Comic Boulger hitting the big time
Norwood native will appear on Craig Ferguson’s ‘Late Late Show’
Earlier this month, Norwood native Dan Boulger snared a coveted gig on CBS’s “The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson.’’ But not many people know about it yet.
Ferguson was host to Boulger, Claire Danes, and Betty White on Oct. 10. Danes and White appeared on the show that aired that night, but Boulger’s stand-up routine was recorded for airing sometime in the next month or so.
Boulger is hardly complaining.
“It all goes by so quickly,’’ said Boulger of his performance. “I had been practicing for a few weeks beforehand, working out what I was going to do on the show.
“But I didn’t get to hang out with Betty White,’’ he joked. “By the time I finished, I think she had hit the bars before I could go talk to her.’’
Going from Norwood to network television is the latest step in a career that has been marked with remarkable early success.
When Boulger entered the 2006 Boston Comedy Festival at age 20, his expectations were low. It was hard to blame him. After less than two years of performing stand-up, he was an underdog pitted against a slew of veterans from the comedy world.
But Boulger pulled off the upset at the festival, edging out some of the country’s best comics, such as local favorite Myq Kaplan, who was a finalist on the most recent season of NBC’s “Last Comic Standing.’’ It wasn’t quite the 1980 Miracle on Ice, but Boulger’s victory did make waves in the Boston comedy scene, immediately putting him on the map.
The next day, he decided to leave Curry College midway through his second year. Comedy was his new career.
“I didn’t expect to win, but it ended up getting me a lot of heat,’’ Boulger said. “After that moment, I started to get a lot of opportunities. Everything started to happen a lot faster than I anticipated.’’
It didn’t take long for Boulger to launch himself into the national spotlight. He earned spots on BBC America and Comedy Central, and opportunities to perform in Europe. He was also invited to perform on national tours and festivals, including the HBO Festival in Aspen.
Noted for his casual on-stage demeanor and acerbic wit, Boulger’s comedy relies on unexpected punchlines.
“Here’s a little tip for those who might work construction,’’ Boulger warns in one of his more well-known bits. “If you’re driving with your boss and you have a load of two-by-fours in the back. If for some reason, the two-by-fours fall off the truck and go through the windshield of the car behind you, don’t turn to your boss and say ‘Jenga.’ Because your dad will fire you.’’
Boulger tries to get on stage at least five times a week, performing anywhere from The Comedy Studio in Harvard Square to Nick’s Comedy Stop in the Theater District. He estimates that he spends about 30 percent of the year on the road, while the rest of his work takes place at venues around New England.
Rick Jenkins, owner of the Comedy Studio, has had the chance to witness Boulger develop as a comic. He first saw Boulger when he appeared as a volunteer from the audience in a sketch when he was 12. “Seeing the way a comedian develops is the best part of running this club,’’ said Jenkins. “He’s matured from being a young comedian with all the tools into being a young comedian who knows how to use all the tools.’’
In Jenkins’s eyes, Boulger has benefited from the confidence that grew out of his fast start in the comedy world.
“Sometimes I wonder if Dan’s early success has been his greatest strength,’’ said Jenkins. “Comedians are filled with anxiety and self-doubt, but Dan has always had a voice and vision to cut through that. He’s always been good.’’
Boulger made his connection with Ferguson when he opened for him this past summer at the Wilbur Theatre in Boston.
After a stellar set, Ferguson’s manager asked Boulger if he wanted to be on “The Late Late Show.’’ The answer, of course, was yes.
The Ferguson show gives Boulger a chance to be seen by roughly 1.5 millon Americans and to expand his fan base nationally.
Following that appearance, Boulger has set a pair of goals for himself: Record an album within the next year and land a half-hour “Comedy Central Presents’’ special.
Ultimately, Boulger said, the past seven years have just been a life-long passion that has come to fruition in a big way.
“I always loved stand-up, ever since I was a kid,’’ said Boulger.
“When I was 12, I would go to the comedy clubs. When I was in high school, I would watch all the specials on Comedy Central. This was something I always wanted to end up doing.’’
Andrew Clark can be reached at email@example.com.