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  • Writer's pictureDavid Reuben

Kenny Robinson

A Living Legend in Canadian Comedy!

"Kenny Robinson is one of the most honest clever and relevant comics working in Canada today. The fact that he is also legendarily kind seems almost perverse!"-- Mark Breslin

"After 25 years of watching comedy and doing thousands of shows I have compiled a top ten funniest sets. Kenny holds two of those spots The only godfather of Canadian comedy. He has helped more comics than any festival has.

The only barometer for funny to me is if Kenny laughs."-- Darren Frost

"One of the most passionate ..."Father"...."Son"..."Friend"..."Comic". And is equally qualified in all. A night with Kenny Robinson will change you...Love that man...xoxo" -- BJ Woodbury

"First time I met Kenny Robinson, he was licking a lady's feet (with her permission of course) and therefore Kenny Robinson is my hero, he's vile, at times raucous and always relevant! He's a funny man who has mentored and guided other funny people such as myself selflessly and generously. He is a kind soul, a great father and a true gentleman" -- Arthur Simeon

"Kenny was the first comic who spoke to my sense of humor. I didn't even know you were allowed to say those things on stage. Sometimes you can't because you don't know how to execute the joke, but Kenny certainly can. He showed me that it's okay to say what you are thinking on the inside, outside." -- Shannon Laverty

"It's seems like Kenny Robinson has always been there, toward the top...a comedian I admired, somebody whose respect I wanted to earn. After 45 years in comedy he's still funny, fresh, relevant and smooth as silk. The man is an oak. Happy 45th anniversary pal." -- John Moses

When I ran Yuk Yuk's Komedy Kabaret in Toronto (from 1981 thru '85) as club business manager and as agent for all the comics, I developed a great working relationship with Kenny Robinson who always turned up, delivered a great set and was a great ambassador for the club at any gig I gave him. I consider the 80's as the "golden era" of Canadian stand-up comedy when stars such as Mike MacDonald, Pat Bullard, Howard Busgang, Glen Foster and Evan Carter filled clubs and became household names. Kenny Robinson joined that elite group and carved his own special niche by creating his Nubian Disciples of Pryor, a comedy collective of multicultural stand-up comics who brought a new perspective to the stage. In recent years, Kenny's long career in an industry known for its frequent crash'n'burns has been rewarded with a variety accolades and awards including the Canadian Comedy Awards "Phil Hartman Award" in 2014. Kenny Robinson is one of the most articulate and incisive stand-up comics working today ("still crazy after all these years") and I'm thrilled to see him still packing 'em in! -- Glenda Fordham

"Kenny has been incredibly supportive and giving as a fellow comic. It never mattered what show he was running, whether it be an open mic or his Nubian show he always allowed or I should say encouraged comics to take risks to grow and was himself a true example of this in his own comedy. Forever grateful for our friendship." -- Kate Davis

The author [David Reuben] first met Mr. Kenny Robinson in the fall of 1983 when I was a raw amateur with 2 sets under my belt, and Kenny was already craving out his reputation as a fearless Headliner and MC. In those days pro comics to a while to warm up to the Newbies. Lucky that Kenny and I bonded over our mutual love of Jazz and Blues.

Mr. Kenny Robinson was born in Winnipeg Manitoba on January 7, 1958 to a black father and white mother. Kenny states; "I don't know if being bi racial was a blessing or a curse."

The Robinson family move to Chicago when young Kenny was one year old. Kenny's father was an entertainer [tap dancer, song and dance man, and drummer] who passed away when Kenny was 9 years old. Kenny Robinson's mom was a young widow raising two energetic boys [Kenny & Scotty] while working multiple jobs. "Had he lived, I'm sure he would have groomed me to be a Vegas type act....don't think he would have dug the style I created for myself."

This amazing comedy career stared with an amateur night at the Royal Albert Arms in his hometown of Winnipeg Manitoba in April of 77. Mr. Kenny Robinson remembers; "I never was a big comedy fan...I loved Jonathan Winters, Jackie Gleason...but my favorites were impressionist...GEORGE KIRBY, FRANK GORSHEN, RICH LITTLE...

I really had no desire to do stand-up...I wanted to act...but after hearing RICHARD PRYOR'S "THAT NIGGAS CRAZY"… that was the beginning of my career, and the end of any shot of a normal life."

The late 1970 was a booming time for comedy in Chicago and Kenny took advantage of this to learn his craft. The Comedy Cottage, the Comedy Womb, Zanies, Kobarts COMEDY. Zanies wasn't a showcase room like the others. "In the showcase rooms you got paid between 2-5 bucks a spot....each spot booked you by Time...say 915-925....then you'd hop in your car to hit the other rooms. You had to do 3 spots a week in each club to get you set money. So, it wouldn't be strange to be pulling 9-12 spots a week."

Kenny Robinson's kindness to up and coming comics is legendary, but at the beginning he was an up and coming comic under the wings of Orlando Reyes & Jim Faye.

