Alumnus brings the laughs

by Beacon Staff • November 8, 2006

Returning to Boston's stand-up scene after a seven-year absence, Clark was near his old Emersonian haunts this past weekend at the Comedy Connection in Fanueil Hall.,Anthony Clark, actor, comedian and Emerson Class of '86 graduate, said he's always been a clown.

Returning to Boston's stand-up scene after a seven-year absence, Clark was near his old Emersonian haunts this past weekend at the Comedy Connection in Fanueil Hall.

Known for his starring roles in NBC's tragically short-lived sitcom "Boston Common" and CBS's "Yes, Dear" and hosting the successful reality competition "Last Comic Standing," Clark reminisced about the city and college where it all began.

"It was fun coming back," he said in a phone interview with The Beacon, referring to his participation with fellow comedic alumni in Emerson's "30 Years of Innovation in Comedy" show held during the Boston Comedy Festival in September.

A self-described "mountain kid" from Virginia, Clark said, "I've always had my eye on exactly what I wanted to do, which was acting and comedy."

"When I look at the resume, I'm really kind of amazed," he said of his work, which also includes several films (The Rock, Say Uncle) as well as acting on Broadway.

Though he cannot choose a favorite among acting, hosting, or stand-up, Clark emphasized the fundamental difference of touring, saying, "There's no director.

There's no producer. There's no writer. It's just you. You can do or say whatever you want, and it's great to be back in front of a live audience."

With new material he calls "more mature" and "edgier," Clark nonetheless feels that his humor is for everybody and is anxious for audience response.

His Southern modesty, however, makes him question his success: "I don't know what the recipe is. I don't really get what they're laughing at sometimes, 'cause it's just my life, you know?"

Having graduated with a degree in mass communication, Clark describes his experience at Emerson with genuine pride and contentment.

"I loved Emerson. I'm really proud of the school," he said. "It was a beautiful choice for me to make. I feel very lucky."

He also joked about the school. "I went to Emerson because it was the only school that would let me in," he said

Not being one for math and science, however, no other college could have suited him either.

The mere thought of algebra prompted the comic to vent, "When are you gonna use it? No, really, I don't get it. Why do they make you take three years of it when you never ever will see it again? I'm mad at algebra!"

If he could make one criticism about the school, though, he wishes the dormitories were not now centralized in what was once called the Combat Zone.

"Now it looks like a college," he said. "It just felt like a little small town thing when it was all on Beacon Hill."

Clark, who is about to head to Australia to film an as-yet-untitled miniseries for NBC, said he could not complete a trip to Boston without revisiting some of his local favorites.

"I'm excited to get a bowl of clam chowder at the Union Oyster House," he said, adding, "Oh my god, and a slice of cornbread, are you kidding?"

With the recent dedication of the Max Mutchnick Campus Center in Piano Row, is there any likelihood of seeing a wall bearing Anthony Clark's name in the future?

Only if it's on one of the local taverns.

"There was a bar across the street from the dorms called Crossroads," he said. "I definitely gave them a lot of money."