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Future Ed Mc ‘Merman’?
Thomas J. Kelly may say he is a comedian, but after his latest project, he can proudly call himself the first ever Merman of Florida’s “Weeki Wachee Springs”.
His innovative style has taken him beyond a series of stage acts and stand-up tours. The Quinnipiac alumnus has not only performed live comic shows, he has extended his talents to communication’s most recent mass medium, the internet. He hosts an internet talk show, and has produced and written, not to mention starred in the internet video show ‘Little Merman’. However, right here at Quinnipiac is where Kelly started it all.
Reminiscing about his college days, Kelly says that he came to Quinnipiac because, “they took me, and I was lucky they did.” Among the first generation of communications students to experience the Ed McMahon Communications building, Kelly was introduced to a wide variety of faculty which aided him in his steps toward the entertainment industry.
“I know this will sound corny, but it was accessibility and a few caring staff members who I met when I was looking for ‘the college,'” Kelly said.
As Quinnipiac’s first station manager of Q30, the on-campus television station, Kelly created what we watch today on Channel 30. “I’d come on two or three times a semester and host a talk show that I call either dumbed down Letterman or a smart Tom Green,” Kelly said.
He continued, “It was young people with dreams putting on shows for the sake of putting on shows and learning a bit on the way.”
The comedic side of Kelly has taken him far. His first job was an internship at “Conan O’Brien” which lead to a job at the “Rosie O’Donnell” Show. Each step Kelly took in his career lead him to another great job; making connections and staying in touch along the way. “Rosie recommended me to Bill Geddie and Barbara Walters. I auditioned and they hired me.”
Today, Kelly works for, “The View” in New York City as a performer before the show and during commercial breaks. Kelly says of the job, “The audience is full of women who want me to date their sisters and daughters, but who wouldn’t date me themselves if they were still single.”
In addition, Kelly writes material for comedy radio shows on local stations.
Although he did not ever forsee himself working these jobs, he says, “There are so many ways I didn’t know you could be creative and make a living. I never imagined this because I never knew it was there.”
The unknown Kelly refers to is the success that could be obtained via the internet. Just a few of his current projects include a “wedding humor site” called Ihateweddings.com and a radio show ThisShowAgain.com. However, his major success stems from an online show, “The Little Merman” which is viewable at LittleMerman.com.
“The premise of the show is that the mighty Thomas J. Kelly is on the brink of quitting comedy after 8 years of doing stand up. He decides that his new calling is to quit comedy and to save “Florida’s Weeki Wachee” underwater mermaid show by becoming the first male mermaid in the theme park’s sixty year history,” he explained.
The first six episodes are currently posted on the website, following Kelly from the audition process to his training with the senior mermaid, “Abby”. Kelly hopes that through the show he can not only get signed for broadcast television, but also to save the park which has been in danger of being shut down for the past few years. His dedication is evident through the amount of effort drained into his own career, pursuing every possible path to success. Throughout the filming of the show, he was flying back and forth from Orlando, Fla. to his auditions for “The View.”
He has spent almost ten years working in comedy, and is still working towards his college dreams, using YouTube as a new outlet for his creativity and talents. Kelly’s persistent effort provides much to be admired.
“Do what you love to do. Do it for the love of doing it. If you work hard, you’re persistent and you’re lucky the cards will fall into place, “were his words of wisdom to all Quinnipiac students, not just those looking to entertain.
As for students with determined dreams and goals Kelly said, “Shoot for the stars . . . but don’t be afraid to get a few cups of coffee along the way.”