Comedian Jeff Gerbino has a couple of young granddaughters who show signs of star power.
The former Twin Cities radio show host, with a gift for impersonations, now lives in the Tampa-St. Pete area. “My swing in the South, which is not a place I used to hit a lot,” is going well, said Gerbino. He’s glad he expanded “to a new market — South Carolina and places like that.” Gerbino recently did a show with Scott Hansen. “My comedy birthplace is Minnesota,” he said. “I lived here about 25 years.”
Gerbino had two small kids when he lived here and they have made him a grandfather. “My other [non-Minnesota] granddaughter grew up in New York [where] my daughter is a casting agent,” he laughed. That tot “has already nailed her first commercial. It’s a toy and she’s on the box. It’s a bunny, [Soft Dreams Bunny Music and Vibration Soother]. You put a camera on [her and you get that] smile. Boom. That girl knows. My mother is still alive at 93. She got to hold her great-granddaughter.”
Being a grandfather, among other things, has mellowed Gerbino, who claims this interview includes the real story of the deal he got Jay Leno while impersonating him. Gerbino’s vocal antics were so good, the first time Leno called me, he became very exasperated because I wasn’t convinced my caller was the real Jay Leno. Gentle as Gerbino has become, he still knows how to make chew toys out of the politicians and comedians about whom we bantered when he was at Fox 9.
Q: What did you think about now-former Sen. Al Franken’s situation?
A: As I said before ... he wasn’t good enough, he wasn’t smart enough, and doggone it, women didn’t like him.
Q: Did you know that Louis CK was so poorly behaved?
A: There’s always a tip-off when all your opening acts are under 30. Might be a clue that you’re trying a little hanky-panky there. I just don’t know how Louis, as a comedian, steps out on stage ever again. I think he’s going to have a tough time without a lot of women getting up and leaving or flat out protesting. He’s not from the Bill Cosby school. Bill [allegedly] likes them unconscious. At least you’ve got to give [Louis] credit: They were conscious. OK. They were disgusted and revolted about what was going on.
Q: You think Louis CK will have a tougher time than “Seinfeld” alum Michael Richards?
A: Yes. I think it’s going to be harder because he’s a bigger star, in terms of stand up.
Q: If Roy Moore hadn’t been a suspected pedophile he would have been your kind of guy, right?
A: Oh yeah, I like a guy with a pistol in his pocket who takes it out every now and then. And the cowboy hat. Cowboys haven’t existed in 100 years so you’re wearing a costume, sir. You want to get out of your silly costume? Are you Roy Rogers? This is a state where all anybody is thinking about is “Roll Tide.”
Q: What’s your favorite thing about Donald Trump?
A: [Assuming a Trump voice] The ability to constantly lie and tell people anything that comes into my head. I am the bipolar president. Look at my children. They have no jobs but they have large paychecks.
Q: You’re just jealous of Ivanka.
A: I am. I just want to know what her job title is. She’s always in the background. She’s like that old Woody Allen movie “Zelig.” She just appears in historical moments. Why is she there other than “I’m sort of a model filter for my father but he never listens to me.”
Q: Do you ever run into Jay Leno?
A: I did in Florida, actually Miami.
Q: Is he still angry with you for impersonating him. Didn’t you call up and order things, in Leno’s voice, a limo?
A: Never ordered a limo. Here’s what I did. Other comedians were egging me on [to] call up the club in Oklahoma City, [where] Leno was coming the next week. All I did was negotiate a better deal. He was doing five days at $5,000 a night. I got him $5,000 a show and four nights [before disclosing he was not really Leno].
C.J. can be reached at email@example.com and seen on Fox 9’s “Buzz.” E-mailers, please state a subject.