I first became aware on Greg Fitzsimmons in the early 90s. Greg was probably close to a decade into his stand-up career at that point. Growing up in New York then honing his craft in Boston, Fitzsimmons had a certain edge that was a bit sharper and more biting than comics without that blend of background. Or maybe it’s just because he’s Irish.
Fitzsimmons, an Emmy-winning television writer whose appearances on The Howard Stern Show are classic, showcases these skills brilliantly on his weekly podcast, The Greg Fitzsimmons show. I only mention that because it is a must-listen and I can pretty much say whatever I want to here.
Back to the topic at hand. Fitzsimmons’ first one-hour Comedy Central special, Life on Stage, aired last night. And it was funny as hell. The title seems self-explanatory. It is Greg talking about life from cradle to the grave. Only in the mind of Fitzsimmons, the grave begins around age two. Look at the baby becomes look at that baby in the blink of an eye.
If you had any notion that this point of view would change when Fitzsimmons became a parent, disabuse yourself of that immediately. Greg’s first thought was ‘why is that baby cock-blocking Daddy with the constant breast-feeding.” Greg knows the scam and calls bullshit. On the baby.
Calling bullshit is what Fitzsimmons does best. Even though he comes from a solidly middle-class family, Greg’s ability to relate to average Joe and describe the American condition through those eyes is nothing short of amazing. Fitzsimmons is simultaneously the antagonist and protagonist of life. His message is that life if great, except when it sucks, and vice versa.
I would describe Fitzsimmons as “gleefully miserable.” He is the politician who never wins an election because he can’t stop telling the truth. My favorite quote from the special is this: “Life stops caring about you a little less every second you are alive.” You can’t put that shit on a bumper sticker.
Of course I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Fitzsimmons’s inner sweetness. How can a person I just described as “gleefully miserable” also be sweet? That’s just Greg Fitzsimmons. Under the façade lurks this wonderful guy who cares, about his family, about his country, and about humanity. This is why he puts his life on stage. Because he cares. Or maybe it’s just because he’s Irish.