Catasauqua Press

Tuesday, September 25, 2018
CONTRIBUTED PHOTOBobby Collins, 7:30 p.m. Jan. 12, State Theatre Center for the Arts, Easton. CONTRIBUTED PHOTOBobby Collins, 7:30 p.m. Jan. 12, State Theatre Center for the Arts, Easton.

Bobby Collins: bi-partisan laughs return to Easton’s State Theatre

Thursday, January 11, 2018 by DEB BOYLAN Special to The Press in Focus

Bobby Collins may be one of America’s favorite comedians. He’s performed his stand-up before the Clintons at the White House for Chelsea Clinton’s birthday in 1999 and appeared in front of guests at President Donald Trump’s Mar-A-Lago Winter White House, Palm Beach, Fla., in early 2017.

He’s played rooms in the deepest of red states as well as liberal enclaves in blue states and has proven that well-crafted observational humor results in bi-partisan laughs.

His relatable musings on family, politics and everyday quandaries have made him a sought-after performer at theaters, casinos, resorts and comedy clubs nationwide.

Bobby Collins returns to one of his favorite venues, the State Theatre Center for the Arts, Easton, 7:30 p.m. Jan. 12.

Collins has performed at the State Theatre so often he’s lost exact count. “I’ve been coming there maybe about 10 to 14 years,” he says during a phone interview. “It’s a great theater and it’s one of the best-looking theaters.

“I said to Shelley Brown [President and CEO, State Theatre] ... I said, ‘Shell, do you mind if I have a crew come in and tape?’

“She said, ‘No, in fact we’d love it.’

“And she dressed up that theater for us. That was so nice of her,” he adds.

That 2015 taping of his performance at the State Theatre became his most recent DVD, “Bobby Collins: Live from The State Theatre.”

“She’s a great lady,” Collins says of Brown. “She really is.

“She’s always worried about me getting calls [from competing Lehigh Valley venues].”

Brown need not be concerned about Collins straying anytime in the foreseeable future.

“I go [to Brown], ‘Don’t worry. I’m pretty loyal. I’m a good guy.’

“I love that little town [Easton]. They live good [in the Lehigh Valley].”

In 2017, Collins was keynote speaker and performer at LifePath’s 20th annual Thanksgiving Benefit and Awards Luncheon. LifePath is a Lehigh Valley nonprofit that provides specialized care to more than 1,400 persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

“They [LifePath] asked me to come in to perform, and Shelley was there, and she [takes me aside]. She goes, ’Bobby, please mention that you are going to be at The State Theatre,’” he laughs.

“I made sure I did.

“It was so much fun,” he says of the LifePath event.

As a parent of a young adult with special needs, an organization such as LifePath is close to Collins’ heart.

His 23-year-old daughter, Madison, suffers from a rare and unknown ring chromosome condition that has left her non-verbal and low-functioning since birth.

“My daughter has never said a word, but to me she speaks volumes. I must be pretty special if God gave her to me.”

One hundred percent of the proceeds from Bobby Collins’ merchandise sales goes to the charitable organization, Zeno Mountain Farm, in Vermont.

Zeno Mountain Farm is a month-long camp that his daughter attends each year. The camp, which relies solely on donations and volunteers, enables persons with special needs to enjoy summertime activities at no charge in a supportive group setting.

When the topic of politics and playing for different crowds whose leanings may be at odds with one another or even his own, Collins explains, “We [comedians] kind of break the rules and see it the way it is.

“I performed at Mar-A-Lago last year and I was there last March [2017] and I’ll be back May 3. I’ve known Donald Trump for 18 years. He’s a big fan of mine.” That endorsement from the President Trump doesn’t necessarily imply the feeling is mutual.

“I’ve met many politicians. I performed at the White House for the Clintons. I was Chelsea Clinton’s favorite comedian and her father [former President Bill Clinton] loves me.

“True story: When I saw him [Donald Trump] last time at Mar-A-Lago, he came over to me with all his boys including [former speaker of the house Sean] Spicer and he goes, ‘Bobby, it was a great show.’

“He [then] looked at me and he said, ‘Can I ask you something?’ And I said, ‘Sure, Mr. President.’ And he said, ‘Did you vote for me?’

“Remember, I’m a comic. I can’t lie so I said, ‘I would rather have voted for EL Chapo.’ And all his people around him, all his boys, cracked up,” Collins laughs as he recounts the anecdote.

“He gave me that look like, ‘I know you didn’t [expletive] vote for me.’

“I show both sides. I believe you entertain and you educate. They’ll swallow a different opinion very easily if they’re laughing. My audiences are pretty sharp.”

Speaking of audiences, Collins wants folks attending his show at The State Theatre to plan on spending an enjoyable night out.

“Put your worries, put your hassles, put them all aside. Come out and just let yourself be free. Let’s just talk and have some fun.

“We’re going to go in a lot of different directions, but trust me, I’ll bring you safely back to your seat. On the way home, you’ll be repeating some of the things you heard.”

Tickets: State Theatre Center for the Arts box office, 453 Northampton St., Easton; statetheatre.org; 1-800-999-7828; 610-252-3132