LAS VEGAS — There are a few lures to the Palace Station Hotel & Casino, located just far enough from the Las Vegas Strip that you have to pay for a cab.
I mean, it’s dank, old, a little sketchy, and has more cigarettes going at once than a high-stakes bingo parlor. But the railroad-themed casino features $5 table games, including craps. That’s good. The cowboy bar has good service — bartender Chris was very friendly. Oh, and you can tell people you stayed at the same casino that O.J. Simpson got arrested at for that sports memorabilia robbery. It also hosts fun UFC parties. Vegas has a distinct lack of sports bars.
One thing in particular really made the Palace Station worth the trip: The Bonkerz Comedy Club. That’s where I met comedian Chris Edgerly.
Edgerly headlined a show one night, doing a routine of impersonations and funny observational bits. While his name might not be familiar yet, his work probably is. He was Nick Diamond on “Celebrity Deathmatch,” and he has voiced an unbelievable amount of video games including Alpha Protocol, G.I. Joe, Godfather II, Ninja Blade, Lord of the Rings Conquest, Mass Effect, Halo 3, Kingdom Hearts II, Final Fantasy XII, SWAT 4, Yakuza (with Eliza Dushku) and several dozen more.
He currently provides the voice talent for Peter Potamus on the Adult Swim animated series “Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law.”
Here are some questions and answers with Edgerly:
BLAST: How did you get your start in comedy? Why comedy?
Chris Edgerly: I was in college, October of ’90. A buddy told me about a group of comedians who did stand-up once a month at this local pizza place in the basement downstairs. I met with them that night, and the next night I was onstage in front of a packed house. It was exhilarating. I had been doing some acting as a drama minor at the university (UGA) but nothing could quite match the thrill of doing your own material in front of an audience.
BLAST: You’ve done a lot of voice acting “" what do you like about that side of entertainment?
CE: Two things about voice acting rule: One, you don’t have to worry about how you look or how old you are. It is egalitarian “" if you can do the job (and have a good agent that believes in you), you’ll get work. Two, it’s constantly changing, so you never get bored. I audition five days a week, and the scripts are incredibly varied, from video games with aliens and zombies, to commercials involving friendly announcer-type voices, to voice-matching a-list actors for movies to animation involving just about any kind of character you could imagine. This week I’m doing ADR (automated dialogue replacement) work to provide the English voice for a character in a Japanese anime series. It’s a constant challenge to my imagination to see what I can do with a script.
Blast: Comedy or acting, which would you rather be doing?
CE: Impossible to choose. On the one hand, it’s more fulfilling to perform in front of a live audience, especially when you write the material and have ultimate creative control over how it’s delivered. On the other hand, getting to read someone else’s words and interpret them can be a treat, not to mention some of the famous people I’ve gotten to work with over the past few years. And it pays a hell of a lot better, and I can sleep in my own bed and don’t have to be on the road half the year.
Blast: How often do you come out to Vegas to perform? Any plans for an East Coast (Boston?) jaunt?
CE: Haven’t done Vegas often. I don’t like to leave L.A. if i can help it since work never stops in the voice-over world. It would have to take a very special occasion to come to the East Coast, but if things click with the Men’s Club Comedy Tour (the current project I’ve been doing with my three buddies), anything could happen.
Blast: How would you classify your comedic style? I’m sorry to ask this cliche, but who are your influences?
CE: I don’t know how I would classify my style. Above all, I try to be entertaining without insulting the intelligence of the audience. I have a few voices, some wry observations, some longer, more monologist type bits sprinkled in there as well. I like to gently subvert the audience’s expectations of where a bit will go. Above all, it is about giving the audience a good time that stays with them afterward. I’ve been inspired by so many comedians in my life: Cosby and Pryor and Carlin and Rich Little as a kid, Jim Carrey (his physical comedy more than anything), Dennis Miller’s incredible way with words, Bill Maher’s ease with commentary, even Johnny Carson’s way with an audience “" the way he could take them anywhere he wanted to go, even when a joke didn’t work. How he could take them by the hand and lead them back whenever he chose. Contemporary comics “" Patton Oswalt (a great wordsmith and imagist), Dave Attell (gets you to love lechery), Todd Barry (nobody does wry like him) and Chris Rock (back in ’96, his HBO special “Bring the Pain” was the best I’d ever seen from a stand-up and still is, in my opinion.)
Blast: What does a comedian do when he’s not on stage? Are you always “on” or do you have people/friends that you can just be off/yourself around?
CE: When I’m not onstage I get up at the crack of 10 a.m., go to my agency and record my auditions, come home and surf the web for fun and ideas, get lunch, exercise, work on the act or anything creative I have on the docket for a little while, etc., spend time with my girlfriend, catch my favorite shows on TV, you name it.
Unexciting and yet highly pleasurable, because my life is my own. My schedule my own. It took years to get to that point but I’m enjoying the hell out of it. That’s probably why you wouldn’t suspect I was a comic if you met me away from a club. I’m not “on” very often . When I’m around my actor and comedian friends, sure. We’re all “on” in one way or another because we understand how we all think and the jokes come fast and furious. But otherwise I’ve been described by my “civilian” friends as laid back, philosophical and “" gasp “" mature. The opposite of the insecure kid that started years ago, thinking he had to make everyone laugh to prove to himself that he could do it as a career. You know, pretty textbook stuff.