was the biggest challenge of it. I am not going to lie to you. I worked my tail off on these sets. I did these sets at least 20 times before the taping.
You have been so close to getting your big break for so many years. What is it like to be that close?
It is a little frustrating. I am not going to lie. But I know a lot of guys like me that are at that level. My neighbor used to be a kid named Billy Gardell who is now Mike on MIKE AND MOLLY. Billy was one of those guys and then he got a break and got on that show. I have seen it happen. But you just have to keep on doing what you are doing. It is a marathon, not a sprint. I think lots of times you have to question, “What can I be doing better?”
What would it mean for your career to win?
It would be great. No question about it. I don’t know if “deserve” is the right word, but I certainly worked for it.
Had you every tried out for this show in the past?
Yeah, to tell you the truth. Me and Rocky Laporte had tried out for it [in season 2]. We didn’t even make it on. We got beat by a stripper! So I did have a little trepidation about putting myself back in that position.
I love that you have this great story of coming out of the Comedy Store and you have Pauley Shore there to support you…
[The show] wanted to get his mom, but she is older now. Mitzi is the one who passed me. But she is not doing so well. And I know Pauley. I drove him to his first stand up comedy gig.
Between the time you stopped working at the Comedy Store and when you were able to support yourself as a professional comedian, did you have to work other jobs?
Yeah. I worked in the mail room of a law firm. I did that for a number of years. And eventually Sam Kinison let me tour with him as an opening act. I did that for about 5 years. Then Sam died in ’92. I met a girl who lived in Florida so I took a job as a house emcee at a club in Florida and worked there for two or three years. I got a development deal and went back to Los Angeles…
What is your goal now? Is it to be like Billy Gardell and get a sitcom?
I would love to be like a Richard Belzer. I would love to be the comic relief in a cop drama. I would love to be the third banana who cracks wise in the squad room. Or I would love to have my own sitcom — if it was the right vehicle. I love Denis Leary’s career. Television is the end game. Any time you get yourself in that little black box it is always a good thing.
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