Comic Bob Nelson headlines new theater in Pigeon Forge

Jun. 22, 2013 @ 07:30 PM

A new show will debut in Pigeon Forge next week.

The Bob Nelson Comedy Show will open Friday in the newly renovated theater that was formerly Kickin' Country.

"The Fee/Hedrick family is thrilled to add to the great entertainment we already offer, and Bob Nelson embodies everything we ever dreamed of having," said Jim Hedrick, senior vice president and co-owner of the Fee/Hedrick Family entertainment group.

Nelson, who majored in theater, said he has been making people laugh as long as he can remember.

Nelson has had a number of roles in the industry. For eight years, he performed as the opening act for Rodney Dangerfield, which led to his being featured in two of Dangerfield's HBO comedy showcases. From that, he went on to star in two of his own HBO specials. He also starred as Henry Shoop in the movie "Kindergarten Cop."

One of his favorite memories include performing for Ronald Reagan at Ford's Theater.

Nelson takes pride in his family-friendly comedy routines, but he said it is not a role he always embraced. It was at the encouragement of his mentor, Red Skelton, that caused Nelson to change his act.

"I came up at the same time as Jerry Seinfield and Paul Reiser. Those guys would mock me because I would put on hats and do crazy things during my act. I never felt like I was part of the stand up crowd. I wasn't comfortable with my colleagues," Nelson said.

Skelton explained the problem to Nelson: "You don't belong to their circus, but you're borrowing their stage. You're a clown like me."

Following Skelton's advice, Nelson became a clean comic, stopped cursing, and embraced his own unique talents.

Hedrick said, "Bob has many funny faces and he can go from one to the other instantaneously. He changes so quickly and seamlessly. I've been a fan since his first HBO special, and I am thrilled to meet him, even though I have met many celebrities. I have so much respect for him, his humor, and that he now works clean."

Nelson said that although he has had numerous offers to perform in New York, he never pursued them.

"What's the point? There's thousands of shows there. I wouldn't be making a difference," he said.

Nelson said Pigeon Forge offers the perfect venue for his talents. "I want to do comedy that is family-oriented, where I can make the little ones and grandma laugh at the same time, and I don't have to worry about my opening act," he said.

The new show will be staged at 8 p.m. six days a week with matinees at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. For more information, call the theater's box office at 428-5600 or visit www.bobnelson.com.

n jfrye@themountainpress.com