Keep ‘em laughing

Craig Shoe­maker: “In high school, I was kind of geeky.”

— For Mont­gomery County nat­ive Craig Shoe­maker, the abil­ity to de­liv­er a smile has giv­en him a dur­able com­edy ca­reer.


When Craig Shoe­maker’s fath­er left home, the little boy was raised in an all-fe­male house­hold that in­cluded his moth­er, grand­moth­er and sev­er­al aunts.

“Ob­vi­ously they wer­en’t there for pro­tec­tion, al­though I used to think the tam­pons I found were sticks of dy­nam­ite,” said Shoe­maker, who grew up to be­come an award-win­ning com­ic who will take the stage at Sellers­ville Theat­er 1894 on Sat­urday, May 12. “I used to think be­cause my mom was so poor all she could af­ford were duds.”

But it was a happy, if totally es­tro­gen-filled home, said Shoe­maker, who ex­plained that they all used to bond by sit­ting around watch­ing sit­coms on TV.

“There was All in the Fam­ily, the Mary Tyler Moore Show, Bob Ne­whart and oth­ers,” Shoe­maker ex­plained. “I also used to try to en­ter­tain them by do­ing my little Bat­man dance or whatever else I could think of. To me, hear­ing them laugh was the best medi­cine pos­sible, cer­tainly bet­ter than Bact­ine, which stung like crazy.”

And as he grew, so did his de­sire to make every­one around him laugh. Raised in Spring­field, Mont­gomery County and a gradu­ate of Spring­field High School, Shoe­maker, now 53, began his tele­vi­sion and film ca­reer in Phil­adelphia in the 1980s.

His first on­stage per­form­ance took place at a bar between the sets of his co-work­er’s mu­sic act. When he de­scribed the ex­per­i­ence, he said, “Some­body laughed and I was hooked.”

He per­formed char­ac­ters for loc­al tele­vi­sion shows, and won two na­tion­al Academy of Tele­vi­sion Arts and Sci­ences Emmy Awards for video shorts that he wrote, pro­duced and starred in.

“In the early days my spe­cialty was do­ing im­pres­sions,” he said. “That’s one of the reas­ons The Love­mas­ter was born.”

The second reas­on was be­cause Shoe­maker kept strik­ing out with the girls. With his Barry White-type voice, Shoe­maker said The Love­mas­ter, his al­ter ego, was born out of ne­ces­sity.

“When I was in high school I was kind of geeky,” he ex­plained, “and all the girls would use the F word me with — Friend, that is. That’s how they saw me. They used to turn me down for dates and al­ways talk about the ‘bad guys’ they were at­trac­ted to. So I be­came what I thought they were telling me they wanted. And that’s how The Love­mas­ter even­tu­ally was born.”

And Shoe­maker said he can’t do a per­form­ance without the “arch-se­du­cer show­ing up. He’s that sexu­al lothario that wo­men say they don’t want, but there’s cer­tainly some part of them that sure does. He’s that sexu­al beast that lies with­in us and con­tin­ues to come out now and then. But I can’t com­plain. He’s been very, very good to me.”

Now a vet­er­an of the com­edy scene, Shoe­maker feels his call­ing is to bring com­edy to the world. He said he’s now in the pro­cess of fi­nal­iz­ing pa­pers with oth­er groups that will com­bine to raise the aware­ness of the powers of laughter.

Named Best Comedi­an/Im­pres­sion­ist in Phil­adelphia and Comedi­an of the Year at the Amer­ic­an Com­edy Awards, and the re­cip­i­ent of many oth­er awards, Shoe­maker is the proud fath­er of three sons.

“Be­cause I didn’t have a good and at­tent­ive fath­er, I think I’ve upped the level on that one,” he said. “My whole goal is to raise them well so that when they go in­to ther­apy I’m not the lead story. I didn’t get par­ents who could tell me they loved me, and I know my kids will nev­er have that long­ing. They may have oth­er is­sues but not that one. They won’t have that hole in their soul.” ••

For show times and tick­et in­form­a­tion, call 215-257-5808.

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