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Nave: ‘Pitbull of Comedy’ Slayton on isolation; was fired last time in Tahoe

Howie Nave
Special to the Tribune
Comedian/actor Bobby Slayton (left) with Howie Nave.
Provided

The last time I saw comedian/actor Bobby Slayton was 8 years ago at The Improv here in South Lake Tahoe.

It was also the last time Slayton worked up here in the room I was managing (and hosting) at the time because he got fired on a Friday night. Why? Well, would you believe it because of a very vocal heckler? Yes.

Apparently the heckler didn’t like Slayton’s choice of material. That’s right folks. Free speech was being censored long before this virus came along.

I remember like it was yesterday. I had to put on my manager hat and listen to this guy’s diatribe. What ticked me off was that he was familiar with Slayton’s act and knew beforehand what to expect. Why do these people continue to roam the earth?

Since he wasn’t going to get any satisfaction from me the heckler complained to the GM of Harrah’s/Harveys who buckled and Slayton was replaced the next night. In an act of good karma though, the GM of Harrah’s/Harveys was replaced a few years later.

Let me state this right up front: Slayton’s moniker has always been the ‘Pitbull of Comedy’ because of the edginess he displays in his act. He’s not the ‘Poodle of Comedy’ okay?

Slayton has a long relationship with Lake Tahoe.

“I got married in Tahoe. When my daughter was born I was working at Caesar’s, my anniversary was spent up here and the first band I opened for a musical act here in Tahoe,” he said. “It was Kenny Loggins so I have a lot of fond memories of Lake Tahoe.”

As an actor Slayton has appeared in a plethora of movies that include “Get Shorty,” “Ed Wood,” “Dreamgirls” and “Bandits.”

He’s been seen on dozens of television shows including “The Tonight Show,” “Politically Incorrect,” “Home Improvement” and Woody Allen’s Amazon TV project “Crisis in Six Scenes.”

On cable Slayton has made numerous appearances on HBO that have included, “Comic Relief” and his own Showtime special, “Born to be Bobby” where he borrowed one of my jokes and made it sound tighter. He was a series regular on the HBO series “Mind of the Married Man” and played Joey Bishop opposite Ray Liotta and Joe Mantegna in the critically acclaimed film, “The Rat Pack.”

Slayton’s distinctive gravelly voice has often been heard on animated shows like “Dr. Katz” and “Family Guy” as well as many popular radio shows including Howard Stern and regular appearances on SiriusXM. These credits represent only a fraction of all that he’s accomplished but easy for me to list as I was able to snag them from his management’s website page.

“I gotta tell ya Howie it’s really weird to be chatting with you and for the first time have nothing to plug” said Slayton.

He did finish shooting a guest appearance on the new season of HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and completed filming Woody Allen’s latest film, “Rifkin’s Festival” which doesn’t have a release date yet because of this pandemic.

“Woody flew me out just to read a couple of lines and hopefully they’ll release the film when all of this has finally ended” said Slayton who’s worked with Allen before. As a comedian Slayton has headlined clubs and theaters coast to coast but over time as the culture became more language police oriented, Slayton has had to temper his shows some, but then he wouldn’t be the “Pitbull” so he remained Slayton “as is.”

He had already planned to cut back on his stand up and with the arrival of COVID-19 just hastened the decision making process.

“If anything good is going to come out of this nightmare whenever it ends is that people are going to get their priorities straight and realize what’s important and not sweat the small stuff” said Slayton.

Man, that is so true and as much as we need that audience as a sort of affirmation, Slayton’s attitude seems almost nonchalant when it comes to doing something that gave him a steady career first as a comedian leading him into an equally successful acting career.

One thing is for certain he’s not one of those comedians that wants you to log on and watch his one man show ‘live’ from his living room.

“I’m not that kind of guy, I don’t really get that,” he said. “I know there’s comedians out there and I’m not gonna name any names but logging on and inviting you into their home and see what they’re family’s doing, making dinner, shaving in the morning, I don’t get it. I just don’t need the attention anymore. Don’t get me wrong if somebody called to give me a job I’m right there.”

Slayton is taking this time to finish his long overdue book that he started years ago tentatively titled “30 Years in Showbiz Hell” that he’s finally getting back into as he has some pretty amazing stories over his tenure.

Now that’s one book that will be a must read. I think Slayton’s gonna ride out this sheltered in place mandate okay.

“I’m fortunate that I saved enough to get me through this,” he said. “I mean, I can’t live off of it but I got a nice place, a girlfriend that lives minutes away so I can’t complain compared to what other people and comedians are going through.”

That’s when Slayton turned the interview around asking how I’ve been doing and how Tahoe is holding up.

I gave him the 411 and like everybody else really want this whole thing to just be done with. When I told him I felt fortunate being able to do my radio gig having my morning show classified as an essential business it didn’t take long for Slayton to turn it into one of his non-stop rants.

“Who would have thought that Howie Nave would be an essential anything? Whoever thought that? If somebody said to me 20 years ago that Trump is going to be president, or there’s going to be 10 more James Bond flicks or the Stones would still be together, Keith Richards would still be alive and Howie Nave is gonna be essential? Any of those things could have happened without the Howie thing. That’s going a bit too far.”


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