If there was ever a true representation of that tired cliché comedian’s comedian, it would Keith Robinson. He is beloved by his peers for being a sharp-tongued, crotchety, no-holds-barred funny man. However, the general comedy audience is probably more familiar with the comedians he has influenced, such as Wanda Sykes, whom Robinson opened for during her rise to stardom, than the man himself. Even Keith’s first hour-long special, “Kevin Hart Presents: Keith Robinson – Back of the Bus Funny,” opens with a half-endorsement, half-assurance from his most famous protégé, Kevin Hart. In the words of comedian Ben Bailey at the Roast of Patrice O’Neal, “You took Lil Kev under your wings and he ripped it off and flew away with it.”
That’s not to say that Robinson’s level of recognition is commensurate to his talent. His skill at verbally smashing everyone at the famed Comedy Cellar in Greenwich Village is legendary. Even among a talented group of regulars that includes Jim Norton, Colin Quinn, Bill Burr, and Louie CK, Robinson is revered as an undisputed king of spontaneous put-downs. To the uninitiated, his ability to verbally annihilate people will probably never be known or appreciated, but for New York comedy fans, it makes him a minor God.
Part of his verbal dexterity comes from a tough childhood in the projects of Philadelphia. His father was stabbed to death and his mother fled to Virginia after shooting a man at a card game. Early on, Keith realized his gift of mean-spirited gab and began performing on the Philadelphia comedy circuit, a circuit notorious for some of the toughest crowds in the country. There he met Kevin Hart and taught him the comedian’s comedian code: be who you truly are comedically, even if that means pissing off the audience.
From there he moved to New York, where he cultivated his reputation as a verbal assassin. This recognition led to a regular spot on Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn, a writing gig on Chappelle’s Show, a supporting role in Trainwreck, and numerous stand-up spots on MTV, VH1, HBO, and TBS.
In 2016, after falling on the sidewalk outside the Comedy Cellar, Robinson suffered from a blood pressure related stroke. Three months later, to the surprise of his doctors and close friends, he began performing again. He still has the verbal wit and comedian’s comedian attitude, but now it’s delivered with a slight limp and less movement in his right arm.
Bio by Andy Gause