In the tradition of comedians who have successfully made the transition from the stage to the screen, Guy Torry has made the leap from standup to comedic actor with great success.
This week, Torry will be showing off his standup talents when he takes the stage at the Helium Comedy Club, 2031 Sansom St., from Thursday through Sunday.
Raised in St. Louis, Torry acknowledges a penchant to always be the class clown.
“Hearing people laugh at my antics and having their attention on me was what made me decide to follow the path I did,” explained the comedian who turns 48 on Jan. 12.
So after a stint at Southeast Missouri State College, he decided to follow his older brother — comedian and actor Joe Torry — out to California and make his own mark in comedy, television and films.
Once there, he started performing at comedy clubs in Los Angeles while working at odd jobs. Staying focused, he won his first comedy competition while competing with seasoned pros after only six months of doing comedy.
“But my first real big break came when I did the Def Comedy Jam Tour, a show that had inspired me. And I played to sold-out audiences everywhere,” he recalled.
“Soon after, when Martin Lawrence stepped down from his hit show ‘Martin’ — the other show that inspired me — and my brother, Joe, was named the show’s new host. I got the green light to do my standup on TV. Talk about big breaks.”
Soon his work was gaining national attention, and he created, produced and hosted “Phat Comedy Tuesdays” at the world famous Comedy Store in Los Angeles, a feature to showcase up-and-coming Black talent. The show was a hit and lasted 10 years.
Torry’s acting career also flourished as he went on to star in many television shows while also making big-screen appearances. All of this attracted the attention of “The Kings of Comedy” creator Walter Latham, who hired Torry to host the original tour.
Torry has also done his share of writing and says his comedy comes from real life.
“But changes in my outlook and the kinds of things I speak about come from changes I go through as I grow as a person. I also try to make my work act as a champion for women and cheering on the underdog. Today, I have no filter, so I just say what I’m gonna say and that’s it,” the comic said.
He insists that making people laugh is a natural gift.
“You can teach others technique but not how to be funny. It’s just something you’re born with,” Torry said. “And my personality, as it is with most comedians I think, is craving approval, the need to be recognized, and awarded accolades. I think we all have a dark side and we do comedy to bring light into that dark side.”
Still, he says, he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“With all that I do, standup is the thing I’m most faithful to. It’s the hub of my existence and everything else is tied to it,” Torry explained. “Acting is challenging but it’s all about giving life to somebody else’s work. Whereas with comedy I’m the writer, the performer, the director and the creator. It’s all me and I love every minute I’m on stage.”
For more information, call (215) 496-9001.