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A&E >  Entertainment

Greg Fitzsimmons will tackle ‘the slap heard around the world’

UPDATED: Fri., April 15, 2022

Comic Greg Fitzimmons, who has worked with Judd Apatow and Louis C.K., headlines the Spokane Comedy Club on Friday and Saturday nights.  (Dan Dion)
Comic Greg Fitzimmons, who has worked with Judd Apatow and Louis C.K., headlines the Spokane Comedy Club on Friday and Saturday nights. (Dan Dion)

Greg Fitzsimmons had a flashback when Will Smith recently slapped Chris Rock during the Academy Awards. While performing in Boston in 1993, a member of the audience jumped on stage and assaulted the veteran comic.

“This guy … came up and challenged me (verbally),” Fitzsimmons recalled. “It was Jewish singles night at the club, and the Boston University girls weren’t that interested in a cab driver. So, he decided to take it out on me. I took him down hard (verbally). He clenched his fist and was about to hit me, and so I hit him on the head with the microphone stand.

“He then got me into a headlock that cranked my neck for three weeks. After the guy was dragged out of the club, the owner said, ‘Hey, Fitzsimmons, you still have five minutes to do.’ The crowd gave me a standing ovation.”

When Fitzsimmons, 56, performs Friday and Saturday at Spokane Comedy Club, expect a healthy amount of discourse centered on Smith’s assault on Rock.

“The slap heard around the world will have to be discussed,” Fitzsimmons said while calling from San Diego. “Should the producer of ‘G.I. Jane’ start work on ‘G.I. Jane 2’ with Jada Pinkett-Smith and Chris Rock? It would be the strong female lead role she’s been looking for.”

Could Will Smith be part of the film? “Yes,” Fitzsimmons said. “He’ll show up at the end as the evil villain.” Fitzsimmons remains fascinated by the Smith-Rock debacle. “Smith spent his whole life building up his reputation and, boom, everything changed after the slap,” Fitzsimmons said. “He’s banned for (10) years at the Oscars. He’s had a couple of projects stalled. You can’t do what he did in Hollywood or hopefully anywhere.”

Fitzsimmons knows Hollywood. The clever humorist has written for a pair of HBO productions, “Crashing,” which was produced by Judd Apatow, and “Lucky Louie,” which featured Louis C.K.

“Both shows were great to work on,” Fitzsimmons said.

“With ‘Crashing,’ we did three seasons (2017-20). I think Judd saw the series as finite. It had a poetic ending, and like a lot of British series, it went shorter than one might expect. I love working on shows with HBO. We don’t get any notes with ‘Crashing,’ and the budgets are big. For one episode of ‘Crashing,’ we rented out Town Hall in New York and got 400 extras for a brief scene and on top we shot on film. ‘Crashing’ looked so good.”

“Lucky Louie” wasn’t so aesthetically pleasing. The show, which debuted in 2006, was akin to a baseball slugger. Each episode, and sometimes scenes, was either a homer or a strikeout and had a backdrop that was similar to the drab set of “The Honeymooners.”

It was by design. Just before its 2005 debut, Louis C.K. admitted he wanted a set designed in “The Honeymooners” fashion.

“ ‘Lucky Louie’ was visually ugly,” Fitzsimmons said. “It was different than almost every other show. In TV, you have the follow your dreams protagonist. But Louie didn’t want to do that. You watched characters struggle on that show and a married couple that didn’t love each other all of the time.”

“Lucky Louie” was canceled after one season.

“I think it should have had another run, and scripts for the second season were written,” Fitzsimmons said. “But a lot of the critics didn’t get it, and Louis had no problem moving on. Louis’ deal with FX for ‘Louie’ worked out well for him.

“He just asked for $100,000 an episode and no notes. He didn’t ask for a lot of money, and he didn’t want to be tied down.”

Fitzsimmons believes C.K. should not be canceled after his career was derailed due to sexual misconduct in 2017.

“Louis should be back, and he is back,” Fitzsimmons said. “He did his time. His comeback performances are great. His TV shows were great.”

There’s always been some lousy TV programs, but Fitzsimmons believes we’ve hit a nadir with shows like “The Masked Singer.”

“It’s so depressing that there are shows like that out there,” Fitzsimmons said. “I have little patience for these sort of shows. I can’t watch them and make it to the commercial break.

“I don’t get how Howard Stern is into ‘The Bachelorette.’ We need to raise the bar a bit.”

Fitzsimmons aims to do that with standup by waxing about difficult material. “I’m working on some Ukrainian stuff, but that’s a little tricky,” Fitzsimmons said.

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