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Robert Kelly: Sex, drums and bang-bangs

Comedian @robertkelly, playing Oct. 8-10 at @ImprovFTL, wants to be a professional drummer.

 Earlier this year, actor-comedian Robert Kelly took a secret crash course on drumming, an experience that satisfied his childhood dream of rock stardom but left the New York comic feeling baffled.

Three times a week for two months, Kelly says he learned basic percussion on an electric drum kit through "a Scottish friend over Skype," telling only immediate family but no friends, in preparation for his role as the drummer Bam Bam on Denis Leary's new FX comedy "Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll."

"It was weird, because Denis [Leary] never asked if I could play," Kelly recalls in a phone interview. "Then, I found out he wrote the part specifically for me. I was like, 'What, dude? That's a pretty big assumption that I would just learn to play the drums, man.'"

But Kelly, who will perform Friday Oct. 9 and Saturday, Oct. 10, at the Fort Lauderdale Improv, hardly cares how he landed on "Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll" opposite co-stars Leary, John Corbett ("My Big Fat Greek Wedding") and Elizabeth Gillies (Nickelodeons "Victorious"). While on set with Leary, who plays an aging grunge rocker who reunites with old bandmates, Kelly found himself preening for the rock icons who visited the show, including Joan Jett, Dave Grohl and Greg Dulli of the Afghan Whigs. (Dulli, a consultant on set, helped Leary write the show's original music.)

"[Greg] walked in when [Leary] and John were talking, and I butted in and said to Greg, 'You're the coolest dude I've ever met. Denis was pissed. He's like, 'Well, what about me?! Hah?'" Kelly says, channeling Leary's gravelly Boston accent. "He threw that scene into the show. Leary and I have this Abbott and Costello kind of rapport, where we'd argue and he'd tell me to go f--- myself and I'd say, 'That hurt my feelings,' and he'd go, 'What?'"

For all Kelly's inexperience, he says cameras never lingered too long on his nascent drumming skills.

"They had backups, trust me," he says with a laugh. "I knew they had drum fills, and the camera would roll right past me and fix on Liz [Gilles] and Elaine [Hendrix], the hot girls in the show, so it wouldn't catch my mess-ups."

Kelly, who caught his first acting break opposite Leary in the 2001 ABC series "The Job," has always counted himself more versatile with acting than comedy. Adding "professional drummer" to his resume, of course, would create what Kelly dubs "the holy trifecta."

"I could be a standup comic, an actor on TV and a drummer," Kelly says. "I told my wife, 'I want way more respect than you give me. I should have sex whenever I want.'"

Kelly's acting has earned him plenty of respect in recent years, with appearances in Amy Schumer's recent summer film "Trainwreck," and for playing Louis C.K.'s "brother" on another FX comedy, "Louie." In one of the show's memorable segments, the fictional siblings partake in an eating extravaganza called the "bang-bang," in which both eat two restaurant meals back-to-back in the same sitting (example: Indian-Diner, Italian-Chinese). Kelly admits a handful of his friends credited him, not Louis C.K., for the concept.

"Louis came up with it," Kelly says. "I know. Sounds like me, right? Louis's a fatty, too. Do you have any photos of him with abs? When I read the script, I told him, 'You know this is going to become a thing, right?' He's like, 'Yeah, I know.'"

Kelly, "on occasion," indulges in real-life "bang-bangs" before standup at New York's Comedy Cellar, usually with club regular Colin Quinn.

"[Colin and I] both ordered whole pizzas, and we had 20 minutes to finish," Kelly recalls. "He'd always finish before me because he didn't eat the crust, and I'm like, 'That's illegal.' That's pizza law. You're on the next slice, and I'm stuck with this bubble-tumor crust."

Robert Kelly will perform at 8 and 10:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 9; and 7 p.m. and 9:45 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 10, at Fort Lauderdale Improv, 5700 Seminole Way, in Hollywood. His Thursday performances have been canceled. Call the box office for refunds. Admission is $20, and includes a two-drink minimum. Call 954-981-5653 or go to FtL.Improv.com.

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