What’s Up Interview: Al Ducharme, Rhode Island Comedy Hall of Fame Inductee

When I caught up with Al Ducharme, he was on a cruise ship docked on a private island in the Caribbean. He was on board working as a comedian. “I travel more now than I would like to,” he said. Covid has removed many standing performance options.

Ducharme has been an actor since 1986 and on Saturday July 23, he will be inducted into the Rhode Island Comedy Hall of Fame at Comedy Park. “Coming back to your hometown and being recognized in the Comedy Hall of Fame is a great feeling,” says Ducharme. “The fact that the club hosting the Hall of Fame is in Cranston is a bonus. Of course, the induction takes place in Cranston in July, when everyone is in Cape Town or Matunuck, so I’m not sure anyone will come.

The Cranston native’s “first foray onto the stage” came when he was just 17, at a talent show hosted by Charlie Hall and yours truly at Noah’s Arkade, which later became the Periwinkles Comedy Club. He did not return for three years, while a student at Rhode Island College.

“I was invited to play on weekends. I made a lot of impressions back then. At the time, ‘Scarface’ was released in theaters. My Tony Montana impression involved throwing flour in my face. Flour was a replacement for the cocaine that was so prevalent in the movie. “So I had to clean up before the next act. But I was just happy to be invited to the big stage.

At the end of the night, the manager of the Perwinkles bar called him. “He started giving me money. I said, ‘What is this?’ He said, ‘It’s money, you get paid.’ I was shocked. My reaction was what? Nope.”

It was just $35, “but for a kid in college, it was a month’s worth of gas. Now it’s about an hour.

RICHOF founder Rockin’ Joe Hebert looks forward to Ducharme’s induction. “It’s late, but I’m glad we waited to have a Cranston comedian inducted into a Cranston comedy club.” As for the induction, “it will bring back a lot of memories for all of us who were involved with Periwinkles so many years ago. I’m also happy that Al’s family and friends can see him play and be recognized by the Hall. These things are always fun, and this one is going to be extra special.

Ducharme moved to New York in 1986 and dabbled in comedy. “In 1989, I really started to travel a lot. On the road, university shows, corporate shows. I never looked back from there, and one thing led to another. Voice over, commercial work.

A crowning achievement: landing a recurring role on “F is for Family”, Bill Burr’s animated show on Netflix. “Bill used to open for me. He called me and said he needed someone to do voice overs. Ducharme submitted some samples. “People started contacting me. They sent me a script, then called me for a table read. It was in a hotel reception hall with 120 people. They sat me down at a table next to executives and producers, faces I know from the industry. I thought, shit, this is an important thing.

His character on the show is Anthony, “essentially my act. Every time I do my line, the whole room bursts into laughter. When we’re done, the showrunner says, ‘Welcome to the family.’ I already had the gig. I guess it was my audition.

Ducharme married fellow comedian Bernadette Pauley 18 years ago. “We fell in love with the Comic Strip in New York.” Pauley will appear with Ducharme during his induction weekend.

Now living in Studio City – “it identifies with Los Angeles” – Ducharme says they don’t compete. “She is a total support system for me. She was my greatest cheerleader. She manages a large part of my calendar and the press. She’s more organized than me.

Ducharme’s fondest memory as a performer from Rhode Island came in 1986 when he decided to move to New York. “The comics cooked a roast to wish me luck. I was pretty broke at the time. We were a pretty tight-knit group, all involved in the early days of comedy in Rhode Island. At the end of the night, they gave me part of the door charge along with other gifts. Again, the bar manager twisted his finger and said, “Come here, kid.”

We conclude the conversation with a bit of introspection by Ducharme. “I’m very lucky to earn my living for decades in an industry that doesn’t forgive much. I am very lucky to be able to support myself. »

The Rhode Island Comedy Hall of Fame inducts Al Ducharme Saturday, July 23 at Comedy Park. For complete information, visit www.richof.org.

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