On the Scene week of 02/09/06


What a stand-up guy.

Not that stand-up comedian Rich Vos has always been able to avoid being falling-down drunk. But as he prepares to offer his comic relief to a public strung out on serious global misgivings, Vos voices his chai-five of victory: "Besides being a proud parent, I am happy to say that I just celebrated 18 years clean and sober."

Raise a glass yourself – his will be nonalcoholic – to the acclaimed comic when he appears in performances Feb. 22 to Feb. 25 at the Helium Comedy Club in Center City.

Besides being a proud parent, the caustic Comedy Central star is also a highly respectful husband. Just ask Bonnie McFarlane, also a nationally lauded comedian who will share the stage with her husband at Helium.

Family man? Hard to believe it's the same Vos who flossed his early years with alcohol, a Jew from Jersey drowning in the dregs of drugs and self-destruction.

That was then; this is now. High times indeed: Vos was one of the highlights of TV's "The Last Comic Standing," a finalist on the first season of the hit NBC show. Vos' tough-guy veneer was a smooth fit, too, for "Tough Crowd With Colin Quinn" on Comedy Central.

Indeed, his résumé is crowded with TV and festival appearances which once earned him Backstage mag's "New York Comic of the Year" Award.

Grab Bag of Bits 
A Jewish comedian … go figure. But pride in his people's past figures prominently in Vos' life and act. His compassion is no act, however: "We're only 3 percent of the population, but it seems every 'supremacy' group is after us."

After all is said and done, Vos veers himself on occasion in the direction of the politically incorrect. "I go after Arabs at times," he says of his routines.

And who often gets offended by his sheik schtick?

Jews, he says.

What else is in his grab bag of bits? Santa's bag is one he'd like to toy around with: "I'm going to write a bit," says the national headliner, "about what it's like for Jewish kids when they don't get presents from Santa."

His stage presence is savvy and sassy, and so seductive for the VH1/Comedy Central crowd. And if the Helium air leaves him some breathing room, success doesn't come in a vacuum.

Take his past – please! "I went from sleeping wherever I could to having two teenage daughters [from a former marriage] on the honor roll," he says.

On a roll now, the high-school dropout wants those dropping in to see him to just have fun. Although the earth has shifted dramatically on a personal level: "I'm not up on stage to change the world."

That comes from within. And within an hour on stage, Vos is the vogue choice of the hip and hot, the last comic standing up to his harsh past with an appreciation for what it means to stand tall and proud.

But fear not.

He's happy to be where he's at does not make for a comedian too polyannish to take pot shots and make punching bags out of public figures.

Proclaims the comic: "I'm not scared of saying anything."


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