At his job, as he was working his way through college, Bob was supposed to call a client about a problem with a telephone book ad he was working on. As a joke for his fellow employees, Bob was to make the call as one of his many wacky characters he pretends to be. As all of Bob's co-workers sat around a speaker phone in the office, the party at the other end of the line answered. Bob began his crazy dialogue. The person at the other end had no idea what Bob was talking about but laughed and egged him on. It turned out that it was the wrong telephone number. Coincidentally, it happened to be a man who was just opening up a new comedy club in Bob's hometown of Massapequa, Long Island. Bob was invited to audition at the new club's opening night and, in the process, launched a new career.
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Bob did not grow up with the desire to be in show business. He did, however, enjoy making people laugh. It had always been part of his personality. He would sometimes spend hours setting up a situation that he could manipulate into a comic routine. It was always a requirement by his own standards to create from a perspective of originality. Bob's inner being had always been drawn to any and all performance arts. So much so, that while being a communications major at Nassau Community College, all he had to do was walk past the theatre department to change his major to theatre.
Bob started performing in comedy clubs in 1978. Bob auditioned for Showtime's Big Laugh-Off" in 1980. He was the only comedian who was not sponsored by any club (He had to go through the auditions that were open to the public) and still made it to the finals. In fact, he came in fifth out of hundreds of comedians.
While performing at Catch-a-Rising Star in New York City, he was seen by the talent coordinator for the "Merv Griffin Show" and appeared one week later as a guest. Merv enjoyed Bob immensely and had him appear on his show regularly. He soon landed a job as the host of "Double Muppets Hold the Onions", a children's television show in Philadelphia, and received an EMMY AWARD from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences as "Best Actor" in 1983 for his performances.
It was not long before he was seen by Rodney Dangerfield at "Dangerfields" in N.Y.C. Rodney was impressed by Bob's unique approach to comedy and because he was so different from all the other up-and-coming comedians he had seen, Rodney asked Bob to become his opening act for a future performance. Rodney also chose Bob to perform his "classic" football routine on HBO's "Ninth Annual Young Comedians" special hosted by Rodney. Bob impacted the show so much Rodney decided to take Bob on tour with him.
Bob has appeared in such prestigious concert halls as Radio City Music Hall, Carnegie Hall, and Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas. He also appeared on Broadway at the Mark Hellinger Theatre, as a special guest with Rodney Dangerfield. Bob performed his "Jiffy Jeff" boxing routine on Rodney's second HBO special "It Ain't Easy Being Me" Bob then went on to star in his own HBO "One Night Stand" special and then his unique one hour HBO special which he produced and starred in, "Nelson Schmelson".
Bob was honored to perform for President Reagan and the First Lady in a command performance: "The Stars Salute the President" at the Ford Theatre in Washington, D.C. He has performed his football routine at numerous N.F.L. functions, including several Superbowl Parties.
Because of the physical and theatrical qualities in his act, Bob always questioned being categorized as a stand-up comedian. After spending time with Red Skelton in Las Vegas, Red clarified Bob's artistic expression by telling him; "You're not a comedian , you're a CLOWN like me!" Bob is now at peace with his God-given talent.
Bob has recently taken another turn in his career by showing up in some feature films. He appears in "Kindergarten Cop" starring Arnold Schwartzenagger and in Nora Ephron's movie, "This is My Life" starring Julie Kavner and Dan Akroyd. The 1992 film "Brain Donors", starred John Turturro, Bob Nelson, and Mel Smith. Bob has also appeared on numerous commercials, including a national commercial with Coca-Cola, which is scheduled to be released soon.
Bob has appeared on many television comedy shows and has appeared on "The Tonight Show" with Johnny Carson several times. Following one performance on "The Tonight Show", Carson remarked: "You can't laugh any harder in five or six minutes than you did at that guy ... Bob Nelson!"
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