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Comic Bob Golub returns to Boca Raton, blood on his hands

Comic Bob Golub in Boca May 26 with film 'Die Laughing,' a possible TV series he'll film in Fort Lauderdale.

You feel good when Bob Golub says he's not going to kill you, because Golub is a guy who gets things done.

In the late 1980s, the former boxer, who served 18 months in a Pennsylvania prison on a drug charge, was an unknown comedian when he heard Martin Scorsese was making the mob movie "Goodfellas" and decided he was perfect for the pivotal role of crime boss Jimmy "The Gent" Conway. As part of his research for an unlikely audition, Golub went to see infamous New York mobster John Gotti at his hangout, the Bergin Hunt and Fish Club in Ozone Park, Queens.

"I walked up there, and the guys with the necks are standing outside. And I ask, 'Is John in?'" Golub says. "And it's like, 'Uh, who-ah yew? Who-ah yew?' I said, 'I'm an actor.' They go, 'Oh, well, a f---ing actor. Act like a runner and get the f--- outta here.'"

But the one-time Fort Lauderdale resident went back. And went back again. On his final visit, Golub's timing was too good.

"When I got close to Gotti is when they took me for a ride," he says. "That's another story."

Meanwhile, Golub also was stalking Scorsese and, against all odds, wore down the casting directors and got an audition, impressing them enough with his pugnaciousness to score a small part as a mobbed-up truck driver.

"I got that, no agent, no manager, never acted, didn't know anybody. People said, 'You're not going to get to Scorsese.' But every time people say, 'no,' I keep going," Golub says. "I saw I was perfect for that part [of Jimmy Conway]. I didn't know De Niro was gonna do it, ya know?"

On Thursday, May 26, Golub will be at the Black Box Theater in Boca Raton with another improbable dream, his feature-length film "Die Laughing," a jet-black comedy about a touring comedian who also happens to be a serial killer. The evening will include Golub's standup comedy before the film and a Q and A afterward. Golub is no stranger to the room, where he performed when it was known as the New York Comedy Club.

"Die Laughing," a no-budget project four years in the making, was shot with a single camera in a raw, cinema-verite style during Golub's actual tours, with some scenes, unbeknownst to the audience or club owners, cleverly embedded into his live performances.

"Our rule was simple: We keep shooting until they tell us to get out," says Golub, speaking from his home in Los Angeles, where the father of three is a standup comedian and part-time actor (last week he filmed a small part in Danny DeVito's FXX comedy "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia"). "When I say, 'zero budget,' I promise you this, they spend more money on the cream that goes in Tom Cruise's coffee than I did on my whole project."

With "Die Laughing," Golub wanted to explore the dark side behind the light banter of the standup comic — he cites the suicides of Robin Williams and Richard Jeni — as well as the dishonesty he has experienced as a working comic. The film includes a graphic scene of Golub's character torturing a comedy club owner with a microphone stand.

"These people that I whack are people that f---ed me over in my life," he says. "Are people [in the film audience] going to approve of killing? No, but people are going to identify with this guy. Most people have been there."

Friends have described the film as "Louis C.K. meets Dexter," a compliment that Golub appreciates to a point.

"I get it. In Hollywood, it gives them some reference. But this guy would kill Dexter," Golub says of the part-time serial killer in the Showtime hit set in Miami. "Because he's f---ing tougher, and he's real. That was a TV show. This, when you watch the film, you're gonna think it's real."

After the Boca Raton screening, Golub plans to show it in Los Angeles and New York, where his 2006 documentary about his father, "Dodo," won the best docu-comedy award at the 2006 New York International Film Festival, later streaming on Amazon and Netflix.

Golub hopes to create enough interest in "Die Laughing" to turn it into a series, and he's already moving forward with plans to shoot at least 10 episodes this summer in Fort Lauderdale. Golub performed his first standup show at a Fort Lauderdale club called Friendly's more than three decades ago.

"The character goes back, almost like AA, but he's not there to apologize. He's gonna right some wrongs. Two years, 10 years, 35 years, it doesn't matter," says Golub (pointing out that this interview has gone well enough that "you're not gonna be killed").

Golub admits that getting a network to buy his show will be a challenge. Of course, he is undeterred.

"I am shooting 10 episodes, guaranteed. If everyone and their mother says no, I'm doing it. You know I'm very aggressive that way. They can't stop me," he says. "They can't stop me."

Bob Golub will perform and host a screening of "Die Laughing" 6-10 p.m. Thursday, May 26, at the Boca Black Box Center for the Arts, 8221 Glades Road No. 10, in Boca Raton. Tickets cost $15. Call 561-483-9036 or go to BocaBlackBox.com. For more information about the film, go to DieLaughingTheMovie.com.

bcrandell@southflorida.com

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