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'Midlife Crisis' tour looks at the funny side of 40-plus

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By William Loeffler
Thursday, April 21, 2005

Touring comedy quartets have reaped yuks and bucks for comics who join forces to quadruple-team their core audiences.

Jeff Foxworthy recruited three of his bubba buddies for the Blue Collar Comedy Tour, which drew Wal-Mart shoppers to the Benedum in 2003. Spike Lee played to his black urban audience with the 2000 film "The Original Kings of Comedy" starring a foursome of "old-school" comics that included Bernie Mac and Cedric the Entertainer.

Local comic Buzz Nutley thought there was one demographic that was overlooked -- the middle-age market -- that sagging mid-section of the American public who obsess over mortgages and marriage, mini-vans and mortality.

That includes himself.

"I'm going bald," he says. "I thought I'd shave my head because I thought I looked like Vin Diesel. Instead I looked like a thumb with eyeballs."

Rather than buy a sports car, Nutley, 41, conceived the Midlife Crisis Comedy Tour. He recruited fellow comics Jim Brogan, Brad Upton and Cathy Ladman, all on the far side of 40. Together, as Nutley likes to point out, they have a combined age of 164.

Each of the comics will perform a 30-minute set in the tour, which plays Western Pennsylvania this week and moves on to play dates in Illinois and Colorado.

Nutley, 41, has opened for Louie Anderson, Mitch Hedberg and "Saturday Night Live's" Darrell Hammond. He conceived the Midlife Crisis Comedy Tour partly because he thinks it's time middle-age people had their own comedians. Plus, he's fed up with age-obsessed society and how even comics find themselves under pressure to play "young."

"The point is, I got tired of trying to be 18 for the rest of my life," Nutley says. "I want to talk about things that affect me now that are funny."

Brogan, who will deliver the middle-age single guy's point of view, wrote for nine years for his friend Jay Leno on "The Tonight Show." He and Nutley met when the two wrote for Yakov's Smirnoff's Broadway show, "As Long As We Both Shall Laugh" in 2003.

"The clubs generally cater to a younger audience," Brogan says. "It's cruder. This is a pretty classy show overall.

"I'll probably involve the audience a lot and ask 'Who has good job and bad jobs?' And relationships, too, who's happy and who's unhappy. Maybe they'll learn something from me and probably I'll learn something."

It's cheaper than buying a sports car.

"A friend of mine compared standup to therapy, because you stand up and talk about yourself," Brogan says. "But in standup, you never get better." Additional Information:


Midlife Crisis Comedy Tour

When: 8 p.m. Friday, Days Inn, 139 Pittsburgh St., Butler; 8 p.m. Saturday, Pitzer's Townhouse Gator's Lounge, 101 S. 5th St., Jeanette; 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Jimmy G's, 1822 Main St., Sharpsburg.

Admission: $20

Details: (412) 323-1919 or

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