'The voice,' comedian Craig Gass grew up in deaf family
For the second time in a month, a national celebrity – a.k.a. Craig Gass – made the Hampton Inn & Suites Hotel at 2100 Post Road in Warwick his weekend home. He flew here from Los Angeles for a special two-show performance at the famed Comedy Connection in East Providence. In early March award-winning author and actor Robert Krantz stayed at the hotel while on a local speaking tour.
“I was absolutely flabbergasted when I heard the voice,” said Hampton General Manager Jay Visnjic. “I actually thought I was talking with Al Pucino! Craig also greeted me with a bit of Tom Arnold and later Morgan Freeman. This man is incredible.”
Craig Gass is also unique.
For starters, Gass grew up near the Bronx, NY but he literally hates the New York Yankees.
“I was born in Mount Vernon (NY),” Gass, who was born on Feb. 15, 1970, said the other morning. “When I was about seven or eight, my father took me to a game at the (Yankee) Stadium. After I saw how people were acting, I said there’s no way I want to be part of this.”
But his dislike for the Yankees is only a smidgeon of Gass’ extraordinary story.
“Everyone in my family is completely deaf!” Gass said. “My mother was born with a birth defect that resulted in her being deaf. My father got into an automobile accident years ago that caused severe damage to his eardrums and caused him to go deaf. My sister was born deaf!”
Gass though, who has amazed radio and television audiences all over the country with his extraordinary impersonations of national celebs, had his father’s genes and never had a hearing deficiency.
And because his mother and father were deaf, Gass had no one to talk to – or even learn to talk – as most kids do during their younger years.
“I learned to talk by listening to different voices on television,” Gass explained. “I used to copy all kinds of voices ... the weirder the voice the easier it was for me to do. But thank goodness I never picked up that New York accent!”
But Gass, who now does voices on such popular shows as Family Guy, and his sister were still at a disadvantage in their younger years. Thus, the family picked up stakes and moved to Arizona so that his sister could go to a nationally-acclaimed high school for deaf children.
As for Gass?
“I was the class clown,” he mused of his days in a public high school. “I was always pushing the teacher’s buttons. I got into trouble and my mother had to come to school. Naturally, I had to interpret everything the principal was saying to my mother ... I’d tell her (via sign language) that everything is okay and that there was no longer a problem. No need to worry, mom!”
But school just wasn’t for Gass.
“I never finished high school and did not go to college,” Gass went on. “When I was 23 I moved to Seattle and started doing stand-up comedy and radio. Bob Rivers, a well-respected radio personality really helped me. That led to me working with Howard Stern on his show ...”
And it’s safe to say that is has been life on the road for Gass ever since.
He has been doing stand-up comedy since 1993 when he decided to get revenge on a group of comedians who had ridiculed him for attempt to perform at an open mic.
Gass also worked on HBO’s Sex and the City and he once co-starred with Alec Baldwin on NBC’s Las Vegas as well as the on-gong popular television series Law & Order. He has also appeared on a myriad of famous radio shows as well as such TV hits as the Byron Allen Show.
He’s well-traveled as he has performed all over the United States and in parts of Europe and Australia.
“I just got back from New Zealand,” Gass explained. “Life is good!”
It wasn’t always good nor was his younger years any bundle of joy. He acquired his peculiar talent of imitating characters and actors by – as noted above – learning to speak as a child from watching television.
Last weekend he brought his talents to Rhode Island. He thoroughly enjoyed his stay at he Hampton Inn & Suites, where everyone from Visnjic to the super staffers treated him like royalty.
When asked if he is married, Gass, now 42, replied: “Huh?”