A tribute to Red Skelton

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Hoffman performing as Red Skelton/photo by Michael Williams

Watching Brian Hoffman perform his Red Skelton act is almost the same as seeing the late comedian perform. Hoffman is a Red Skelton tribute artist performing the skits and comic routines of the legendary comedian.

Skelton began performing in Vaudeville and later in the movies before his 20 year run with the Red Skelton Show on CBS television. The show went off the air in 1971, but Skelton continued performing sold out performances at colleges across the nation for the next ten years and performed in Las Vegas and TV specials on HBO.

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The real Red Skelton/photo submitted

Brian Hoffman became a Skelton tribute artist by, as he says, divine intervention. Hoffman worked as a service router for a car dealership, but preferred performing comedy. In 1995, he began performing numerous comedy shows in his hometown of Akron, Ohio during open mic and amateur nights. He eventually began emceeing the show, even introducing Drew Carey, until a chance encounter sent his comedy career careening in a different direction.

“One night there was this couple who had stayed to talk to me,” said Hoffman. “They were an older couple named Marlin and Kay and both told me that I reminded them of Red Skelton and I should do a show as Red.”

Hoffman remembered Skelton, having watched his show as a child. He began studying the master comedian and learned his most famous routines, mimicking his silly facial expressions and performing his classic comedy while mastering his comedic timing.

Hoffman performs the timeless comedy routines that originated in Vaudeville and continues to entertain audiences today. The “Guzzlers Gin” skit, in which the TV pitchman gets intoxicated while hawking the high‑octane elixir, is just one of many that Hoffman reenacts. In another one, Hoffman performs the “Squeaky door” routine as the old man who is attempting to grease a squeaky door only to realize the squeak is coming from a most unexpected place.

Hoffman began performing his shows at local Moose Lodges, VFW, Rotary Clubs and other civic organizations. In 2005, he decided to aim high and head for Las Vegas. His first year was difficult, as bookings were few and far between. A year later he met Larry Jones who was headlining at the Plaza Hotel. With Jones’ help Hoffman was able to make some contacts that eventually led to him having his own show at the Westin Hotel Casino and Spa. The show was a success.

This year, with the birth of his grandson, he decided to move east to be closer to Ohio.

Hoffman is performing his show “Remembering Red: A Tribute to Red Skelton” at the Cyrus Family Theater, 140 Showplace Blvd., off the Parkway in Pigeon Forge. Like Skelton, Hoffman performs clean comedy without the use of foul language and the show is suitable for people of all ages. For more information call 865-446-4329 or visit cyrusfamilytheater.com.

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