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Rob Bartlett and the Bartlettes at The Maryland Theatre

April 21, 1999

Rob Bartlett & the BartlettsBy KATE COLEMAN / Staff Writer




Rob Bartlett called on his car phone to be interviewed last Friday - five or six times. The connection was not good - lots of static and crackling.

"The switchboard operator thinks I'm stalking you," he said.

[cont. from lifestyle]

Bartlett had just finished an "Imus in the Morning" broadcast from Mohegan Sun casino in Uncasville, Conn., and was driving back to New York. The show is heard locally on WARK and WARX and seen on cable television's MSNBC from 6 to 10 a.m. Mondays through Fridays.

I-man and crew will broadcast from The Maryland Theatre from 6 to 10 a.m., Friday, April 23.

At 8 p.m. Saturday, April 24, Rob Bartlett and The Bartlettes will bring their show to The Maryland Theatre stage.

They've been here before - in September 1997.

"I love Hagerstown. I love Gene Manning," he said, speaking of the owner of Oldies 106.9 radio station, which is sponsoring the show.

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Bartlett, 41, is a man of many voices, including those of Mike Tyson, James Brown, Rush Limbaugh, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bill Clinton and his brother Roger - more than 30 characters, according to his press biography.

He started performing in kindergarten, imitating Pat Cooper's comedy routine. He was the class clown who got bored and imitated the teachers. Bartlett said his grandfather and father were funny, but believes that he's funnier than his two younger brothers.

Bartlett started as a stand-up comic in 1978 during a leave of absence from Alfred University in upstate New York, where he was studying English and theater. He met 17-year-old Eddie Murphy at a talent showcase club, and the two became friends and members of "The Identical Triplets," an improvisational trio, according to information on MSNBC's Web site.

In the 1980s, the Imus show on WNBC featured comedians in the studio on Fridays. Bartlett performed his impression of Tom Carvel - a local ice cream entrepreneur - and cracked up Imus. He became a regular because he just kept showing up, he said. When the show moved to the WFAN studios, Bartlett got a contract. He's one of the head writers, does voices and performs the song parodies.

"It's such a great luxury to have a steady gig in show business," he said.

Bartlett has done some television commercials, including those for AT&T, Wendy's and Dunkin Donuts. His 1995 "Rob Bartlett's Not For Profit T.V.," a parody of public television fund-raisers, won two Emmys.

On last Friday's Imus show from Connecticut, Bartlett, in shorts and Hawaiian shirt, sang "Kosovo," a biting parody of the Beach Boys' "Kokomo."

"Babushka, hey mama, here's a B-2 Bomber ..." he sang in the a cappella intro.

How did he come up with that? He couldn't explain the process.

"It just seemed like a natural," he said. There's no more upbeat, traditional American sound than the Beach Boys, according to Bartlett. The irony of using that with the horror of the Balkan struggle hits hard.

"It's not television. It's war," he said, quoting columnist Mike Barnicle, who also was on the program.

Bartlett loves to write and said he really loves doing live shows. His "More to Love, A Big Fat Comedy," played Broadway for 17 performances last fall.

"We like to say it had a limited run," Bartlett said.

He has a longer engagement at home with his wife and three sons, ages 13, 6 and 3.

Bartlett said he doesn't have a lot of free time, and he's with his family when he's not working.

"That's the stuff I really love best," he said.

Bartlett's two younger kids won't go to bed until he does "the robot." Actually, it's his Arnold Schwarzenegger voice: "You must go to sleep. Little boys should go to sleep."

No matter how many times they've heard it, they still laugh, Bartlett said. He likes that. He enjoys full-house audiences laughing at him, but says there's nothing like hearing his two little boys giggling.

Rob Bartlett & The Bartlettes

  • When: Saturday, April 24, 8 p.m.
  • Where: The Maryland Theatre, 21 S. Potomac St., Hagerstown
  • Tickets are $25, $30 and $35, plus $1.50 service charge, and are available by calling 301-790-2000.
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