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COMEDY : ALL THE RIGHT MOVES : Bobby Collins Is Learning How to Keep His Star Rising and His Standards High

August 04, 1994|GLENN DOGGRELL | Glenn Doggrell writes about comedy for The Times Orange County Edition.

Julio came calling. The Certs people came back. And the ratings came up two points. Comedian Bobby Collins is having a pretty good year. The kind of year, in fact, that many entertainers would consider a career year. So will such success spoil the New York native?

Not if a recent phone interview from his Santa Monica home is any indication. He remains down to earth, personable and highly professional and loves to flap.

"My career has been on a steady incline. I'd rather take my time and be there for a long time," he said, pausing a moment. "But you have to have a good time getting there. It's the journey, not the destination. You can afford to say no. It doesn't begin and end with Hollywood."

Collins admits, however, that it's tempting to grab the first sitcom or talk show that comes along. He has turned down two sitcom ideas and is looking at two more. But he's seen snap decisions go sour too many times; for every Jerry Seinfeld and Tim Allen, he points out, there are legions of now nameless relics.

"These other guys go big and then you never hear from them again."

Collins credits opening for Cher and Frank Sinatra and especially this summer's world tour with Julio Iglesias with showing him how to keep his career moving and his standards high.

"Work with the best and you learn. (Julio's) taught me to be a star. It's really an honor. This guy is like Mr. International. And the women love him. I don't understand a word he says, but he's putting my kids through college. He has 11 people on his security force, but he's like a guy me and you would hang out with. He took me on his jet."

Tour stops include London, Dublin, Montreal, Belgium and Australia. Collins, however, only opens at the English-speaking venues.

"Eighty-nine down, 33 to go," he said. "In between, I have to go back to the comedy clubs to work on new material."

Consequently, Collins will visit Fullerton's Standing Room Only on Friday and Saturday. "I'm kind of nervous. I'll be breaking in some new stuff. We have to talk about O.J., my new baby, Clinton, soccer, summertime."

Collins landed the Iglesias gig when the global pop star saw the comic on VH-1's "Stand-Up Spotlight," which he started hosting in January, after Rosie O'Donnell's 3 1/2 years in the slot.

"I told her, 'It has nothing to do with me. I think they just needed a new host,' " Collins said, referring to the two-point popularity hike. He quickly added, though, that they're good friends and he can say things like that. "I'm real happy with VH-1. I'm proud of it. Whether it's me or not, it's doing real well."

Other chores he has tackled at VH-1 included being host of "Top 21 Countdown" and the "VH-1/Cystic Fibrosis Annual Celebrity Ski Special." On Showtime he co-starred with Margaret Cho in "A Pair of Jokers," and additional TV credits include parts on NBC's "L.A. Law" and "Sisters" as well as Fox's "Herman's Head."

His recent film work includes appearances in "Hero" and "Indecent Proposal."

Tucked into all this is an upcoming photo spread in GQ magazine.

"It's coming out in September. I got it because I got voted a good dresser in US magazine. It's four pages. To me, I should've gotten 10," he said, laughing again.

Not bad for someone who was hardly a household face until he took his bad breath national a couple of years ago. And now, the Certs people are back with another ad campaign idea, which can only mean more recognition for the performer already widely known as "The Certs Guy."

Collins, 39, accepts that the ads launched his popularity, and says thanks for good fortune's many flavors, especially spearmint and wintergreen. Certs has been very, very good to him.

But his success as a breath-mints pitchman is by no means the engine for his career. His comedy provides that power. And Collins has no illusions about himself, labeling himself a glorified teller of tales.

"I'm a guy who can tell a story and add the salt, pepper and paprika to make it interesting and fun to laugh at because it's all true. It's funny. It's the simple things. My dog bought me a new house," Collins said, launching into one of his more popular bits.

"Hey, Bobby, can I have some salsa?"

"You like that stuff?"

"I love that stuff."

"Well, I'll give you some because I love you ."

The 12-year stand-up veteran pauses.

"I didn't know that if you give a dog salsa, its butt shoots across a room."

But despite the success and recognition, The Certs Guy does harbor one little beef.

"Why can't I be known as the Large-Loins Guy?"

* Who: Bobby Collins.

* When: Friday and Saturday, Aug. 5 and 6. One show only at 8 p.m. each night. (Robert Dubac performs in the 10:15 slot.

* Where: Standing Room Only, 126 W. Orangethorpe Ave., Fullerton.

* Whereabouts: From the Riverside (91) Freeway, take Harbor Boulevard north, turn left onto Orangethorpe and left again into the first driveway at the Fullerton Metro Center. The club is on the left.

* Wherewithal: $10 Friday and $12 Saturday, with a two-item minimum both nights.

* Where to call: (714) 870-4400.

MORE COMEDY

IN IRVINE: CRAIG SHOEMAKER

With a new CD out on a major label, Craig Shoemaker and "The Love Master" are making their way up the comedy ladder. The Philadelphia native and his womanizing alter ego headline at the Irvine Improv from Friday, Aug. 5, through Sunday, Aug. 7. (714) 854-5455.

IN FULLERTON: ROBERT DUBAC

Dubac and his splendid one-man show, "The Male Intellect (an Oxymoron)," are at Fullerton's Standing Room Only tonight, Aug. 4, through Sunday, Aug. 7, and again Aug. 11 through Aug. 14. (714) 870-4400.

IN HUNTINGTON BEACH: EVAN DAVIS

The popular Improv headliner who once noted, "I do love how they handle the traffic shootings in L.A. . . . a seven-day waiting period to get on the freeway," heads to the Centerfield Sports Bar on Tuesday, Aug. 9. (714) 848-0113.

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