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Bobbie Curd’s interview with Lee Cruse, performing at Pioneer Playhouse August 24-5

LeeCruse01After just a phone call with Lee Cruse, it’s easy to see why he’s been a popular television personality for years. He will be appearing today and Saturday at Pioneer Playhouse to round out their season with his Kentucky All-Stars Comedy Tour — the troupe of winning comics from a competition he started out of his love of laughter. 

A front man for WLEX news and host of a midday show on the same network, Lee’s face has been a familiar one in central Kentucky for years. I’ve never met him, yet felt like I already know him — I ask if he gets that a lot.

“Yes,“ he says, somewhat monotone. Then, a long pause … “TV is weird that way.”

Comedy can also be weird, no matter how long you think you’ve been funny, and Lee found that out the hard way. He got lucky once, he says, with a shot at a national talk show in New York, in syndication from ‘94 to ’95. NBC flew him up to be a part of the panel on “Last Call,” the last show Brandon Tartikoff, former head of the network, created before he died.

“I guess I did OK for a 23-year-old kid who’d never been on a plane before, but I got rattled by the audience,” Lee says, and it was obvious they really weren’t on his side.

“It’s a bunch’a New Yorkers, so they already don’t like you.”

He made three appearances, and it wasn’t even stand-up. But that live audience, he says, was “a bunch of progressive communists. I was representing the right to them — but really the center, in my opinion. They’d attack you. They’re against you.”

He pauses, then says, “Man, I’d love to go back.” And he’s serious.

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