‘Nephew Tommy’ makes Toledo debutWritten by Jeff McGinnis | | firstname.lastname@example.org
When comedian Tommy Miles makes his trip to Fat Fish Blue in Perrysburg from Dec. 28-30, it may be his first appearance in the Toledo area, but it is safe to say his reputation precedes him.
Fans of Steve Harvey’s nationally syndicated morning radio show know him well as co-host “Nephew Tommy.” It’s clear he doesn’t resent the ever-present connection to his famous uncle or his role on the show. Heck, he even refers to himself as Nephew Tommy.
“I have a built-in audience now, because they’re hearing me every morning on the radio,” Miles said in an interview with Toledo Free Press Star. “Radio is very helpful for stand-up, because I’m on the radio Monday through Friday every morning for four hours. And there is no script — what Steve and I do every morning is not scripted. We’re just two crazy knuckleheads talking smack and we got people cracking up on the way to work in the morning.”
Even as he begins to make strides in the entertainment world outside of his role on the radio show, Tommy acknowledges that there’s always that unspoken association with Uncle Steve. “You’re gonna always get a comparison. That’s normal,” he said. “You’re gonna always get ‘You’re better than him,’ or ‘He’s better than you,’ or ‘You guys are similar.’ You’re gonna always get that. So I try my best to always have my own set of fingerprints, my own identity, and you see us differently.”
Tommy’s own path in comedy began in the early 1990s, spurred on by a college dare. “I started out doing theater, theater was my major in school. And jumping into the stand-up game was actually a bet with some friends, saying ‘Hey, why don’t you go to this amateur night?’ This was back in the early ’90s. And I said, ‘I don’t do stand-up, I’m an actor. That’s not what I do.’ And I go out and try my hand at it, and won this amateur night down in Houston, Texas. And from that point on, 1990, I’ve been telling jokes.”
His onstage persona and confidence grew by leaps and bounds, along with his abilities as a headliner. “When I first started, I just wanted to be able to do three to five minutes, and be funny for three to five minutes. And that was a task when you’re first starting out — trying to get the rhythm of it, get your punch lines and make sure they’re powerful enough.
“And to try to master five minutes, that was the thing back then. Now it’s evolved to doing well over an hour,” Tommy said. “So I’ve come a long way. I’m more relaxed onstage; I’m comfortable. It’s like a way of life now. I’m just up there having fun at this point.”
Tommy gives a great deal of the credit for his stand-up ability to his collegiate theatrical training. “You can rest assured, at least twice or maybe even three times a year we were gonna be doing a Shakespearean play. So you had to have a dedication to the craft, you had to have a dedication to the character that you were gonna be doing. If you weren’t in the show, if you were a stage manager, if you were in wardrobe, if you were in lighting — whatever you were doing, you had to be committed to it.
“Fortunately, I was a pretty good talent, and I was always onstage. So if you bring your form to prank calls, bringing it to radio, bringing it to stand-up — it all goes back to the training block of where I come from.”
Miles will be getting the chance to stretch those theatrical muscles a bit in the months to come — beginning in February he’ll be touring in a production of the play “Finding First Lady” that he will produce, direct and star in. He also has roles in a few feature films coming up, including a part in “Baggage Claim” with “Precious” star Paula Patton.
“And my uncle has got some surprises for me that he’s been trying to network for me, since he’s gotten into the television world, so we’ll see what he comes up with. But I think that my future looks good.”
Email columnist Jeff McGinnis at PopGoesJeff@gmail.com.