Join Comedians Norm Stulz, Bill Bushart, Dave Landau, and Bryan McCree for a night of laughs at the TCA on January 25. The Legends of Michigan Comedy show is being emceed by local favorite Steve Smargon.
Norm first encountered the love of laughter in the second grade at Lodge Elementary in Detroit Michigan. It was after he wrote a funny little story and turned it in to his teacher who found it funny, and much like a coach recognizing athletic ability she saw his humor and encouraged him to tell the story in front of the classroom and as the laughter flowed over him it became clear that this feeling would be a part of the fabric of his life. Performing the routine for the school assembly solidified the response was not just from childhood friends but from strangers as well. Norm was a part of each years assembly every year and grew to include costumes and props.
While attending Murphy Junior High school in the seventh grade, one of the students running for class president asked Norm to write and perform a skit as part of his campaign. A rule was put into place stating that if Norm Stulz wrote and performed for one candidate, he would have to do so for each candidate if so asked. And asked he was. One memorable skit was a send up of Ben Casey, a popular physician based television show at the time who had a mentor character named Dr. Zorba, the elderly, wise and a little funny side kick. Norm used a bathing cap and wig along with a small white lab coat to transform himself into the good Dr. Zorba, and included his trademark posters of Life, Death, and Infinity. Norm added a poster “And this is my Kitty Cat Whiskers.” Funny juvenile humor appreciated at that level. It was also at this time he met a girl who would go on to share the rest of his life. Sharon Marie Shepherd was asked to go steady and presented a gold band which she wears behind her diamonds to this day.
While attending Redford High School Norm played in the concert and marching band and noticing that the office had “office aids” talked his band director into allowing him to start a group of “band aids,” who had the hall pass ability to fetch friends out of other boring classes to come to the music room for jam sessions. While serious about the music the laughter accompanied each note. The concert band was challenged by director Jerry Burns to play the 13 major scales up and down within 60 seconds. The hallways were strewn with young musicians practicing, not Norm, he simply asked a friend to play them when needed as Norm pretended (first lip sync ever) to play them, the band was so shocked at the notes coming out of his baritone horn that when he finished (Tom Orton finished) they broke into applause and Norm stood and raised his horn above his head and smiled down to Mr Jerry Burns. The next morning Norm walked into the band office and told Mr. Burns he had a confession about his scales, the director looked up and said “Orton played them, I saw you take two breaths while the tone was still coming out. It was just too funny and perfectly timed to spoil the moment!” It was with the Redford High School marching band that Norm attained his first national television credit as they performed for Bob Barker on his hit show Truth or Consequences. A Vietnam veteran returning surprised his wife by dressing in a band uniform and marching past his wife till she recognized him. Norm was never the Class Clown the student who interrupted class, he was the class comedian who embellished the points. All of his teachers enjoyed having him in the class, and the classmates seemed to enjoy it as well.
In 1981 Norm took his first step onto the professional comedy stage at The Castle. Back stage, which was really just the back of the room, Norm met numerous comedians awaiting their turn to the stage. Norm met Hey Hey Danny Grey, Willy Tyler and Lester, Tim Lilly, Jerry Elliott, and Tim Dick who went by the stage name Tim Allen.
After his first 10 minute set to a sold out Monda night open mic audience and watching the other comics work on their sets Norm felt he was in the right place. As the weeks turned into months of open mic sets at the Castle and Bea’s Comedy Kitchen in downtown Detroit, Mark Ridley asked if Norm would stop by and do 20 minutes on Tuesday and Thursday. At this time of his life any extra money was big money for Norm as his wife Sharon had presented him with another son and a daughter and that money paid the grocery bill for the week.
It was Bob Saget who contacted Norm and asked him to come to California to film a spot for the CBS Morning Comedy series he was hosting at the time. It was 1987 and Norm took to the sky to find Hollywood for the first of many times.
Bud Freidman from the Improv in Los Angeles was a judge in Detroit for The Johnny Walker Comedy Competition. This was the midwest regional finals, before televised shows, and “producers” having a word on who was the best. Just a good old live comic verses comic throw down. Norm not only won the competition, Bud himself asked Norm to come to Los Angeles to film an episode of An Evening at the Improv for the A & E Network.
As winner of the Johnny Walker contest, Norm and other regional winners were sponsored by National Lampoon and flown to Las Vegas to film the National Competition for Showtime Network. Norm worked with Leslie Neilsen.The award winning CBS television show filmed a documentary entitled “Survival of the Funniest” and Erin Moriarty followed Norm through a normal day in his life. The film crew followed Norm as he shopped, ate and prepared for the evenings competition in Detroit. Norm won that competition and the show aired before the Showtime special. Norm has appeared on many local television commercials and comedy specials.
While making a living is important Norm has always felt that giving back was the most rewarding part of the entertainment business. Norm has received awards from Jerry Lewis, Gilda’s House, The American Cancer Society, Breast Cancer Awareness, The Johnny Burke Children’s Foundation, The Easter Seals, Toys for Tots, Pancreatic Cancer, Make A Wish, Children’s Miracle Network, and many private fundraising performances for needy families.
Corporate America has found Norm Stulz as well. Norm has performed for hundreds of corporations such as General Motors, General Foods, Westinghouse, Dow Chemical, the FBI, National Sheriff’s Convention, along with numerous others. The ability to hit any language parameter allows Norm to perform for audiences in any setting, from a fourth grade schoolroom to a gated senior center.
As always there is more to the story, come to a Norm Stulz performance and let him fill in the blanks while at the performance, breath as often as you can and watch the amount of eye makeup you are willing to see streaked down your cheeks. He will tell you the rest of the story.
Norm is living his Happily Ever After & enjoying it with laughter.
The Legends of Michigan Comedy Show will shake the winter chill off on Saturday, January 25 at the TCA. Doors open at 6:30 pm. Tickets are $30 for adults and $25 for seniors and military members (Adult Content – Not Recommended for Youth). Tickets can be purchased at 517-423-6617, at the box office located at 400 N. Maumee Street, or on-line at www.thetca.org. Tecumseh Center for the Arts’ 39th season is sponsored by Three Dudes and Dinner. The National Touring Season is sponsored in part by Tuckey’s Big Boy and Carpet on Wheels. The Legends of Michigan Comedy Show Sponsor is TLC Community Credit Union.
Behind the scenes of Tecumseh Center for the Arts.