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Philadelphia Daily News Sept 20, 1999

Perry Confronts Peril Face to Face

He keeps himself, others in stitches
Oxford Circle native Perry Kurtz makes people laugh for a living. Now, he’s coming back home to show off his comedy.
By Sunshine Werbock
Times Staff Writer

Almost nothing can compare to a firsthand laugh.

   As the endangered twilight of live comedy sputters out against the brash dawn of cable TV and satellite programming, there are still a few blazing comedians who understand the power of live entertainment. Whether they use razor-sharp cunning; flexible faces or infectious wit, some live comedians can turn a room full of passive listeners into a hysterical crowd roaring with laughter.
   Oxford Circle native Perry Kurtz understands how to dazzle audiences in the flesh better than most.
    After graduating from Northeast High School in 1962, Kurtz left Philly behind to chase his dream of making people laugh for a living. His desire led him to California, of course, where his dream came true when he was hired as a satirical male stripper. Now after years of national comedy tours, television appearances and radio broadcasts, this 46-year-old wizard of wit is coming home to showcase his comedic mastery. On May 23 and 24, Kurtz will appear at the Comedy Works in Georgine’s restaurant on Newport Road in Bristol. Now living in Los Angeles with his wife and three children, Kurtz has developed quite a resume.
   He’s played renowned comedy clubs like Dangerfleld’s and the Comedy Store and has been featured on America’s Funniest People on ABC and the HBO Comedy Showcase. But Kurtz remembers his Northeast heritage. He said that he was always known as “the big mouth” in his neighborhood. Kurtz also recalled realizing in 1979 how important it was to leave Philadelphia in order to launch his career.
    “I left for six weeks”, he said in a telephone interview from California, “and I’m still here.”
   After finding his first job in a San Francisco male revue club as a master of ceremonies, Kurtz decided that he could probably make more money if he were stripping – facetiously, of course. “I did it as comedy,” Kurtz explained. After 3 stimulating years of taking it off, Kurtz knew it was time to move on again. “I had to get out. It was a major fast lane – not a healthy lifestyle,” he said.
   Once he started tour the country with an improvisational comedy routine, Kurtz was unstoppable. He soon became a headliner. But he never forgot his start. “I open with a strip routine,” he said. “It’s about three and a half minutes long which is more than enough for anybody.”
   Kurtz describes his act as very improvisational. He said that he’s never quite sure what he’s going to say until it pops out of his mouth. But the things that pop out of his mouth sure have gotten him noticed. In one glowing review of his act San Francisco Calendar Magazine noted. “Before he speaks a word, there are five minutes of continual laughter Kurtz is a performer who MUST be seen to be believed.”
   Even in the face of so much praise, Kurtz remains pretty modest. He explained that the reason he loves comedy is simple: He loves to make people laugh. “There is nothing like the feeling of having two-hundred people laughing hysterically. “There is nothing like that,” he said. ‘‘If I can make them happy, even for a minute, it’s very rewarding.” After one show. Kurtz recalled, a man came up to him and said that he had laughed so hard his mouth hurt. It’s this kind of direct response and contact that keeps Kurtz going. Although, he admits that he would love to have his own talk show on television, he said that he can’t help but feel that TV has hindered live comedy.
   Plus, a good deal of today’s comedy is overly sexist or racist, Kurtz said. “But. I’m not offensive at all,” he added.
   Kurtz can’t wait for his hometown fans to come out to Georgine’s and sample some of his hilarity. He’s hoping that some of the people that he’s been friends with for 40 years will show up.

Kurtz’ May 23rd & 24th shows begin at 9:30p.m. Tickets are $12 per person and should be purchased at least a half-hour before show time. Tickets are sold on a first-come, first-served basis, unless a reservation is made. For more information, call 785-0446.

Link to The Times webpage

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Last modified: 12/04/2020