5 Questions is a series by Steve Duffy –
5 Questions: Jimmy Tingle
The Cambridge, Mass.-born Tingle has a career spanning three decades, as a comedian, writer, actor, activist and entrepreneur. He rose up from the Boston comedy boom of the ‘80s, the scene that spawned Steven Wright, Denis Leary, Bobcat Goldthwait and Paula Poundstone.
SD: When did you realize you could make people laugh?
JT: I came from a very funny family. My mom was the funniest person I knew in the entire world. My first official laugh came in 7th grade English class. Our English teacher told us to write an essay and gave us complete freedom to write whatever we wanted. I wrote a story about hunting bears near the Fresh Pond Reservation. It was kind of a rip-off from Davy Crockett and the class loved it. As my teacher was reading it, the entire class was cracking up. It was really my first gig.
SD: Being a comedian in a tumultuous political time is gold. Why is that?
JT: From a comedic standpoint, the jokes write themselves with this current President. Since the early 80’s, I have always paid attention to social issues and politics. When you make serious topics funny, it helps to make a point and get people to listen. Delivering a message is better received when you get people laughing. My goal is to always help influence change with laughter.
SD: How does your New Year’s Eve show differ from any other show you have done?
JT: This show has really come together since the election I didn’t win. I did not win the primary. I came in second place. I got 41.3% of the votes. If you get second in a 2-person race, that’s like receiving the silver metal. This show focuses more about my last year and what motived me to run for office.
SD: Tell us about your latest project “Humor for Humanity”
JT: It is still in a startup phase. It’s a new social enterprise that will focus on raising spirits, funds, and awareness for non-profits, charities and social causes. We are not a charity, we help charities.
SD: Any New Year’s resolutions?
JT: Like most, I want to get in better shape. Before I start, I need to take a night course at MIT on how to use my Fitbit.