A Valentine for Christmas this week at Improv comedy club
December 20, 2012
I can’t remember when Gary Valentine last headlined the Improv at Harveys.
I do remember trying to call him over something I saw on TMZ. I think it was about a woman who accused him of something and she was later caught in a lie. Gary never returned my call but that was like a year or two ago. All I know is that Valentine is a funny guy, an everyman’s kind of guy and he’s back probably with a whole new arsenal of humor.
Valentine played cousin Danny on the hit TV show, “The King of Queens” on CBS which starred his brother Kevin James. Lots of television creds that include a Comedy Central special, “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” and regular appearances on “Chelsea Lately” where, as a panelist pretty much steals the scenes with his quick, improvisational banter between Chelsea Handler and the rest of the guests. He’s been in a number of movies including the Farrelly Brothers film “Stuck on You” with Matt Damon and Greg Kinnear in addition to Jerry Seinfeld documentary feature, “Comedian” and the independent short “Alive ‘n’ Kickin.” He had small but hilarious part in Adam Sandler’s movie “I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry” and as a karaoke singer in “Paul Blart: Mall Cop” which both also starred Kevin James.
Gary’s an easy guy to like both on and off stage. The last time he was here he said that his act in part “is based on everyday life. I people-watch a lot. You know, go to the mall and just sit and observe.” He is good at paying particular attention be it here locally or in other parts of the country. His experiences visiting the South are among my favorite bits that he does.
His other huge passion is probably golf. Like fellow comedian Henry Cho might actually miss an audition if his game on the green is going very well. Fortunately, he won’t be missing any shows over golf because the courses are snowed over some.
If the audience knew in advance that Burton teaches Krav Maga Worldwide for a living in addition to his standup he would never get heckled.
If you’re not familiar with Krav Maga, according to Wikipedia, it’s a noncompetitive eclectic self- system developed in Israel that involves boxing, muay, Thai, jiu-jitsu, wrestling and grappling techniques along with realistic fight training. In other words, Mike could really kick your ass if he wanted. I think that’s why we haven’t seen him up here in more than four years. I remember when Burton was training to be an instructor but apparently he’s been really into it hence splitting his time between both standup and Krav Maga.
Burton mentioned even back then standup and Krav Maga were kind of similar. Mike said that as an instructor those parallels would include, “How to grasp your opponent’s attention, fluctuating your voice and making eye contact. My stand-up definitely 100 percent helps my teaching skills.”
Before he became an Israeli offensive machine, the Chicago native was slaying them on stage. He was a regular on Comedy Central’s “Make Me Laugh” and had spots on the CBS television show, “The King of Queens,” hence his relationship with both Gary Valentine and Kevin James.
Burton’s been in a few flicks the most notable being “Stuck on You,” starring Greg Kinnear and Matt Damon, but to me will always be best known for his association doing comedy shows overseas for our troops in war zones in addition to booking them, too.
With regards to his standup, it’s pretty much dictated by whatever mood the crowd might be in on any particular night. He’s always the butt of his jokes and his material reflects that. Neurotic? Yeah, but who isn’t in this business? The good news is that you can go to a Michael Burton comedy show and no two are ever alike.