For Robbie Printz, the jokes just write themselves
But the dog’s not happy about it
By Michael Witthaus firstname.lastname@example.org
Comedian Robbie Printz says that when he got the news of his impending fatherhood, he wasn’t thinking, “This will probably be good for some new jokes.”
Not at first, anyway.
“No, it was ‘Oh, crap, man,” said the comic from his home in Nashua. “A little while went by; I was driving down the road, and I realized I was smiling. Because thank God, I needed something to invigorate my act!”
There are, after all, comic possibilities in life-changing events.
“The hockey joke is getting stale,” he thought. “I could replace that with some good baby material and throw the other two kids into it. You got a three-for-one deal there. It’s my life,” he said. “The jokes write themselves.”
In the past year, Printz has gone from divorced and single to engaged with a four-month-old son, and two kids from his fiancée’s previous marriage.
“I was living in a one-room apartment with my dog,” he said. “The dog’s not happy about it. He went from second in command to sixth, and he hasn’t had a bone in so long. He just looks at me every day like, ‘You screwed up, dude … you got ME neutered?’”
That’s a lot of upside for a guy trying to keep his act fresh.
“This year I have 20 minutes of new stuff, whereas last year, maybe 10,” he said. “The jokes write themselves.”
Printz broke into comedy while still in college. After seeing Eddie Murphy perform live, he decided to parlay a childhood spent making up his own SNL skits into a career as a standup.
“Just being in a room like that, making people happy, I thought — what a great job,” he said.
The early years were good ones for the comic. Printz appeared on Evening at the Improv before A&E morphed into a reality network, and did standup on Comedy Central and MTV. In 2002, he took top honors at the Boston Comedy Fest; a year later the Improper Bostonian named him “Comedian of the Year.”
Now in his 40s, Printz can’t help feeling nostalgic.
“I’m spoiled, because I started in the late ’80s,” he said. “It was totally crazy back then. Now I think it’s good but not as good as it was. There’s not as much camaraderie in it. There’s a lot of infighting. ‘If you work for me, you can’t work for him; you can’t do that room if you’re doing this room.’”
Printz tries to stay above the fray. “I need to make a living and feed a family. I’m an independent contractor, I work for everybody,” he said. “If a guy’s a plumber and he works on my house, I’m not going to tell him he can’t work on the house next door.”
His mostly PG act still relies on scenes from his own life, but these days instead of his childhood, Printz is talking about his own kids. That’s given him some perspective: “I realized my parents were winging it!” Of his infant son, Printz says, “I don’t know how much I’ve screwed him up yet. I guess I’ll find out when he starts talking.”
He’s just begun to realize he’s in for a long ride. “Have you seen Juno?” Printz asks. “Do you remember when she goes to the abortion clinic, and the girl outside tells her that her baby already has fingernails? She goes into the clinic, and all she sees is fingers and nails. I’m like that now. When I’m on the road, all I see is minivans.”
Speaking of driving, he’s amused at how slow some are to embrace technology. Printz graduated with a degree in computer science when laptops weighed 20 pounds and the Internet was a distant dream, so he knows how far we’ve come. Sometimes, Printz wonders if he’s the only one.
“I am so amazed how many people don’t have E-Z Pass,” he said. “I’m in awe — do they just not know? They’re sitting in their cars seeing all these people fly by and thinking, ‘Look at all these lawbreakers! Where are the cops when you need them?’”
Printz guesses that they either crave the human touch, “the guy with the rubber gloves who acts like you’re infected or something,” or they just don’t get it.
“There’s Jetsons and there’s Flintstones,” he said finally.