Northeast Times

Laughter is the best medicine

Holmes­burg res­id­ent Tim Grill has no prob­lem jok­ing about his battle with spina bi­fida. In fact, that’s just the be­gin­ning of his com­edy routine.

When com­edy fans travel to Nick’s Roast Beef on Sept. 29, they won’t have to wait long for Tim Grill to ad­dress his dis­ab­il­ity.

Grill, some­times known as “The Barely Can Stand Up Com­ic,” has about a dozen jokes in his rep­er­toire about spina bi­fida.

“I joke about it and get it out of the way,” he said. “It’s not my whole act. I don’t want to be a one-trick pony, but people with dis­ab­il­it­ies have a sense of hu­mor. You can joke about any­thing if you do it the right way.”

The Holmes­burg res­id­ent has cer­tainly over­come the birth de­fect, en­dur­ing 13 sur­ger­ies and spend­ing 18 years as a pa­tient at Shriners Hos­pit­al for Chil­dren back when it was loc­ated on Roosevelt Boulevard. He was told he’d nev­er walk.

Grill is a gradu­ate of St. Jerome Ele­ment­ary School, Fath­er Judge High School and Holy Fam­ily Uni­versity.

While at Holy Fam­ily, he was on the com­mit­tee that helped the school trans­ition from a col­lege to a uni­versity. He gradu­ated with a de­gree in psy­cho­logy.

Today, he works as a so­cial work­er for the state of New Jer­sey, trav­el­ing each day to the state cap­it­al of Trenton.

For the last 15 years, he’s per­formed stan­dup com­edy. He’s been get­ting steady work for the last dec­ade.

In fact, he’s already done 64 shows this year and typ­ic­ally has 100 dates on his cal­en­dar. He works al­most every week­end, which is es­pe­cially good in an era where cable tele­vi­sion com­edy shows have hurt club at­tend­ance.

The gigs have in­cluded open­ing for and em­cee­ing for Joe Conk­lin, the pop­u­lar sports comedi­an.

“Com­edy has be­come a part-time job,” he said. “It keeps me busy.”

Grill and fel­low North­east en­ter­tain­ers Joey Cal­la­han and Erin Mulville will help Nick’s, loc­ated at 2212 Cottman Ave. in Rhawn­hurst, join the com­edy cir­cuit for the first time. Mike Dougherty Pro­duc­tions is mak­ing the show hap­pen.

Nick’s prom­ises cus­tom­ers they will “nev­er get a bum steer,” and Grill is hop­ing the in­aug­ur­al com­edy show goes as well. The even­ing of com­edy will take place in the eat­ery’s ban­quet hall.

“I used to go there a lot, and all of a sud­den I’m per­form­ing there,” he said. “Hope­fully, we’ll get a good audi­ence.”

Grill can al­most guar­an­tee a good audi­ence on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1, the two days after the Nick’s show, when he per­forms at one of his fa­vor­ite clubs, the Com­edy Cab­aret in Doylestown.

The com­ic got his start at open-mike nights at the Com­edy Cab­aret on Roosevelt Boulevard and has also per­formed at its club in Marlton, N.J.

It took Grill five years to be­come a reg­u­lar on the com­ic scene both loc­ally and else­where. “It takes a long time to get poise and con­fid­ence and be­come good,” he said. “The only way you can get bet­ter is stage time.”

On stage, Grill will joke about be­ing Ir­ish and Cath­ol­ic, at­tend­ing Fath­er Judge (Class of 1988) and not at­tend­ing Ab­ra­ham Lin­coln. He’ll sing and play the gui­tar.

For the 30-and-older crowd, he’ll tell jokes about the Devon Theat­er, where movie­go­ers used to get their feet stuck to the floor at the aging ven­ue.

“It’s a huge laugh,” he said.

Speak­ing of the re­fur­bished Devon, which is largely idle after a much-bal­ly­hooed con­ver­sion to a per­form­ing arts cen­ter, Grill be­lieves it would be a per­fect place for a com­edy club.

The over­head would be pretty low. “All you would need is a mi­cro­phone and a spot­light,” he said.

Grill is happy to have a good, steady job with be­ne­fits. Some days at the of­fice are bet­ter than those on stage.

A cap­tive audi­ence is ideal, but that’s not al­ways the case, with tele­vi­sion and oth­er dis­trac­tions catch­ing the crowd’s eye.

“I’ve played places as busy as this,” he said dur­ing a Sat­urday morn­ing in­ter­view at one of his fa­vor­ite loc­al res­taur­ants, the Din­ing Car.

Grill has played at bars, bowl­ing al­leys, com­munity pools and Chinese res­taur­ants.

“The glam­or­ous life of a comedi­an,” he said. “I’ve played some of the strangest ven­ues you can ima­gine. When you’re on stage and a disco ball is above your head, you know it can go either way.”

That’s not to say Grill hasn’t had plenty of good mo­ments. He’s been mas­ter of ce­re­mon­ies and com­peted in con­tests at He­li­um, the Sansom Street ven­ue that he con­siders the premi­er com­edy club in Phil­adelphia.

Then there was the late-Au­gust per­form­ance in Syra­cuse, N.Y., where 1980s fa­vor­ites Jour­ney, For­eign­er and Night Ranger were play­ing at a state fair.

Grill shared a hotel shuttle van with band mem­bers of For­eign­er.

“I was jok­ing that I went on tour with For­eign­er,” he said. ••

Re­port­er Tom War­ing can be reached at 215-354-3034 or twar­ing@bsmphilly.com

Have some laughs with your beef …

Comedi­ans Tim Grill, Joey Cal­la­han and Erin Mulville will per­form on Thursday, Sept. 29, at Nick’s Roast Beef, 2212 Cottman Ave.

Tick­ets for the all-ages show cost $20 in ad­vance and $25 at the door, and in­clude hors d’oeuvres. There will be an open bar fea­tur­ing draft beer, wine and well drinks for an ad­di­tion­al $20.

Doors open at 7 p.m., and the show will start at 8. For re­ser­va­tions, call 215-745-1292.

For more in­form­a­tion, vis­it ht­tp://www.mike­dougher­typro­duc­tions.com

You can reach at twaring@bsmphilly.com.

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