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Bruce Bruce Biography - Selected works

comedy bet atlanta comedian

Comedian

19??–

All comedians want to be funny, but few can be described as truly hilarious. Bruce Bruce can claim the elusive ability to make audiences break into laughter not only during his performances, but also for hours afterwards as they recall the things he says. Bruce is irreverent and lovable at the same time, with a girth to match his huge personality and stage presence. Bruce arrived on the comedy scene with a natural talent that eventually garnered the highest ratings ever as host for Black Entertainment Television (BET) on its tenth anniversary Comic View program. He is so good at comedy he makes it look effortless. With a passion for his craft, he infects his fans with laughter, leaving them wanting more.

Bruce Church was born in Atlanta, Georgia, but the date of his birth is a closely guarded secret. Bruce always knew he was funny, but he and his family never thought of it as something he could do professionally to make a living. "That's why we have to start paying attention to our kids," Bruce said in an interview with Tavis Smiley on National Public Radio (NPR). Bruce developed his comedy skills as he watched his uncles. They also had the ability to keep the family in stitches. Bruce would joke about them around the house and emulate them and the comedians he saw on television.

Prior to his comedy circuit debut, Bruce worked as a barbeque chef for several years. He grilled rib bones as he tickled the funny bones of his customers. Next he worked for Frito-Lay, selling their products, stocking shelves, and performing at corporate meetings. He told Smiley that he "ate as much as he sold," but people laughed the whole time. During that period Bruce met a man at work that he once though to be racist. The man called Bruce into his office one day and urged him to try his comedy on stage. He had listened to Bruce's jokes for some time and was convinced Bruce could use his talents for profit. Bruce followed the man's advice and, from the first time he stepped on stage, he realized that comedy was the path his life should take.

In the early 1990s, Bruce landed a regular gig performing in Atlanta at the Comedy Act Theater. It was during this time that he caught the eye of talent scouts at BET. BET's Coast to Coast program's search for comedy talent found Bruce as he auditioned several times at various venues around Atlanta. He was determined to get the show's attention and make the cut. BET took notice and televised three of his routines. His next break came when he won a spot on HBO's popular Def Comedy Jam television show in 1992, a solid sign that his star was rising in the business of comedy. In 1994 Bruce appeared on Showtime at the Apollo, hosted by comedian Steve Harvey. Bruce was now appearing with big names in the business. His performance earned him two more invitations to return in 1995. At the same time his appearances on the comedy club circuit multiplied.

Bruce, who is sometimes referred to as the "mayor of comedy," cites Milton Berle, Rodney Dangerfield, Flip Wilson, and Cedric the Entertainer among his personal favorites. Describing his own style as "old-school" comedy, Bruce's honest humor and improvisational style have earned him lots of fans. Bruce's over-the-top ratings for his performance as host of BET's tenth anniversary Comic View show in 2001 scored him a return engagement to host the same show in 2002. His talent appeals to many. Although he can keep his comedy clean, eliminating profanity, and still make his audience laugh, Bruce is equally skilled at delivering adult humor. He just doesn't believe a comedian has to be risqué to be funny.

Bruce's talents have led him to work in television, music videos, and the movies. In 1996 he appeared in Quad City DJ's "Come On Ride the Train" music video. In 2001 he played the part of DeWayne, a rent-a-cop, in the feature film The Wash, alongside Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre. The story follows the antics of a guy who gets a job washing cars to pay the rent and get the boot off his car. In 2003, Comedy Central showcased his talents on its Comedy Central Presents: Bruce Bruce Show. During that same year, he made the video Bruce Bruce Live and appeared with the popular singing group, OutKast, in their video So Fresh, So Clean. It was a very successful year for Bruce. He also played the role of Pastor Gregory in The Sunday Morning Stripper, a movie about a financially strapped church that finds unconventional ways to raise funds, and he performed in the Latham Entertainment Presents video. In 2004 Bruce played the role of Lime Pimp in the movie Hair Show, and the role of Maurice in xXx: State of the Union in 2005 with Willem Dafoe and Ice Cube.

Bruce is multi-dimensional and, as his popularity grows, he seems to appear just about everywhere. He took his live comedy to the Laffapalooza Festival in Atlanta from 1999–2002, the Black Film Festival in Acapulco in 2001, the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen in 2002, and the Just For Laughs Festival in Montreal in both 2002 and 2003. Bruce continues to travel the comedy circuit with a multi-state tour in 2005, including a stop at Chicago's Arie Crown Theater. Well aware of his popularity, Popeye's Chicken tapped Bruce for its Popeye's Naked Chicken commercial and the group Ying Yang Twins sang about Bruce in their hit song "Salt Shaker." Bruce should be laughing louder than any of his fans … all the way to the bank. His autobiography, Baby James Brown, was published in 2005, detailing his life and dispensing hilarious observations about it. In addition he began a job as the regular host of a new show, BET's Coming to the Stage, in 2005. Bruce also designs clothing. A dapper dresser, Bruce creates his own wardrobe, from his suits to his shoes. In 2004, Bruce revealed the compassionate side of his personality by asking his audiences to donate teddy bears for later distribution at a children's hospital. The ladies in his audience loved it, and he doesn't appear to be going away any time soon.

Selected works

Books

Baby James Brown, Chamberlain Bros., 2005.

Films

The Wash, 2001.
The Sunday Morning Stripper, 2003.
Hair Show, 2004.
xXx: State of the Union, 2005.

Videos

Bruce Bruce Live, 2003.
Latham Entertainment Presents, 2003.
So Fresh, So Clean, 2003.
Bruce Bruce Platinum Comedy Series, 2005.

At a Glance …

Born Bruce Church in Atlanta, GA.

Career: Barbeque chef, early 1980s; Frito-Lay, Atlanta, GA, salesman, late 1980s; Comedy Act Theater, Atlanta, GA, comedian, early 1990s; stand-up comedian, 1992–.

Addresses: Agent—Thruline Entertainment, 9250 Wilshire Boulevard, Ground Floor, Beverly Hills, CA 90212. Web—www.bruce-bruce.com.

Sources

On-line

Amber, Dave, "Almighty Bruce: BET Comedian Hits the Improv," New Times, www.newtimesbpb.com/Issues/2005-08-04/calendar/nightday.html (September 15, 2005).

Bruce Bruce, www.bruce-bruce.com/ (September 19, 2005).

"Bruce Bruce," BET, www.bet.com/BETShows/Bruce+Bruce.htm (September 29, 2005).

"Bruce Bruce Videos," Fatt Videos, www.fattvideos.com/videos_and_dvds_by/32486/BRUCE_BRUCE (September 26, 2005).

"Friday Comedy: Bruce Bruce," NPR, www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4110794 (September 26, 2005).

Loeffler, William, "Comedian Bruce Finds Humor in Everyday Life," Pittsburgh Live, www.pittsburghlive.com/x/tribune-review/entertainment/s_93410.html (September 15, 2005).

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