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"Fastball Pitcher" Bob Gutierrez talks with Philly2Philly.com


The Phillies have lost and now we’ll have to wait a few long, cold, dreary months until professional baseball returns. But never fear; if you’re looking for a baseball fix, and in particularly one that’s pretty off-the-wall, then you should get to know “Fastball Pitcher” Bob Gutierrez.

“Fastball Pitcher” Bob Gutierrez is the single most unique comedy act going in (at least) Philly today. Created and portrayed by Brian Craig (of the sketch comedy group Secret Pants), Gutierrez is a former middle reliever for the Chicago Cubs (who owns a National League record for 52 straight appearances without recording an out and also would be placed in a pinch-hitting role when other teams were looking to bean an opponent), who now tours around the Philly area trying to dispel wisdom and advice through motivational speeches.

Speaking in a thick Chicago-land accent, and introducing himself with the line “Hey there, folks,” the mustachioed Gutierrez has entertained local audiences with his absurd, ridiculous and jovial take on life.

“Bob Gutierrez is just a good-natured oaf,” Craig explained.

Craig came up with the character roughly five years ago. The idea sprung to mind after watching various commercials with famous athletes.

“The very seed of the character came from my fascination with local commercials starring sports ‘celebrities’. The delivery is always so stilted and the copy they're reading is always filled with terrible sports puns, which I find hilarious,” Craig said. “And that got me imagining that there must be some kind of commercial hierarchy correlated to your success as an athlete, where a barely remembered, underperforming middle relief pitcher from the early-to-mid 80s would be the spokesperson for a pretty crummy establishment.”

Craig, along with his cohorts in Secret Pants, planned on filming a documentary called “The Life and Times of ‘Fastball Pitcher’ Bob Gutierrez.” The idea stalled; but Craig, however, always kept the character in the back of his mind.

He finally had his chance to bring Gutierrez back to life last year. It was last November when one local comedy show was holding a tribute to the Philadelphia Phillies. Gutierrez made his public debut and brought the house down. And, since then, he’s never looked back.

One great part about Craig’s performance is that, similar to Andy Kauffman, he tries to stay in character throughout an entire show. Craig does this because he absolutely loves playing the character. It also helps him develop new material by just interacting with fellow comics and audience members. Also, in real life, Craig has a beard. However, Gutierrez doesn’t, so he actually shaves it to get into character, and he feels a need to stay in the role as long as his facial hair hasn’t returned.

“The only times I have trouble staying in character are when somebody's trying to talk to Brian Craig and I keep coming at them with Bob,” Craig said. “Recently, after a show a fellow performer came up to me and told me how much he loved the character and asked if I had a card. Bob Gutierrez responded, ‘Topps 1985’".

One of Craig’s favorite moments while in character came at a show where he did a Q&A with the audience.

“I came up with a bit about Bob giving advice to young kids about baseball, and Bob recommends always wearing a cup. To prove his point, he invites a young lady from the audience to come up onstage to ‘punch me in the wiener.’ So, up from the audience comes a volunteer, my friend Meg (and I assure you this was not set up), and she takes an honest-to-god punch at my cupped wiener. The downside of this bit is that now I've introduced into his reality the fact that he always wears a cup and now every time I perform as him, I have to wear a cup,” Craig said. “But, man, it was worth the reaction.”