Arts & Entertainment

Comedian will have you rolling at Jokers

Craig Gass is the kind of comic who has as much fun being funny as his audiences.

That's because his shtick is impersonating just about any celebrity you can name.

He learned the trick by watching TV as a kid.

"My whole family is deaf, so I literally learned to mimic the people I heard on TV," Gass said in a telephone interview this week. "So I guess you could say I've been talking like everyone else damn near my whole life."

He grew up in New York, not far from the Bronx, but never had the accent. "I'm sure that's because I watched all that TV and copied speech there instead of where I lived," he said.

Gass is the headliner at Joker's Comedy Club on Aug. 26-27. Showtime is 8:30 p.m. Cover is $20.

Besides his standup touring, Gass has had guest roles on such TV shows as Sex in the City, Law & Order and King of Queens. He's written for Saturday Night Live's Weekend Update and was Howard Stern's sidekick on his radio show in the mid-1990s.

Gass says the more odd-sounding a celebrity's voice is, the easier it is to mimic -- like Christopher Walken, Gene Simmons and Al Pacino. There are plenty of videos on the internet worth checking out of Gass' imitations.

During one episode on Stern's radio show, Stern was interviewing Paul McCartney and Gass kept interrupting, making rude statements while pretending to be Kiss frontman Gene Simmons.

"Gene heard about it and flew to New York and confronted me on the show," Gass said. "He warmed up to me later, then brought me to his house L.A. and had me make some business calls pretending to be him while he took a nap. I even got to sit in his chair while I made those calls. It was great."

Gass even took part in the recent roasting of Simmons on TV, hammering the rock star with insults in his own voice.

"What the viewing audience never saw during Gene's roast was during a commercial break one of the roasters, Steve-O from the movie Jackass, was so drunk he relieved himself on Danny Bonaduce," Gass said.

What Gass likes best about what he does for a living is how much fun he has being funny.

"I am always amazed at how many unhappy comics there are in this business," he said. "Life is strange that way."

He also is no longer bothered by all the traveling that his job requires. He's not married, though he's had a few long-term relationships.

The best advice he took to heart was what Jay Leno told then-unknown actor Vin Diesel years ago at a film festival.

"He told him that if you wanted to make it in this business, don't start a family and don't get a decent job," Gass said. "I listened and learned."

Gass also thinks it funny that even though he never graduated from high school, he went on two senior trips and has attended two of his high school reunions.

His show is definitely not for the timid, sensitive or too serious types, because he does use strong language during his show.

"But I'm a good person, and I love my mom," he said.