By day, comedian Greg Simms fights the good fight as a local civil rights attorney. By night, you’ll often find him onstage at one of your favorite spots for local comedy. This week. Simms and 70 other comedians will be performing in venues across the city as part of the Tim Northern Comedy Festival. One show where Simms will appear, alongside other local personalities including Terry Meiners and Matt Jones, is The Roast of Darryl Isaacs on May 30 at The Icehouse. It is a show that Simms promises will bring the pain to Isaacs, whose face you might have seen on TV and bus ads under the moniker “The Hammer.” Proceeds will go to the Legal Aid Society, The Center for Women and Families, and Bluegrass Center for Autism.
LEO: You’re from Lebanon, Kentucky — Marion County. I imagine being in rural Kentucky you had a fairly conservative upbringing.
Greg Simms: The thing about Marion County is that it’s this weird, blue county, surrounded by red counties. It’s primarily Catholic in a sea of Protestant counties. It’s wet, where all the counties around us were dry. It is an odd liberal speck in the middle of the state. That said, I am still a past Marion County Hog Calling Champion, and I wear that badge with pride.
Did speaking in court make the comedy transition of talking to audiences easier?
I don’t think so. In court, the stakes are certainly higher, but the facts are the facts on the page. I can’t change those. I can try to spin them in a certain way, but at the end of the day the facts are what they are. In comedy, it’s more personal. If a joke falls flat, I have complete control over that. Comedy is getting out of your own way. I like to be a storyteller onstage, but a lot of people don’t respond to that from me. They like it more when I’m angry about something, like a Lewis Black or Bill Burr. So I have to lean into that, even though that’s not my favorite thing to do.
You mention Bill Burr and Lewis Black. Are they some of your influences?
They were. But I grew up listening to stand-up comedy. Eddie Murphy ‘Raw’ and ‘Delirious’ and Denis Leary’s ‘No Cure for Cancer’ are the ones I remember. Every time I listened to those, I’d laugh just as hard as I did the first time. Comedy is way different now. You couldn’t do Eddie Murphy’s ‘Raw’ set anymore. People would be furious. Some of the material he had in there would not play today. You can’t say that shit. And as someone who grew up listening to that stuff, is he one of my influences? I don’t know, since I can’t go out and say that stuff — none of us can.
Everyone’s excited for the Tim Northern Comedy Festival.
I’m jazzed about it because Tim Northern is hilarious and a legend, so to do anything with him is fantastic. And it brings all of these Louisville comics together in a time when Louisville has a shit load of talent.
What do you think they will name after Tim Northern next?
Ultimately, I think Tim Northern will determine what we name after him next. Personally, I think we should tear down all of our Confederate-related statues and build Tim Northern statues. That’ll piss off the right people.
You’re on the dais to roast Darryl Isaacs. Who else are you excited to roast other than him?
I know Matt Jones pretty well. We were in the same circle of friends in law school. I wasn’t a sports fan, so I didn’t even know he had a sports show for a long time. I was like, ‘Wait, what? Somebody put that jackass on the radio? Why would people sit there and listen to him blather on?’ And didn’t he go to Duke? He went to Duke, and now he’s the ringleader of all these UK fans?
What’s the strangest thing about Darryl Isaacs?
The weirdest thing about Darryl Isaacs is that he’s such a nice guy. I mean, you see these commercials, and you’re like, ‘Oh, I get it, this guy’s a huge douche bag.’ But if you have a conversation with him, you’ll see he’s such a nice, down to earth guy. But ultimately, I don’t know that some of these cats know what a roast is. I don’t know if Terry Meiners knows what’s going to happen to him. Civilians do their version of roasts at retirement parties, birthdays and shit like that, with lame jokes about their golf game. I don’t know if they have any idea the level of cut-to-the-bone attacks that come with these roasts when comics are involved. We want you to feel the pain. Mandee McKelvy is a badass. She is no stranger to filleting people, and just leaving them in scraps. We’re coming for flesh and I don’t know that Daryl Isaacs knows what he signed up for.
The Roast of Darryl Isaacs
Wednesday, May 30
226 E. Washington St.
$75-$125 | 7 p.m.