Theater instructor fills busy schedule with lectures, laughter


Courtesy of Timothy Joyce

Buffalo State theater lecturer Timothy Joyce teaches and naps by day, but turns into a frenetic funnyman by night, drawing inspiration from his own South Buffalo upbringing to elicit laughs.

You can pick your professors, but you can’t pick your professors’ noses.

Timothy Joyce, comedian and SUNY Buffalo State lecturer, has never blown his nose.

Though he admits that fun fact may be a bit “psychotic,” he believes he has some sort of mental block against the action. Fear not, he has saved money from not buying tissues and hopes to buy a yacht named “Big Dave.”

That’s also a name that he says he’s obsessed with and repeatedly uses in his comedy skits, which have led him to drive over a million miles and perform in 40 states.

I recently spoke with Joyce, hoping to hear his life story and have a good laugh. In between his dog barking because it “wants to kill the neighbor,” the professor laid out his life story for me, in a rather comical way.

On a typical day, the “overly busy” Joyce wakes up late, swears, gets dressed quickly, runs around and drives dangerously to work. Here, he teaches three “fun” classes in a row, meets with students, then naps, runs, and does stand-up at night.

Joyce, a Buffalo State theater major alum (1984), former Casting Hall president, and Mina Goossen Award recipient, brought what he learned in the Queen City and moved to where he says the big theater destination was in the mid ‘80s — Chicago, Ill. He began studying improvisation at The Second City, performing in plays and acting in small parts on TV,

Joyce then hit the road, focusing on stand-up comedy.

No matter how far he traveled or how funny he got, Joyce never forgot his Bengal roots.

Year after year, he returned to his alma mater to teach an annual workshop. After 20 years, the program became a tradition that both Joyce and Buffalo State wanted to continue.

In the spring of 2009, Drew Kahn, theater department chair at the time, asked Joyce if he’d be interested in teaching at the university if he ever moved back. Ironically, Joyce and his wife were already planning on moving back.

“Buffalo has always been home to me,” Joyce said.

He said there are a lot of people coming back to city of Buffalo.

“There’s something about this region,” Joyce said. “It hooks your heart, and you don’t want to give it back.”

He was eager to “come full circle” and be a teacher in his former department.

Now Joyce is in the middle of his fifth year teaching at Buffalo State, and hopes he gets to do it for the rest of his life.

He enjoys teaching and says that it’s a rewarding revelation, explaining it as a “similar thrill to being on stage.”

In addition to teaching, Joyce also enjoys performing in a lot of theater around town, including stand-up comedy shows. He says his high-energy stand-up persona is “very much (him.)”

His next performance is at 8 p.m. on Nov. 16 at Comedy Night at the Buffalo Irish Center.

He said his material is very personal and confessional. Joyce uses a lot of expression and body movements to talk about himself, such as his being married for 30 years.

He says that his wife, who he met in high school, is “unbelievably funny,” and they still make each other laugh, which is important.

In addition to acting in local performances such as “Shakespeare in Delaware Park,” Joyce also can add to his resume that he wrote five plays that were produced in Chicago.

“My biggest thrill is having plays I’ve written being performed with people acting in them,” he said.

One specific play that he wants to have produced in Buffalo is “Tell me about Ireland,” which takes place in Cazenovia Park in South Buffalo. The story is similar to how Joyce grew up, in a large blue-collar family with a father who worked at Bethlehem Steel.

Joyce remembered fondly that when Warren Enters was once describing him, he said, “You can take the boy out of South Buffalo, but you can’t take the South Buffalo out of the boy.”

From teaching, to performing and writing plays, Joyce said he wears a lot of hats, “and it’s not just because (he’s) losing his hair.”

As for Joyce’s students that hope to have busy and funny careers like his, he says “Commit to it, do it, and don’t be afraid of where it takes you. People don’t fail, they quit. Stick with your talent for a career doing what you love.”

Joyce said that because he never turned down an opportunity, it took him places and led to his current success. He even wrote a new Intro to theater book, which will be used next semester both in the theater department at Buffalo State and around the nation.

If it’s successful, Joyce says he’ll use his extra tissue money and the book profits to finally buy “Big Dave.”


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Twitter: LiveWithColly