Law and the military spurred Savitt into comedy
April 30, 2014
Award-wininng stand-up comic Tommy Savitt got into the comedy world through law and the military
In the early 1990s, Savitt, who will perform at the Egyptian Theatre on May 2 and May 3, was a law student who had a goal of becoming a judge advocate general for the Marines.
"I had to go to basic training, boot camp for my summers and I would make the drill instructors laugh during the training," Savitt said during a phone call to The Park Record from his home in Los Angles, Calif. "It got to the point where other recruits would volunteer to be punished with me for my comedy, because it was worth it to do pushups while sneaking in another laugh from ‘what Savitt would say.’"
Things changed when the government consolidated the split program he was enrolled in.
"Since that conflicted with my law school, I was able to make a clean break with a week left before graduation," Savitt said. "My drill instructor told me that one unfortunate woman was going to marry me and during the next great war when we were watching TV, I would tell my son that I could have been a Marine. He told me that I was a failure and told me not to become a lawyer, but to become a comedian."
So in 1994, Savitt followed orders and started performing stand-up in New York City during the second year of law school.
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Throughout the past decade, the comedian has presented his material in different manifestations..
"I am constantly doing that because the material gets stale and I get bored," Savitt said. "My current character is a healer, Tommy Lama."
The idea came from a bit in his previous act where he hinted at the whole self-help concept.
"I just took it to the fullest extent to see what would happen and it has metamorphosed into something quite different and quite absurd and farcical," Savitt said. "I come on stage wearing a big quartz crystal around my neck, a dashiki, linen pants and sandals."
Savitt used to wear a Nehru suit, but found it too constricting and looked too stern.
"I wanted to get across that soft flow so I changed costumes," he said. "So now you basically have this guy from Brooklyn, giving New Age advice."
Savitt has one rule of thumb for his material and that’s to never pull back.
"I can never generalize who will take something personal, when it’s not intended to be mean," he said. "In my previous routine, I had a joke where I said I was against the seat belt laws, even though they say it saves lives.
"The joke went if you’re driving a Ford Focus, is your life really worth living, because no one wants to be found in that," Savitt explained. "So if you’re flung far from that car, you have the chance to get hit by something nicer."
After delivering that joke during a college show a few years ago, he had some people walk out crying, because their friend recently died in a car crash.
"It showed me that you can say innocuous and never know what emotions you will stir up," he said. "People bring their own angst into the show, so you never know. And that’s why I don’t pull back."
From colleges, to concert halls, Savitt has performed for an array of audiences and has make the armed forces laugh in the United States and abroad.
"Because of my participation in boot camp, I’ve always had a soft spot and fondness for the military, and I still do," Savitt said. "It’s my favorite type of performances to do, especially in places where I think they need it the most."
One such place was in Afghanistan, because the audience, he said, is so appreciative and so receptive.
"I find comedians make a difference in the morale over there," Savitt said. "Sure, it’s a temporary lift, but, hey, it’s about being in the moment, you know. It gives them a temporary reprieve but the next day the soldiers talk about the show and giggle and laugh."
Throughout his career, Savitt has won the prestigious 2007 Boston Comedy Festival, the 2008 Seattle Comedy Competition and was honored for the "Best In Comedy" category at the 2009 L.A. Comedy Awards.
"Those are definitely highlights of my career and great times," he said. "It’s nice to be recognized and all those things help in putting yourself out there in the public eye and getting work."
One of his current goals is to become an actor.
"I still have the bug to go into acting, because I can act as well but comedy is so time consuming," he said. "I don’t have enough time to go to auditions, because I’m honing the act and that’s a 24-hour-a-day job."
He also has an idea for a new comedy CD. His debut CD, 2007’s "Who Wants Me Now," is one of the top-requested releases on satellite radio.
"The CD gods have not been favorable to me right so far, because there are many things that need to go right," Savitt said. "You have to have a competent audio person. You have to have the right crowd that’s not too drunk and the right equipment.
"I have made a couple of attempts to do a new CD, but they haven’t been satisfactory to me," he said. "However, I do intend to get it done."
The Egyptian Theatre, 328 Main St., will present stand-up comedians Tommy Savitt and Carmen Morales on Friday, May 2, and Saturday, May 3, at 8 p.m. Tickets range from $19 to $32 and can be purchased by visiting http://www.parkcityshows.com . For more information about Tommy Savitt, visit http://www.tommysavitt.com.