F-bombs, Cousin-love, and The Importance of Pens
By Len Sousa
Often seen performing at comedy clubs like Dick Doherty’s in Worcester and Giggles in Saugus, comedian Paul Keenan has some serious acting chops backing up his humor: He’s in the Showtime series Brotherhood and, working alongside Hollywood heavy-hitters Kevin Bacon, Lawrence Fishburne and Sean Penn in Clint Eastwood’s Academy Award winning film Mystic River, was himself nominated for an Oscar as Best Supporting Extra for this film. He’s also a lending his talent to theatrical productions all over the state and receiving outstanding reviews. But we wanted to hear about Paul’s career as a comic ~ and find out if he really is what his website claims, “…a 10-year-old boy trapped within a 6’4” adult frame” ~ so we squeezed in a few minutes with him while he was on the road ~ literally.
Paul Keenan: You’ll have to excuse me if I start cursing at people on the highway.
Len Sousa: No problem. Drop an f-bomb once for me. So how did you get bit by the comedy bug?
PK: Friends used to say I should try stand-up comedy. At first, I was like, ‘Ah, I don’t think so.’ But then I met an old friend who said he had tried it. So I went down to Pawtucket, RI to an open mic night and a lot of the people I saw were just horrible. I thought I could do better. So I spent a month writing about five minutes worth of material, and I’ve been doing comedy for the last 12 years.
LS: Did it take a while for you to get started?
PK: For a long time, I was doing it pretty half-assed. I’d go to open mics and stuff for six months and then I’d stop for a couple months. I still have a day job at Voice Systems in Canton, and they’ve been very supportive of my comedy and acting career. Now I’m fortunate to be working with pretty much every major booker in the Boston area.
Photo by Cindy Hoeppner
LS: How do you come up with your material?
PK: This is gonna sound stupid, but in the shower and driving. I mostly come up with stuff when I’m forced to sit and talk to myself. When there’s no one else around I start to go into writing mode. Then the trick is to find a pen. Most of my stuff gets written on napkins.
LS: Which comedians do you admire?
PK: Mitch Hedberg was my absolute favorite. He was a genius. And I really respected the way he worked. He didn’t do blue stuff; no sex or politics. It was all just regular funny stuff. I loved him. But local guys that I really admire are people like Tony V, Don Gavin, and Kevin Knox. It’s cool to work with them and see how they work; absorb things from them. They’re all good guys.
LS: Hypothetical: You’re offered a sitcom. Whom do you play?
PK: I think I would want the Brad Garrett deal on Everybody Loves Raymond. He was really important to the show, but all the pressure was on Ray Romano. I think I’d be happy being good at what I do but not have all that scrutiny and pressure to put the whole show together. I’d also be happy with the six-or-seven figure salary.
LS: We’ve got some room left, and Pulse is an accommodating publication. Any local shout outs you’d like to give?
PK: Yes, actually. To my girlfriend Cindy, my cousin Christine and her husband Chuck in Worcester and their boys. I want to thank them for all their continued support.
Come check out Paul’s comedy on December 15 and 16 at 9pm at Dick Doherty’s Comedy Club at the Crown Plaza in Worcester. Also drop by www. paulckeenan.com for more info and more show dates.
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