Atlanta’s Gerald Kelly and son Hunter, 7, do dueling stand-up sets on ‘America’s Got Talent’

Gerald and his son Hunter Kelly do competing stand-up sets on 'America's Got Talent." NBC
Caption
Gerald and his son Hunter Kelly do competing stand-up sets on 'America's Got Talent." NBC

Credit: NBC

Credit: NBC

Gerald has been a stand-up comic for 30 years and has three kids who do comedy.

Atlanta stand-up comic Gerald Kelly, 53, has been a club headliner for many years but has yet to get that big break that could propel him into a national spotlight.

HIs appearance on Monday’s “America’s Got Talent” on NBC may have changed that in part because he did a dueling stand-up set with his seven-year-old son Hunter.

The unusual combo delighted the judges. Gerald’s set focused on the difficulties of parenting, covering familiar ground like homework and raising boys vs. girls. The judges gave him a mostly solid review, not knowing what was coming next.

Howie Mandel, a stand-up comic himself, said Gerald is really likable, with good timing and stage presence. “I didn’t love the material as much as I love you,” he said. Heidi Klum, who has kids, found his material relatable. Simon Cowell said it started well but didn’t have a “dynamic end.” Still, Cowell said he laughed a lot and felt like the audience at home will like him.

Gerald got four yesses and made it to the next round.

Afterwards, Cowell noted that Gerald was nervous. Mandel said he plowed through the nerves.

Hunter then arrived on stage and judge Sofia Vergara quickly figured out he was Gerald’s son.

“Are you better than your dad?” she asked.

“I’m way better than my dad!” Hunter said.

Hunter’s critique of his dad: “I think he needs more personality.”

“You know he got four yesses,” Vergara countered.

“He got four yeses because I helped him!’ Hunter said.

His short comedy set consisted of him roasting his dad. “I’m seven years old and we have basically the same job!” he said.

He joked about how his dad told him never to get in a car with a stranger, but they took an Uber to the show.

Then Hunter blanked and repeated his name, ad-libbing, “I just don’t want you to forget my name.”

He said his favorite comedian is Kevin Hart, not his dad. “We both have a lot in common. We’re both funny and we’re both the same height!”

Vergara said Hunter’s comedic timing is “unbelievable.” Mandel noted that Hunter lost his way for a moment but handled it like a pro. Cowell said he was “taken aback because you’re the same age as Eric [Simon’s son]. I think you have a fantastic opportunity. Like your dad, America is going to fall in love with you.”

Hunter got four yeses, too.

In an interview before their appearance aired on NBC, Gerald said he has appeared over the years on “BET ComicView” and HBO’s “Def Comedy Jam,” among other specials. “I’ve had a beautiful blessed career,” he said.

He said he has a wide range of comedic styles. “I can do raw comedy. I can do a clean Christian comedy show. I’m very diverse in my standup,” he said.

He has two other sons (ages 15 and 29) who do stand-up comedy as well. He said Hunter began doing stage work telling jokes at age three and quickly figured out he was a natural.

While other comics Gerald knew in the 1990s and 2000s such as Kevin Hart have found bigger fame, he said he isn’t jealous. He said he just keeps striving to to be better. “If you can work hard at this thing, you can really supersede any expectation imaginable,” Gerald said.

The challenge with “AGT” is the condensed time. He said he had only a couple of minutes to tell jokes compared to his usual 45-minute set.

Gerald, who grew up in New York and now lives in Hiram, used to travel to Atlanta in the 1990s and work the Uptown Comedy Corner in Buckhead. He got to know the owner Gary Abdo well.

Abdo, who now owns the Atlanta Comedy Theater in Norcross, said he is glad to see Gerald get this opportunity.

“He is an underrated comedian,” Abdo said. “He’s an absolute beast on stage. He’s just never gotten that break that puts him in front of an audience that changes his career dynamic. Doing the show with his son is a wonderful hook. This will do great things for him.”

Gerald said he hopes to eventually put a sitcom together that is like his life with three sons who are also stand-up comics.

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