In the overpopulated and often uninspiring world of stand-up comedy, Anthony Clark distinguishes himself from the comic masses.
With infectious enthusiasm, an engaging Southern accent and boyish charm, Clark effortlessly develops an amiable rapport with his audience as soon as he takes the stage. Clark sometimes even laughs at his own jokes, apologizing profusely and easily winning the forgiveness of the crowd.
Clark cannot help but laugh as he shares with his audience "a good way to freak somebody out" in a suburban laundromat. Sprinkling soda water on his face to simulate nervous perspiration and biting his nails viciously, Clark asks, "How are you guys at getting blood out of things? No, I mean a lot of blood. I can get it off the wall and all..."
The audience laughs uproariously, Clark smiles and buries his head in his hands. Early in his act Clark closes the distance between entertainer and entertained.
Hailing from Lynchburg, Virginia, Clark now spends five to six months of the year in Boston, where he has built a tremendous following through numerous regular appearances at local comedy clubs. He divides the rest of his time between highly successful tours of college campuses and his promising acting career.
Clark began showcasing his comedic talents while studying acting at Boston's Emerson College, alma mater of fellow comedians Steven Wright and Jay Leno.
After graduating in 1986, Clark won the American Collegiate Talent Showcase and was named the best college comedian in America. The next year Clark reached the finals of another prestigious comedy competition, the WBCN/Stitches Comedy Riot.
These impressive achievements earned Clark his own show at the now-defunct comedy club Play It Again Sam's as well as headlining appearances at the major comedy clubs of Boston. Clark's success is particularly remarkable considering the number of aspiring stand up comics in the area.
"The Boston market is very competitive," he says, "but that's what makes it one of the best. When you can do it here, you're ready for New York and then Los Angeles."
Paul Barclay, owner of the Comedy Connection clubs, considers Clark one of the best and most likeable comics around.
"The kid's magic," says Barclay. "He's so personable and friendly. There's very few people who have the charisma of Tony doing what he's doing."
"Anthony gets a good response from the crowd," says Frank Ahearn, manager of the Comedy Connection at Faneuil Hall. "People like him. They take to him right away."
According to Ahearn, Clark is well-liked andrespected on the professional level as well.Unlike other standup comics, "Anthony doesn't havea bad attitude or big ego."
In addition to extensive club performances,Clark has also appeared on many cable comedyprograms, including Showtime specials and A&E'sAn Evening at the Improv. Perhaps the mostsignificant in terms of his current success andcareer direction have been his four appearances onMTV's Half-Hour Comedy Hour.
"MTV made me very recognizable," Clark says,"especially to college markets."