Actor and Stand-up Comic Keith McGill.

Keith McGill is an actor and stand-up comedian active for several years in Louisville and the surrounding area. Locally he has worked with The Louisville Improvisors, Walden Theatre, and the Actors’ Theatre New Voices Playwriting Program for Young People. As well as being popular internationally on Royal Caribbean Cruises, Keith has appeared on BET and CMT, and is a Bob and Tom Show favorite, as well as a much sought-after entertainer for corporate events. This month, he will be available to audiences in the Actor’s Choice production of Topdog/Underdog opening January 10.

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1.    You work as a stand-up comic and as an actor. Which came first?

I was an actor first because I wanted to be on stage and acting seemed most accessible at the time.  But I’d always been the “class clown” type and I was really drawn to comedy, so I went to an open mike and gave it a try.  Now I’m lucky enough to do both.

2.    What inspires you?

Really good actors and stand-up comics.  I feel so lucky to be in the same profession as Louis CK or Helen Mirren or Jim Gaffigan or Robert DeNiro.  Because I teach, I get inspired every day by kids who find their potential on stage or just in front of a classroom.

3.    What was your first professional job as a comic?

When I first started out, I did twenty minutes during a band break at a bar mitzvah.

4.    As an actor, what has been your favorite role?

That’s a hard one because I love every role, especially when I’m doing it.  Right now I’m working on TOPDOG/UNDERDOG as Lincoln and having a great time.

5.    What has been your least favorite role?

My first acting role was a period piece where I played scenery. Literally.  There was a bunch of us rolling around on the floor in Lycra bags playing rocks and trees.

6.    What is your dream role?

The next one I get hired for.  It’s just so great to be chosen and get to do this all the time.  I just want to keep doing it whatever the role.

7.    What is the best direction you have ever been given?

A director once said to me simply, “I don’t believe you.”  In other words, stop “acting.”  I use that same direction all the time when I direct.

8.    What is the worst? 

I was in a play where I was given almost no direction so I thought I was doing okay.  After final dress, the director says, “Keith, I feel like you’re doing a completely different play than everyone else.”  What was I supposed to do—fix it overnight?  Where were you for the rest of rehearsal?  But that let me know that you can overcome even the harshest critics.  By the way, that was the same director that gave me my best direction.

9.    Who is your favorite playwright?

Toss up – Tennessee Williams and August Wilson.

10. What makes the local theatre scene so strong?

We support each other so well here.  You always see actors and directors from other companies going to see each other’s shows.  And now with events like the Slant Culture Festival at Walden, we’re coming together even more.

11. What are its weaknesses? 

We need more spaces to do shows.  The Bard’s Town has been a great addition. And I saw Savage Rose’s Macbeth at a modified Iroquois (Parkside Studio at Iroquois Amphitheater).  So we seem to be working that out.

12. If you couldn’t be an actor, what would be your choice as a profession?

I would teach maybe. I like being there when “the light comes on.” When some kid gets it for the first time, or something he or she already knew about himself or herself is honored.

Keith McGill in rehearsal for Topdog/Underdog.
Photo courtesy of Actor’s Choice Theatre.
Actor’s Choice, Presenting TOPDOG/UNDERDOGwith Keith McGill and Brian Lee West 

January 10-20, 2013