It’s supposed to be a fairly mild weekend for the start of winter, and that suits Bruce Bruce just fine. The Atlanta-based comedian, who has visited Pittsburgh numerous times, prefers warmer weather.
“Man, I’ve been touring for the last 25 years, and Pittsburgh has always been a good city for me,” said Mr. Bruce. “The people there show me a lot of love. But I have to tell you, the one thing I dislike is that it gets too dag-gone cold there.”
Thankfully, temperatures in the 40s and 50s are forecast as Mr. Bruce comes to town for shows tonight and Saturday at The Pittsburgh Improv in Homestead.
Mr. Bruce, 48, is much more than a very large African-American man. He has crafted a style of observational humor that is sharp yet embraceable.
“It’s an adult show, it’s definitely not for kids,” he said. “But I’m not offensive. I don’t do anything degrading or insulting.”
Unless, of course, you happen to be sitting in the audience wearing a hideous sweater.
“OK, yeah, I’ll do that,” Mr. Bruce laughed, recalling a clip that you can sample on YouTube. “But did you see that sweater?”
Much of his humor targets relationships. Family, marriage — even race relations.
“My comedy is not a show for just black people or just white people. My show is for everybody,” he said. “I get a totally mixed crowd, and I get the same response everywhere I go. Our target was to reach a mixed crowd and then once they see me, we’re at our best. And the crowds are getting bigger and bigger all the time.”
He developed his act, he said, by watching other comedians.
“My favorite was Milton Berle, believe it or not,” he said. “Growing up in the ’hood, I was a weird kid because I liked Milton Berle.”
His press kit notes that he made his first appearance on HBO’s Def Comedy Jam in 1993, followed by an appearance on the Showtime at the Apollo hosted by Steve Harvey in 1994. Since then, he’s been a favorite on the road.
“Most of my material is brand new,” he said. “I come up with it off the top of my head. But my focus is not ripping on the audience. Of course, I might be working on a big person, but I’m a big person, so I get away with it. It’s like I’m ripping on myself at the same time.
“I talk about things that people can relate to. Points of view, relationships. A lot of guys really need to hear it. How to treat your girl, what you should do and what you shouldn’t do. I make you think and I make you laugh at the same time.”
Mr. Bruce has recorded three DVDs, but his next project is a CD.
“Most comedians can’t do a CD because they do things that you have to see,” he said. “But back in the day of the ’60s and the ’70s, we had albums and you listened.
“This was something we wanted to try to do, my manager, my agent. We had a meeting and I was telling stories and they really liked what I said. So we said, ‘Let’s just do a CD,’ and we did it and we want to put it out next year. Something you can listen to in the car.”
That’s if you can drive while laughing.
“The real stuff is the best stuff,” said Mr. Bruce, who recounted a story from one of his previous visits to Pittsburgh.
“I went to a Steelers game,” he said. “They were playing the Cleveland Browns, I think, and I didn’t realize how serious Pittsburgh was about the Steelers. I made a joke and this guy told me, ‘If you don’t want to get thrown out of here, you better stop saying that.’ I said, ‘Man, I was just joking.’ And he said, ‘We hope you are.’
“I had a ball at the game, but it was sure cold.”
Mr. Bruce is scheduled to perform at the Improv at 166 E. Bridge St. tonight at 8 and 10 p.m. and Saturday at 7 and 9 p.m. Tickets are $25.
Dan Majors: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1456.
First Published December 20, 2013 5:20 PM