Arts & Culture

Tom Arnold brings his stand-up to Sarasota

Tom Arnold has starred in blockbuster movies, TV dramas and silly sitcoms. He's produced and written TV shows, anchored a sports talk show, authored an autobiography and was famously married to and divorced from Roseanne Barr.

He's not known as a stand-up comedian as much as he is for other things, but that's the thing he likes to do best.

"I love stand-up," Arnold said in a phone interview from his California home. "I feel like it makes me better at everything else I do."

Arnold and his stand-up comedy are not rare sightings around this area. He performed in St. Petersburg just a few weeks back. But audiences are still eager for more. He has four shows coming up at McCurdy's Comedy Theatre this weekend, and tickets are going fast. In fact, as early as Tuesday, only a few tickets remained for the early shows on Friday and Saturday.

"I never feel better than I do when I finish a good stand-up show at a club," he said. "And McCurdy's is a really good club."

In comedy clubs, he said, with only a few hundred people in the audience, he can look the audience members in the eye, get a read of their mood, and establish a rapport. That's what makes the experience so special.

"I tell them they can take all the pictures they want, but they can't take video," he said, "because I tell them things that I don't want to go beyond that room."

And his audiences respect his request, he said. He and his wife just announced a couple of weeks ago that they were expecting their second child. He had been telling his stand-up audiences for months that his wife was trying to get pregnant through in vitro fertilization, but the story never leaked to the celebrity magazines and the tabloids.

"I tell my comedy audiences things I wouldn't even tell my own family," he said. "And that's the absolute truth."

His family has been growing lately. He had his first child, his son Jax, just a cou

ple of years ago, when he was 53. His next (and last, he says) is the daughter that's on the way.

Among the many changes wrought by having a child later in life, Arnold said, was a physical one. The once-chubby Arnold -- he was often called "Arnold the Pig" when he was growing up in Ottumwa, Iowa, and his autobiography is titled "How I Lost 5 Pounds in 6 Years" -- is downright svelte these days. He's dropped 100 pounds, and he credits his son.

"You can be an old dad or you can be a fat dad," he said. "But you can't be both."

Details: June 19-20, McCurdy's Comedy Theatre, 1923 Ringling Blvd., Sarasota. Show times: 7 and 9:30 p.m. Tickets: $28. Information: 941-925-3869,

Marty Clear, features writer/columnist, can be reached at 941-708-7919. Follow