These days, actor and comedian Richard Belzer is best-known for playing a TV detective, but he is returning to his stand-up roots this Saturday night with a rock 'n roll comedy show on the Upper West Side. NY1's Arts reporter Stephanie Simon filed the following report.
Actor, comedian and author Richard Belzer is returning to his early days of musical impersonations, when he will be backed by a live rock band in his new show at Stage 72, "Richard Belzer's Rock & Roll & Comedy Extravaganza."
Asked how live musicians changes his performance, Belzer quips, "It makes me seem better."
Belzer's been doing impersonations since the 1970s, when he started out doing stand-up. He is still taking on favorites like Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan and Mick Jagger, but the moves have changed.
"I have two people hold me and shake me," Belzer jokes. "It's just the 'steel wheelchair tour.'"
As for his amazing run as Detective John Munch on TV's "Homicide: Life On The Street" and "Law And Order: SVU," Belzer has found an artistic partner in co-star Ice T.
"We both have the same philosophy for acting and when people ask us what we’re looking for in a script we say, 'days off,'" Belzer says. "He and I see that the crew is very happy because they know that we want to go home. We don't care how we look, we never say 'My character wouldn't do this' or 'I wouldn't say that.' Not slamming any other actors."
But for Belzer, nothing compares to the energy of being live onstage in the city.
"So it's like a party for me because I love New York and this is my neighborhood," he says.
It was Stage 72 co-owner Rick Newman who gave Belzer his start in 1973, when he hired him at his legendary comedy club Catch A Rising Star. Back then, heckling was also a new art form.
"In the old days, it was different, when stand-up was a very new, explosive thing. In the 1970s it was very raw. I'm sure that there are still hecklers but I'll doubt that there will be any on Saturday," Belzer says.
But if there are hecklers, Belzer knows how to deal with them.
"I'll just bury them. There will be a pile of dust on their chair and their date will have no one to go home with," he says.
Richard Belzer's Rock & Roll & Comedy Extravaganza