He’s performed at the Old Whaling Church, The Vineyard Playhouse, and Wintertide Coffeehouse. Now, award-winning Boston comedian Jimmy Tingle brings his live show to the new Martha’s Vineyard Film Center, along with a documentary, “Jimmy Tingle’s American Dream.” A fundraiser for the Film Center, the double bill takes place on Friday, Oct. 12.
Running for President on the Humor for Humanity party, Mr. Tingle has been campaigning hard and touring with his film, which was released in 2010. “I’ve got to work fast,” he said in a recent MV Times interview. His take on what makes the American dream is that everything is free except parking. He’s performed his stand-up show and campaign in Boston and throughout the Northeast.
Media attention has been very hard to come by, according to Mr. Tingle. He ticked off the number of network TV shows like “Good Morning America” that covered a shark attack in Truro this summer. “I’m going to bring an inner tube, a bucket of blood, and a Please Bite Me T-shirt,” he says. He calls his show funny, topical and clean.
Mr. Tingle’s film began as a stage show at the Off Broadway Theater, which the comedian ran from 2002 to 2007, in Somerville. After finishing an HBO special on Mr. Tingle, filmmaker Vinnie Stragas proposed following the comedian with a camera to make the documentary. “We didn’t have a script or a plan,” Mr. Tingle says. “Life just unfolded.”
“American Dream” compiles interviews with a variety of people, ranging from celebrities, politicians, actors, and other comedians to the homeless, asking them to describe what they believe is the American Dream. The first interviewee is the late film director Robert Altman, who says it’s about fairness. Mr. Tingle’s mother calls for a return to traditional values, such as sacrifice and obligation. Others who comment include Mort Sahl, Janeane Garafalo, Al Franken, Robert Reich, and Howard Zinn.
In a ramble through American history and culture, Mr. Tingle visits Plymouth Rock and looks at a memorial to the Pilgrims, now decorated with graffiti. He points out that Abraham Lincoln established Thanksgiving as a holiday during the Civil War. The role of religion in the American Dream has its moments in the survey, as well as freedom of the press and immigration. What gives the film its coherence and focus is Mr. Tingle’s incisive wit. He peppers “Jimmy Tingle’s American Dream” with intelligent wisecracks.
Mr. Tingle has appeared on several TV shows and in several films. Early in his career, the comedian worked with David Frost as the American commentator for PBS’s “The Strategic Humor Initiative.” He had a two-year stint as a humorist on “60 Minutes II” and joined Johnny Carson on “The Tonight Show.” More recently, he has been a satirist on MSNBC and performed on “Late Night with Conan O’Brien,” and “The Late Late Show.” His movie appearances include “Head of State” and “Next Stop Wonderland.”
In 2010, Mr. Tingle received a master’s degree from the Kennedy School of Management at Harvard and was selected to give the commencement address. He bills himself as a comedian who has gone from national TV back to street performing.
Tickets for an Evening with Jimmy Tingle at MV Film Center, which will benefit the center, are $25 for general admission to the film and live performance, and $35 for general admission and the reception following the show. Advance tickets may be purchased by calling 508-696-6369 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
An Evening with Jimmy Tingle, Friday, Oct. 12, 7:30 pm, M.V. Film Center, Tisbury Marketplace, Vineyard Haven. For information, visit mvfilmsociety.com.