“You know, having a seizure isn’t that funny,” Grooms tells New Times. “Having brain surgery isn’t funny. I managed to tell the story.”
The surgery took a toll on Grooms physically and professionally. In addition to getting 24 staples in his head, he was ordered to take it easy. He couldn’t perform until May 2019; the two-month interval was the longest he had been away from the stage in his more than 20-year improv comedy career.
Miami filmmaker Dean A. Gonzalez was part of the aforementioned crew. It just so happened he had been trying to shoot a comedy special with Grooms since 2017.
“I just wanted everything to be as natural as possible,” Gonzalez says of his directorial approach. “Attention to detail, like handpicking the audience just to make sure the look is good for the front-view camera."
In order to find the funny in his near-death experience, Grooms went through the trial-and-error process of telling his story on various stages throughout Miami. Unable to drive for six months after his surgery, Grooms describes the “pain in the ass” of taking Ubers to gigs while he was searching for the right words to tell his story.
“Once my driving ban was over, it was easier,” Grooms shares. “I was up [onstage] three, four times a week locally. Once I really started going hard on my special, I started booking road gigs so that I could do an hour.”
Coincidentally, Grooms’ inaugural road gig was in his hometown of Perth Amboy, New Jersey. It marked the first time he'd been back since his surgery.
As is the norm with filmed comedy specials, two of Grooms’ shows were taped. He staged an earlier show for friends and family, followed by a 10 p.m. performance for a general audience. Naturally, the 7 p.m. taping had a more personal atmosphere than the later set.
“People who were at both tapings said the first one was a little more intimate, so I was a little more vulnerable,” Grooms shares. “I’m happier with the second set.”
The comedian was sure to give props to the person who made Brain Humor, and indeed Grooms' continued existence, possible: The doctor who performed his life-saving surgery was in attendance at the first show.
“I gave him a shout-out,” Grooms laughs.
Brain Humor is slated for online release March 8. For more information, visit kylegrooms.net.