Comedian Bob Marley has toured the country, performed on a variety of late night television programs and even broken a world record for longest continuous standup comedy routine, but the Bangor-born comic always makes time to do shows in Maine and entertain his home crowd.
Earlier today, we got Marley on the phone and he took a few minutes to talk with us about the state of New England sports, performing around the country and some new jokes he has been working on.
Bob Marley: I’m pumped, dude. I love going up to Orono.
Derrick Rossignol for The Maine Campus: You were born in Bangor, so is it like a homecoming?
BM: Yeah, it is. I actually played hockey in Orono in the arena the first year it was open. So we went from 14th Street, which was outdoor hockey, with our snorkel jackets on under our helmets, you know? They said, “Hey, we’re going to move you kids up to the big arena.” I remember walking into that Alfond Arena with the 3,000 seats and thinking, “Oh my God, we’re like in the NHL, this is awesome.”
So it’s kind of like a homecoming, yeah. I grew up in Bangor on Kenduskeag Avenue, on the way to Husson, kind of.
MEC: Speaking of sports, how do you feel about the Red Sox right now? They’re hurting, huh?
BM: Dude, it’s unbelievable. Here’s my thing: it’s like, come on, we can’t forget how good they were those two years in 2007 and 2004 and how good they’ve been all these other years, but I do think that … their next game is tomorrow night [Oct. 4], right?
MEC: I’m not sure.
BM: It’s that or tonight, but I think [Red Sox manager] Bobby Valentine’s going to show up with his suitcase packed and he’s going to wheel it into Fenway Park. I just think it’s so sad, man. I haven’t watched any of it this year, it’s like … it’s so frustrating. They traded [pitcher Josh Beckett] and Beckett starts throwing well and you’re like, “Really, dude?”
MEC: Well, it’s part of the cycle, I guess.
BM: Yeah, it’s a bummer, but the Patriots are doing good and the Pats were complaining about the refs two weeks ago, but the refs didn’t even come into play because the field goal kicker … they were complaining about him, too, and I’m like, you kicked four field goals. Without him, you wouldn’t have any points at all. It’s not soccer; it’s supposed to be football, dude.
MEC: The Celtics are looking pretty promising this year.
BM: Yeah, the Celtics should be all right, and the Bruins … I don’t know what the Bruins are doing. Tim Thomas kind of … pulled a nutty and he’s not playing, but they’re not playing any hockey at all, so I don’t know, we’ll see what happens. I liked it when I was growing up as a kid, though: people would ask me, “Are you good at hockey?” I don’t know, it depends: were you good if your sister was also on your team? [laughs]
MEC: So to talk about your act a little bit, your material is mainly about Maine and life in Maine, so when you’re not playing in Maine or New England, how do crowds respond to those jokes that are more localized?
BM: When I’m in New England, I’ve found that any blue collar, cold weather state can really relate to me, but for some reason, I do really well in Arizona, I do really well in D.C. There are certain markets around the country where I just do really well because everybody has family and I have tons of observational jokes and a lot of jokes about my wife and kids and parents and stuff, so it travels pretty well, but it certainly resonates more in Maine because I’m from here and I’ll do more bits about Maine when I’m here, you know? So it works a lot better in New England.
I just got back from Atlanta last week and this guy walked to the front of the stage five minutes into my set and he goes, “Hey! Hey, guess what?” [Marley emphasizes the “h” in “what”] First of all, anybody who puts an “h” before a “w” is creepy to me, you know? They don’t say “what,” they say, “hwat!” So he goes, “Hey, guess what?” and I go, “What?” He says, “You talk funny!” I’m like, “Really? Are you sure it’s me, because you’re speaking the Queen’s English over here, dude. At least I don’t sound like I’m getting a colonoscopy all the time.” [laughs]
But yeah, I travel all around the country and I like it, but of course New England’s my favorite, especially Maine. It’s just great, like when they raised the speed limit up north … where are you from?
MEC: Way up in the north of Aroostook County, actually.
BM: Yeah, OK, so you know. When they raised the speed limit to 75 [miles per hour], everybody was all excited, like, “That’s awesome.” I don’t have the heart to tell the turnpike authority that we’ve been going a hundred miles per hour on that road for the last 50 years. Why would I slow down to 75? And here’s the other thing: who’s in a rush to get to Houlton? Who’s driving up there going, “I’m going to put the hammer down.” If I go to Houlton, I’m going 25 miles an hour in the break down lane and hoping I don’t make it.
MEC: That hurts, but it’s true, can’t blame you there. So what kind of stuff have you been working on in the past year since you were last here?
BM: I’m always trying to overstuff. I got a whole bunch of new jokes that I’ve been working on. I just finished a whole block about summer and how summer in New England really sucks because if you think about it, it’s really only five or six weeks and everybody’s so panicked to get everything in. Every time the sun breaks, people just start grabbing coolers and they’re running for the beach, “Now, go now!” It’s almost like an evacuation from a nuclear holocaust or something.
My wife has all these things lined up. She’s like, “Do you want to put a vegetable garden next to the house?” I’m like, “Yeah, bring the wildlife a little closer to the building. Why don’t we strap a sirloin to my nuts and tie me to a birch tree while we’re at it?” She says, “You want to go blueberry picking?” and I say, “That’s a great idea: yeah, I want to do some hard manual labor. What I want to do is crawl around in these d— blueberry fields with deer ticks biting my t—- when I could buy a gallon of [blueberries] at Shaw’s for $1.41.”
People always ask me how I come up with new material and it’s like, if you’re married and you have kids or if you just go out and live, I just come and report the information.
MEC: I guess I’m out of questions, so thank you for taking a few minutes to chat and I look forward to your show.
BM: OK, awesome, thanks for doing this.
MEC: Yeah, sure thing.
BM: OK buddy, bye.
Bob Marley will perform at the Collins Center for the Arts on Oct. 12. Tickets are available from the CCA box office or online at collinscenterforthearts.com.