The Tampa Bay Buccaneers had their moment this past football season with a quarterback doing the impossible, but now it’s time for Western Massachusetts to get their own version of “FitzMagic” this weekend, thanks to a familiar face from deep in the roots of the Boston comedy scene.
Greg Fitzsimmons, who started his 30-year stand-up career doing hell gigs all over the Commonwealth with Joe Rogan back in the late-’80s, will be returning to his comedy roots for a trio of shows at ROAR! Comedy Club at MGM Springfield on Friday (March 15) and Saturday (March 16). This will be his first time doing his thing at the new club, and the prospect of performing in a building that resembles a royal fortress has Fitzsimmons excited and ready to dress for the occasion.
“It’s in a castle, so I feel regal, in a sense,” Fitzsimmons tells Vanyaland with a chuckle. “I’ll be wearing a crown, and I’ll have a scepter on stage, but maybe I should be dressed as the court jester. I like casino gigs, though. People come in, and maybe they’ve lost some money so they need to cheer up a little bit, and it seems like it’s a well-run room, so I’m really looking forward to it.”
Stand-up may be his meal ticket, but Fitzsimmons has more than enough to keep him busy when he’s not on the road. For starters, he’s the host of two podcasts, FitzDog Radio and Childish — the latter of which he hosts alongside Alison Rosen — and while it might seem like a lot to juggle, the radio host lives for the challenge, and takes it all in stride.
“It all just seems to work out, and I feel like I’m lazy about it,” he says. “FitzDog Radio doesn’t take that much time, because the hardest part is booking it, but the actual doing of it is a piece of cake. I have a nice little office in Santa Monica where people come by, drink coffee, we shoot the shit for an hour, and then I send it to my producer, so that doesn’t take very long. The Childish podcast I do with Alison is little bit more work because we engage listeners more with their questions, so it’s a little bit more work. It’s all pretty doable, though.”
Unfortunately for Fitzsimmons, it’s become a lot more doable, very quickly, since the show that he had been a writer for, Pete Holmes’ HBO series Crashing, was cancelled after four seasons earlier this week. Nevertheless, while the untimely axing leaves a bit of a sting, Fitzsimmons is coming to terms with the cancellation.
“I wish the show went on a bit longer, because it felt like we were just really hitting our stride with people really liking the third season a lot more than the other seasons, and I think the actors were getting better,” says Fitzsimmons. “Some of them are stand-up comedians, so there was a learning curve there. It was their first acting gig for a lot of them, including Pete [Holmes], and I think the learning curve was really steep, and it got easier to write for them as the relationships developed. But, I guess it was just time.”
In the meantime, while he works on pitches for the upcoming pilot season, Fitzsimmons has put together a new hour of stand-up material on tape that he’s hoping will land him a new special this year. The uncertainty that looms for Fitzsimmons, at least in terms of a writing job for a TV show, may seem discouraging, but he’s a battle-tested veteran in the comedy industry, and instead of feeling defeated, he’s feeling energized and ready to tackle the next project.
“I’ve been doing this for 30 years, and I just have to keep putting irons in the fire, because you never know which ones are going to come up,” says the California-based comedian. “I had a show on Howard Stern’s channel for, like, 10 years and that just got cancelled last month, so now I’ve got another show in the works already. You’re always pitching, and that’s just part of the job, but I think at times like this where I just had two shows cancelled, there’s kind of an excitement to that, with this feeling of ‘this is how it all started when I was in Boston,’ and you just have to keep blindly pushing forward, and it always works out.”
Throwing in the towel is not the Greg Fitzsimmons way. He’s been around the industry long enough to know that there’s a flow to the nature of the game, and that you have to be willing to embrace the challenge if you hope to survive in the scene. At some point, a career in comedy became less about getting famous for Fitzsimmons, and more about doing what he loved, and doing as much of it as possible.
“[My career] is custom-made to exactly what I wanna do, and in order to sustain that, all I have to do is just keep showing up. And I really believe that if you just do it your own way and you’re true to your voice, that you’re always going to find people that wanna buy tickets to your show, and as long as you put yourself out there, in this post modern version of stand-up comedy, it’s up to you,” muses Fitzsimmons. “You don’t need a million fans to make a living. You just need to keep touching people with your reality, and they’ll come along for the ride.”
GREG FITZSIMMONS :: Friday, March 15 and Saturday, March 16 at ROAR! Comedy Club, One MGM Way in Springfield, MA :: Friday at 7:15 p.m., Saturday at 7:15 p.m. and 9:45 p.m., $26 :: Advance tickets and show info ::