Q&A: Brad Garrett
Brad Garrett’s comedy dreams have come true in Las Vegas. The 6-foot-8 actor and funnyman played his first Vegas gig in 1986 at the Desert Inn, opening for Crystal Gayle. He moved on to serve as the warm-up act for Liza Minnelli, Sammy Davis Jr., Julio Iglesias and Frank Sinatra, and he was working with the Righteous Brothers at MGM Grand when he landed a career-making role on the Everybody Loves Raymond. But at the top of the list of Garrett’s favorite Vegas moments was the opening of his own comedy club at MGM Grand in 2012. “I always wanted to one day have a club, to bring in not only the people I know but also up-and-coming comedians,” he says. Garrett returns to his Vegas headquarters this month (he appears Nov. 24-26), and editor-at-large Brock Radke caught up with him to talk about building it into a success and what’s up next on the horizon.
Brad Garrett’s Comedy Club has been at MGM Grand for more than five years now. Do you feel like your venue has become part of the fabric of the Strip’s comedy scene?
I think so. We’ve grown every year and I’m grateful for that. We’re at the best property as far as the property itself and the location, and I have a great history with MGM. It sounds like a cliché but they’re like family.
There aren’t as many true comedy clubs in Vegas as there used to be. Is it important to you to preserve the city’s comedy legacy and keep it relevant?
My heart is in that town. I think comedy is on a huge rise, and not only do we need the humor now more than ever considering where the world is at, but the clubs are coming back. As great as cable TV and (streaming channels) can be, there’s nothing like live comedy. And our venue is built for comedy as opposed to some other rooms. It looks the way I want it to look because we wanted to make it great for the comics and keep the audience happy.
What is the experience like for you these days when you come back to Vegas to play your own club?
I’m in town two weeks every month and I come out and host, do a little time up front before the other acts, but I really try to make it about the guys that are there that week. I really dig it. It’s always a lot of fun when the owner of the place pops in.
It must be a different world from your early days of touring, doing stand-up in Las Vegas and everywhere else.
I was really fortunate to get in at a good time in Las Vegas and it sparked a few other things for me, like getting on The Tonight Show. It’s a tough business but those early days, you can’t beat them, because you’re so hungry and desperate that every little step you make is so powerful and wonderful. I’m really lucky to have so many great (headlining) acts that were great to me. When I got the Raymond pilot, I was opening for the Righteous Brothers, and Bill Medley and I still talk and have dinner from time to time. This town has been great to me.
Your voice is so instantly recognizable. How did your role as the voice of Eeyore in next year’s Christopher Robin movie come to be?
It’s funny, it was a voice I did for television for Disney in the early ’90s, and then things got really busy because “Raymond” was just starting and couldn’t commit to the (voice) work. It’s a part I’ve always loved, and everyone loves those cartoons and books. There’s a lot of Eeyore in my voice already. They brought me in to read for this new, live-action Christopher Robin and it’s just a great cast. Ewan McGregor is (Christopher). It’s actually more than just animation and live-action combined, they’re taking the Winnie the Pooh characters and re-creating them to where they look like stuffed animals that have come to life. They were shooting in London but I was stuck in a studio in Burbank when it was 110 degrees.
That sounds like it could put you in the proper grumpy mood to play Eeyore.
Yes, and the fact that I was wearing a tail.