​Orlando Reyes was smooth as silk, and blue as you could get. "Orlando taught me to just have fun and be funny."

Jim FAYE....Second City, Chicago COMEDY RANGERS....who once hit every stage in Chicago one night with Robin Williams… Improving till the Sun came up. "Jim was more about finding my voice, being smart, and not so filthy."

Jim Faye suggested that Kenny Robinson should study and try to hang with Arsenio Hall who was living in Chicago in the late 1970's. Kenny explains; "he wasn't cool like Orlando....and a terrible joke thief. I'm taking about scoring great reviews in all of the Chicago newspapers… And half a dozen comics reading their jokes in the review..."

In 1983 Kenny Robinson relocated to Toronto and started blazing his trail and the original Yuk Yuk's Komedy Kabaret on Bay Street in Yorkville. By 1984 Kenny was able to quit his day job and concentrate full-time on Comedy. Young Mr. Robinson took note that in the 1980's there were only Five Black Comic's working in Toronto. Himself, Ronny Edwards, Greg Morton, Evan Carter, and Eugene Clark.

Kenny Robinson credits his longevity in the Canadian Comedy Business to "Tenacity" but the author [David Reuben] tends to think it has more to do with staying current, changing his act as his life changes, being political or radical when needed and just being a really talented nice guy."

Mr. Robinson has toured throughout Canada, the USA, the UK and South Africa.. Kenny says; "Political Comedy is my CRACK and I think I do it as well as ANYONE in the country. My act is a bit on the extreme side, so audiences have been about the same wherever I perform. 85% Digging ME...15% HATING ME." Kenny Robinson's ability to walk full rooms has become folklore in the Canadian Comedy Community."

Kenny Robinson has concurred Television, Film and Radio including but not limited to hosting The Gemini Awards and was twice nominated for his writing and performance in his ground breaking one hour special "Thick and Thin" co-staring Ronny Edwards on the CBC.

Kenny has earned accolades as the creator, writer, producer and host of the edgy late night series "After Hours with Kenny Robinson" on The Comedy Network.

His episode of the CBC's Comics has been referred by the Toronto Star as "One of the few episodes that still stand with the test of time."

For 2 years he was one of the co-hosts of "The Morning Rush" on Flow 93.5fm, Canada's first black owned hip hop radio station.

In the UK Kenny was on the TV show Paramount World Stand Up as well as doing every major club that the UK had to offer.

As an actor Kenny has appeared in such films as "Third Miracle" with Ed Harris, "Down To Earth" with Chris Rock, Clement Virgo's "Love comes Down", and David Sutherland's "Love, Sex, and Eating the Bones and many more."

Mr. Robinson has appeared on the CBC's "Royal Canadian Air Farce", Showtime's "Soul Food", and has a wide fan base from his re-occurring roles as "Jelly Bean" on PAX series "Doc", starring Billy Ray Cyrus, and as "Mickey" on the teen favourite "Radio Free Roscoe" on the "Noggin" Network.

Thought all this Mr. Kenny Robinson is most admired for helping young comics, in fact in 1986 Kenny took a young raw Brent Butt on his first road trip. The Famed Groundhog Pub at Bloor & Sherbourne in Toronto was a Tuesday night must play in the late 1990's and comics such as Kate Davis, Jason Rouse, Terry Clement and Dan Dunn would compete for the $75 going to the best act of the night. In fact, the author [David Reuben] witnessed Dan Dunn riding his motorcycle into the basement of the Groundhog on more than one occasion.

In 1995 Kenny Robinson changed the Colour of Comedy in Canada with his Nubian Disciples of Pryor. Black comics need to be on it, Brown comics want to be on it .White comics beg to be on it. Twenty One years and counting and careers have been made on this show, careers have been ended on this show. According to Kenny;" the Nubian show is like the Count Basie Band, great players come in and great players leave. That is what keeps it fresh." The Nubian Disciples of Pryor will continue "until I'm out in the grave, and my friends carry me out to Steve Millers The Joker."

Recently, Kenny spent his birthday hanging with good buddy Russell Peters in Los Angeles & Tempe Arizona and doing what he does best. A little stand-up and a little partying.

For the past couple of years you will catch Kenny on the road with his homie Darren Frost doing their "RANK AND VILE" TOUR. "We kick the fuck out of rooms together across the country."

When not working you will find Kenny Robinson hanging with his 3 kids, Chelsea, Bo, and Izzy. Or he could be visiting his mother who has not lost any of her vim and vigor. "My mom wanted me to bring her soup....1145 PM Maaa!!!"

What is happening in the future for Mr. Kenny Robinson is being kept close to the vest by the Legend? But like famed trumpet virtuoso Clark Terry says;" Keep On Keepin On!"

"Kenny has always been a leader in our community. He has always helped younger comics whenever he could and I am grateful for those times where he has helped me" - Gerry Dee

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