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Comedian Thomas Miles: No hang-ups about prank calls on 'Steve Harvey' show

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By William Loeffler
Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Comedian Thomas Miles had to reschedule an interview because a prank call he recorded for a nationally syndicated radio show "went awry," in the words of his press representative.

The news seemed ominous. Had he phoned Kim Jong Il, the nutso leader of North Korea, called him eight kinds of wussy and dared him to launch a missile at Hawaii?

It was nothing so dramatic as that. The recording simply took longer than anticipated.

Miles makes the prank calls for the "Steve Harvey Morning Show." That's where he got his moniker Nephew Tommy, being that Harvey, one of the original "Kings of Comedy," is his uncle.

"It takes hours to get a real good one," says Miles, who performs Thursday through Saturday at the Pittsburgh Improv in Homestead.

Listeners e-mail him with the names of friends, relatives or co-workers they'd like him to mess with.

Miles, a playwright and actor, majored in theater at Texas A&M University. His resume includes roles in "King Lear" and "Colored Museum" and the film "He Say ... She Say ... But What Does God Say?"

Actors operate on the same yearly schedule as schoolteachers, Miles says. A friend suggested he try stand-up comedy as a way of paying the rent during the summer months. He was cool to the suggestion, but changed his mind after he won an amateur-night competition in his native East Texas.

It was after he was finishing the run of one play when a crew member put him in contact with the production crew for Luther Vandross. The crooner viewed Miles' tapes and OK'd Miles as a sub for another comic who usually opened for his shows. Miles, grateful to spend a week opening for Vandross, was stunned when the singer asked him to stay on. Miles ended up touring for three years with Vandross here and in Europe.

Before opening night in London, he says he walked up and down the British capital with a notebook, trying to translate American jokes into something the Brits could relate to.

At the Improv, he says he'll talk about relationships, "The whole Obama thing" and maybe, just maybe, Michael Jackson.

But you have to tread lightly, he says.

"You can try to talk about this Michael Jackson thing," he says. "You've got to be sensitive to it, and it cannot be against Michael in any form or fashion."

He says he might target Jackson's father, Joe, for appearing more interested in promoting his new record company than mourning the loss of a son.

"I've got plenty to discuss," he says. "I do characters here and there. It's what I call standing and delivering. I come, I stand and I deliver."

Additional Information:

Thomas Miles

When: 8 p.m. Thursday, 8 and 10 p.m. Friday, 7 and 9 p.m. Saturday

Where: Pittsburgh Improv, Waterfront, Homestead

Admission: $25

Details: 412-462-5233

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