It wouldn’t be short of the truth to say that Worcester-born comedian, writer, and actor Denis Leary and former right wing (and current President) for the Boston Bruins Cam Neely are national treasures. The duo have spent most of their careers entertaining and serving Bostonians and continue to do so with the annual Comics Come Home event, taking place on November 12 at the TD Garden.
The annual event, founded by Neely to raise funds for The Cam Neely Foundation for Cancer Care, always pulls in mega-watt comedians with big hearts including Wanda Sykes and Jimmy Fallon. We spoke with event host Denis Leary about why he loves Comics Come Home, his favorite Boston restaurants, and why this is the “worst election ever.”
Boston Common: You’ve done Comics Come Home for years. What draws you back each time? Denis Leary: What brings me back is Cam. His devotion to this cause. His passion for it. Not to mention the audience. They support this cause so deeply. Every single year we sell this event out. And we all get to laugh our asses off. Because we are just audience members ourselves - we all sit or stand at the side of the stage and watch whoever is performing. And we love knowing that we are helping The Neely Foundation in the process.
The event is the weekend after the Presidential election. Will that be good fodder for your routine? DL: The election will be front and center this year. Me and the band have a Trump and Hillary tribute tune placed right in the opening of the show and I'm never certain what I'm going to talk about until I get out there but this year I'm pretty sure my mind will be focused on both of them. This is the worst election ever. Therefore - the funniest election ever. I'm glad me and all the comedians will be able to help Boston rid itself of their election demons that night.
How do you usually find inspiration for your comedic routines? DL: For me it's very organic - things that piss me off on a a daily basis. From the news, from just walking or driving around this country - it never ceases to amaze me how many morons and idiotic ideas appear in front of me. I store everything up in the comedy part of my brain and once i hit the stage i just open the trap door in my mind and it all comes rolling out.
Leary with Cam Neely and Jimmy Fallon at Comics Come Home.
What is next for you after Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll? DL: Right now I'm producing a few TV shows and a movie and writing a new book. And getting ready for Ice Age 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10.
You taught at Emerson College after graduating. What did you learn from teaching at Emerson that helped you in your career? DL: While I was teaching there I met my wife [novelist Ann Leary], who was a student of mine. It wasn't against the law then. Even if it was - it's too late to prosecute me. So I learned how much your life can change in the blink of an eye; my wife walked into that classroom and I knew immediately my life had been altered forever.
What is your favorite part of coming home for this event? DL: My favorite part of the event is having dinner with Cam the night before - we go to different places every year. I love Nebo, Moo, Scampo, Ostra. Anything with a vowel at the end.
You recently teamed up with the smart home leader Nest to give $25,000 grants to fire departments around the country for new technology and equipment. One of the first two recipients is the Fall River Fire Department. What do these initiatives mean to you? DL: The people at Nest are incredibly generous and forward thinkers - so coming to The Leary Firefighters Foundation they knew we turn our donated funds into delivered equipment for fire departments within six months or less. And what’s important for people to know is how much every piece of equipment matters. So when we build an actual building, as we have done for the Worcester Fire Department and the high-rise simulation complex we built for the FDNY, it's a large and impressive donation. So are fire boats like the one we gave to the Boston Fire Department or the 16 rescue boats we donated to the New Orleans Fire Department. But just as necessary, and in some cases even MORE important, are small hand held pieces of technology - scuba masks, infrared imaging devices, ATV vehicles - the list goes on and on. Every fire department in every single city in America has equipment needs, and every dollar counts.
Buy tickets to Comics Come Home on November 12 at 8 p.m. at the TD Garden here.