Steven Lolli: Confessions of an "Urban Jew"

Steven Lolli isn't afraid to share his opinions. The graduate of Gaither High School (who now lives in Los Angeles) makes a living sharing them on stage with no filter and a general disdain for what he sees as an unproductive status quo in comedy.

Those opinions have probably offended a few people, but it also made him a hit in predominantly black comedy clubs. It also got him noticed by Katt Williams, who promptly hired him as a writer and helped come up with his moniker, "Urban Jew."

Lolli headlines the Carrollwood Cultural Center on Saturday, and we asked him about his time in Tampa and what people can expect at his stand-up show.

CL: You graduated from Gaither High School . What are your memories of the area, high school, and the comedy scene when you were in it?

Lolli: Hell. High school was one of the middle levels of Dante's Hell. The comedy scene in Tampa was one level up in Hell. I shipped off to Orlando for a few years right after I began, and that comedy scene was a 1/2 level down again.

You're a white, Jewish comedian who became a regular at predominantly black comedy clubs. What's your appeal to that audience, and what do they give you as a performer that you weren't getting from the standard Los Angeles comedy scene?

I got everything from the black L.A. clubs. I got funnier much faster than the other comedians. South Central is also where I started to talk about being Jewish. I never really felt any need to talk about it before that because I did not really feel I had anything to say that had not already been said.

Your comedy isn't the standard premise-setup-punchline format most comedians use. How would you describe your comedy to people who haven't seen it?

Don't set your expectations high when you see me do stand-up. But whatever you see, it will be funnier than the Chelsea Handler show, The Office on NBC or any of that other shit you've been seeing on Comedy Central.

Katt Williams took notice of your talents and hired you as a writer. What did you learn from him?

Katt Williams was one of the greatest comedians I have ever seen live. Being around him, I learned many things from him, specifically about what not to do once you get famous. Now I just have to become famous.

How is headlining your own show at the Carrollwood Cultural Center different than a run at a regular comedy club?

There is not enough room in any newspaper article to explain the difference between performing arts centers vs. comedy clubs. I will just say this: The theater can be a comedian's way to circumvent shitty comedy clubs. You just have to be good enough to headline a performing arts center. That is going to rule out a lot of comedians.

You've been doing comedy for 18 years. How has your comedy changed and how do you see it changing in the future?

I am quite certain that as massive success approaches in the near future. I will be offered a large sum of money to shut my mouth. And I will. Then I will disappear for a decade or so like Bob Dylan. Then I will reappear a born-again Christian. Then, many years later, I will do a Super Bowl halftime commercial.

How do you come up with material?

I come up with material by watching other comedians do the same material and delivery for the past 20 years like it's still 1991 and they're showcasing for Star Search. Then I do the opposite of them.

What can people expect at your show Saturday night?

What you see on Saturday night you might not be ready for, but your kids are gonna love it.

Showtime is Saturday at 10 p.m. Tickets are $14-$20. 4537 Lowell Road, Tampa. Info: or 813-269-1310.

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