Going back to his roots for a night of laughter
Making people laugh has been a lifelong passion for comedian Bootsie.
He's done it professionally for about two decades.
In that span he's been filmed for Russell Simmons' Def Jam Comedy, headlined on a Royal Caribbean cruise, shared the stage with too many comedians to count and organised several shows.
But this year he is going back to his roots.
On Saturday he's performing at the Ruth Seaton James Centre for the Performing Arts just as he did at his first solo show 20 years ago.
Ironically, parts of his own life weren't amusing at all.
He was abused as a child by an alcoholic stepfather, he lost a brother to Aids all material he uses for his comedy acts today.
“A lot of pieces that I have written about are real life pieces and that's what makes it so passionate.
“The drunk that I do is based around my stepfather there were some good times, but as a kid a lot of times it seemed rough.
“I lost a brother [Eugene Cook] to Aids. He was a homosexual and I have a bit on that which I always dedicate him. It was a hard pill for us to swallow as a family, and even now, it has been 13 years since he has passed and it seems just like yesterday.
“For years I carried the anger, but now I am able to express certain things onstage for people who are in similar situations, whether as children or as adults. It's not preaching, it's just sending a message.”
He doesn't remember being one of those children whose jokes always had his friends in stitches, the comedian said.
“I have people who come to me and say, ‘you always made me laugh when I was young', but I don't remember that. I was just being me.
“But I had a habit of portraying different characters I would pretend that I was a karate expert and I would do the voices and the movements. Or my mouth would move and the words would come out afterwards. I was doing that when I was 13 or 14 years old.”
Whoopie Goldberg proved the inspiration he needed.
It was while he was a student at Thomas College in Waterville, Maine that he viewed a Betamax video of the American actress and thought performing might be something he would enjoy.
“She was doing a series of skits and characters. I had done so many characters in the mirror I thought, ‘I can do that,'” he said.
He returned to Bermuda and shared that idea with his brother.
“And he looked at me as if I was crazy and asked, ‘Are you serious?'”
He moved to the stage gradually, performing in local talent and fashion shows.
“I would ask if I could be a part of it, it didn't matter what it was until I got my name out there.”
After a year he decided to comprise all of his skits and performed his debut solo show in 1990.
“[Saturday's] show will feature stuff that most people haven't seen before,” Bootsie said.
“In fact, I forgot some of the skits that I've preformed and was reminded when I was watching DVDs of my past performances.”
“One is a real nice kid, but you can see that he is a little devious, while the other is just outright rude. And I imitate a Jamaican lady.”
The comedian also intends to poke fun at local politics. The Progressive Labour Party's October leadership challenge between Dale Butler, Terry Lister and now Premier Paula Cox, will be included.
“It'll probably be around the change of Premiership and on some of the things that we do as a people and of course Dale Butler who only got two votes. I have a new spin on that.”
His 14-year-old daughter Aalai Wolffe will also perform.
“She's my little heart, my little entertainer. She begged me to be a part of my show, so I incorporated her into one of my skits.”
‘Bootsie In His One Man Comedy Show' takes place at the Ruth Seaton James Centre for the Performing Arts on Saturday.
Doors open at 7.30pm.
Tickets, $20, are available at 27th Century Boutique, All Western Union Outlets, Bootsie's Comedy Club and by telephone, 297-3938.