Boston comic Orlando Baxter has more to celebrate this season than most of us. On Wednesday, he was scheduled to return from Zanzibar after a two-week honeymoon. Then he was planning a couple of days of club shows before performing on the biggest stage of his career. On Saturday at TD Garden, he’ll be doing stand-up alongside Pete Davidson, Bill Burr, Lenny Clarke, Alex Edelman, Rachel Feinstein, Robert Kelly, Marc Maron, Tammy Pescatelli, and host Denis Leary at the 27th Comics Come Home, the comedy showcase that benefits the Cam Neely Foundation for cancer care.
“As a comic,” says Baxter, “when you haven’t been onstage for a few weeks, usually you just jump in and do a show. But this is the show. [It’s] one thing, you know, not having a good set in front of a few people …” Baxter laughs, not completing the thought.
But he’s confident he’ll be fine on the Garden stage. He’s been a staple of the Boston scene for nearly 20 years and has performed in theaters as well as clubs. But it’s still hard to extrapolate from those experiences to a Garden crowd.
“I’m excited to perform in front of that many people,” he says. “I just want the experience of knowing how to adjust on the fly, because, you know, you can’t duplicate that on a regular stage. Like, what’s that laugh going to be like? And how’s that gonna impact what comes out my mouth next?”
Every year, Comics Come Home reserves one slot for a comedian still working in Boston. The comics are scouted by Mike Clarke, Lenny’s brother, who once booked the legendary Ding Ho comedy club and currently operates Giggles Comedy Club in Saugus. Leary calls him “the Theo Epstein of Boston comedy,” referencing the former Red Sox general manager who assembled a championship team.
“The local comic spot is something we consider giving back to the Boston comedy scene we have all been so fortunate to start out in,” says Leary by email. “It really harks back to the early days when the big stars of the scene — Lenny Clarke and Steve Sweeney and Don Gavin — gave so many of us the chance to get stage time at their Ding Ho shows. Which were always sold out. And the audience came to see those guys, not us. But Lenny, Steve, and Don were really devoted to helping the new comics get better.”
Comics Come Home has a tradition of unannounced special guests, especially during the musical segments, and this year will be no different. “There’s a big surprise at the top of the show and a really unique performance of ‘The [Expletive] Song’ with two guests,” says Leary. “You’ll never believe who they are. First and only time ever probably.” The song in question comes from Leary’s 1993 breakthrough album, “No Cure for Cancer,” and is played every year at Comics Come Home with his backup band.
After Comics Come Home, Baxter’s schedule doesn’t let up for the rest of the month. On Nov. 11, he’ll co-headline two shows at Giggles with recent “America’s Got Talent” semifinalist Maureen Langan. The following Friday, he’ll premiere the pilot episode of an independent sitcom called “Hollywoo: The Show,” which he co-wrote and stars in with his friend Tommy Jay Dwyer.
Conceived during the pandemic when Baxter and Dwyer had lulls in their schedule, “Hollywoo” is a series about a disgraced Hollywood actor who returns home to Worcester facing humbling career prospects. “The original idea was: Let’s do a small promo of it,” he says. “And then we were like, well, if we can get the people in this, this interest, and everybody wanting to do it and kind of help out, let’s just shoot the whole episode.”
Looking ahead, Baxter will be releasing a podcast within the next couple of months called “T.H.I.S.” (it stands for “This Happened In School”). Baxter, a former high school teacher in the Worcester area, will interview guests about their own school experiences. “It’s just gonna be a podcast about all the crazy things that happened at school with a bunch of different guests and guest comics from around the world,” says Baxter. Last year, he produced his own YouTube stand-up special, “Live from South High,” recorded at the school where he was a student and later taught.
He has a new special in the works that will cover getting married and getting older. It will also introduce his audiences to the experiences he’s had traveling the world as a stand-up. “A lot of people don’t even realize that part about me,” he says. “I performed in Pakistan, and I’m not talking about for troops. I had some really crazy, interesting times. Performed in South Africa [too].”
But first, he’ll have to tackle the Garden. “At the end of the day, you’re being funny, just being yourself,” he says. “[You’ve] got your material, and you just want to deliver it the best that you can deliver it, and just try to have fun.”
COMICS COME HOME 27
A benefit for the Cam Neely Foundation. Nov. 4 at 8 p.m. At TD Garden. $65-$165. www.ticketmaster.com
Nick A. Zaino III can be reached at email@example.com.