Almost 30 years ago, Brian Shirley was just getting his feet wet at a comedy workshop in Charleston. Now he’s an actor, writer, producer, podcaster and stand-up comedian with some serious showbiz stamina.
“I’ve always kinda been weird and funny as a person,” Shirley said. “And my imagination based on real life reflects that.”
According to Shirley, he joined the United States Air Force when he was 20 and after serving his time, bounced around working odd jobs before participating in a comedy workshop in Charleston. He explained that it was there where he really learned to use his voice.
“I started out doing emcee work,” Shirley said. “A lot of comedians start that way and then work up from there until they’re good enough to be featured, which is 30 minutes on stage. The ultimate goal is to headline, which is what I do now.”
Since launching his career, Shirley has toured the United States, Japan, Canada and the Bahamas performing stand-up comedy. He’s also been part of an improv troupe, hosted radio shows, published three comedy books, created three web series, appeared in independent films and web TV series, a music video for the Grammy Winning band Ranky Tanky called “Good Time,” and many more. In addition, he’s worked with Rodney Carrington, Michael Winslow, Tim Wilson, Aisha Tyler, Billy Gardell, Josh Wolf, Dusty Slay, Basile, MJ Live, Diamond & Silk, Jimmy Walker and Huey Lewis and the News.
With three decades of comedic material under his belt, Shirley says deciding what to perform is usually a spur of the moment, audience-driven decision and his acts cover a wide range of topics from growing up poor, the military, stories from being on the road and working on film sets, his heart attack, etc.
“I think I’ve built a very different show,” he explained. “It’s not just your normal stand-up because I don’t just tell jokes. I always do the big acts, the stuff that I know really rocks the room and then make a decision as to which way to go depending on the crowd. The more fun they are, the deeper I can go!”
“I’ve also done a lot of background acting work in Savannah and I have so many stories now about what has happened on set,” he continued. “If you want to hear a joke about the movie Halloween Ends, that’s part of my show.”
In addition to telling stories, Shirley also creates characters that sometimes come out on stage.
“One is the fine Southern gentlemen. I do have a script but sometimes the character takes over and goes off script. I like to weave the audience into my show so no one can tell what is scripted and what is improvised.”
On Sat., Dec. 10 Shirley will take the Savannah Comedy Revue stage and he couldn’t be anymore excited to return with some new material.
“I’m excited about bringing some new material to Savannah because I’ve worked the Savannah Comedy Revue a lot, probably about 10 years now and it’s always good to come back. Support live comedy because the laugh you save could be your own.”
To purchase tickets or for more information visit savannahcomedyrevue.com