(The Guide, 2/1/09) It’s hard to remember, but there was a time when comedy had to flourish on TV before Comedy Central, before “Chappelle’s Show” and crank-calling puppets and Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert’s nightly sanity checks. But if you’re going to thank someone for helping end the tyranny of network sitcoms, comedian Tom Rhodes, who is helping re-open the Hilton Head Comedy Club starting Feb. 3, is as good a person as any.
Rhodes received Comedy Central’s first-ever development deal in the mid-’90s, and his long-haired mug became an early face of the network. He’s since trimmed his mane, but he’s proud of how far the network has come. “I think they’re one of the best networks period,” he said. “Stewart, Colbert, those are American icons now that actually influence our political system. Comedy at its greatest should inform or teach people.” During his swing through Hilton Head Island, Rhodes will celebrate his 25th anniversary of being a stand-up, a career he launched a week after he graduated high school and which recently included a talk show on Dutch TV.
There’s been a lot to laugh at about America overseas in the past eight years, Rhodes said. But, he adds, President Obama is fair game too. “That’s the great thing about America: We can make fun of our president, and we always do,” he said.
Tim Donnelly, special to the Guide