He takes the funny business very seriously -- from starring in his own Showtime Special and being Rosie O'Donnell's predecessor pick to host VH1's "Stand-up Spotlight," to opening for such names as Cher, Dolly Parton, Julio Inglesis and Tony Bennett, to name a few. Topping Collins' first comedy CD "On The Inside" that showcased his wide-ranging observational material, his second "Out Of Bounds," earned a Grammy nomination. While live stage performances in New York, Las Vegas, and Atlantic City are forever expanding his list of faithful followers, he has also appeared in five feature films and numerous television shows. Growing up in a large family in a rough neighborhood of Queens, NY, Collins knew he wanted to be a comedian when everyone gathered to watch the Ed Sullivan show and the laughs never ceased. "At school I was a total class clown," he recalls. "I used my wit and humor to get out of fights and doing homework."
One could say comedy was Collins' destiny. He was named after his father's favorite comedian, Bob Hope. "I've never seen Bob Hope perform. But when I was appearing in Philadelphia for the first time, a newspaper reporter from New York City caught my act and liked it so much he decided put me on the cover of the paper's weekend section. Lost in the cover's corner was a tiny picture of Bob Hope. While I was visiting with friends in the local restaurant, a black limousine pulled up and the driver handed me a manila envelope. Inside was a signed photo of Bob Hope along with a note saying 'how dare you get top billing on a weekend,' with a happy face written in. I still have it to this day," he said.
Collins has a way about him that commands attention and exudes confidence. Tall, with dark, curly hair, his gift of gab landed him a job with Calvin Klein when a company executive saw Collins sell Klein's wife some jewelry at the Garment Center in Manhattan. One year later, at age 26 he was atop the corporate ranks as vice president for the fashion company, all the while moonlighting as a comic.
Breaking into the comedy circuit came when, after chatting up the bartender at Manhattan's premiere comedy club, Collins found himself on stage at Catch A Rising Star. He continued to hone his skills until finally arriving on the Las Vegas scene. He gave up Calvin Klein to realize his passion as a comedian, and it's been a riot ever since. "Making someone laugh for a few minutes of their day is a very gratifying experience," Collins says. "They may be going through a difficult time in their life and may not have laughed for quite awhile. I appreciate those moments when I help make a difference by connecting in a positive way." With reverence to his favorite entertainment icons, he describes his comedic style as a combination of the physical movement of Jerry Lewis, the sleek, good looks of Dean Martin, and the heart of George Burns.
Collins hopes to continue doing what he loves -- performing. Whether its clubs or corporate gatherings, it's non stop laughter. He says,"Laughing can be a stress reliever. And when I interact with the audience, they see new things about their everyday world that make them smile. It's a release."
Plans for a network sitcom are in the process, but for now Collins gets pleasure from spreading laughter and being a dedicated family man residing in California with his wife and two young children. An avid basketball player, he hits the hard court whenever time allows.
APPEARING AT THE STARDOME
ON JANUARY 27-29, 2012
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