MANCHESTER, Tenn. (AP) — If the comedy thing doesn’t work out, Craig Robinson has an easy second career lined up: musician.
Robinson, a comedian and actor probably best known as Darryl on “The Office,” brought a smokin’ hot seven-piece band – The Nasty Delicious – to the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival on Saturday evening, and turned the comedy tent into a dance hall.
“It’s my first love,” Robinson said. “I used to play the piano as soon as I could reach it. My mother was first-chair cello in college. She was a singer, an organist. Our house, when we came up, you were going to piano lessons no matter what else you were doing, so it’s a part of me.”
The 42-year-old Chicago resident isn’t stopping at his stand-up comedy set. He’s also incorporating music into his first starring role on television. He’ll play a music teacher on his new sit-com “Mr. Robinson,” in development for NBC – the network that first introduced Robinson to a larger audience as the loveably surly warehouse foreman on “The Office.”
He also stars as Maceo in the James Brown biopic “Get On Up,” out in August.
After decades of work, Robinson finds he’s reached several of the goals he’s set for himself.
“It gets to the point where you’re living it and you want to climb the mountain, and all the sudden you get to a spot where, `Oh, this is nice. This is beautiful here,’ and get comfortable,” Robinson said. “And so I’m trying to make myself uncomfortable. What I mean is instead of doing my set, I’ve got this incredible band and we can go and do whatever, and they’ve got my back. Yes, I’m doing more music and less comedy, and some people be like, `What the hell is this,’ and whatever.”
Robinson and the Nasty Delicious use music in much the same way Brown did, building crowd excitement through high-energy musical interludes with Robinson and band members vamping to fans. At one point, he had the crowd remove the temporary seating in front of the stage to turn the area into a dance floor. He waded into the crowd and celebrated with fans for several minutes as the band cycled through hits like “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and “Thriller.”
The set was therapeutic in a lot of ways for Robinson. He was forced to cancel his first appearance Friday and postpone Saturday’s show due to the death of a close cousin. He also was in a car wreck recently when a driver went the wrong way down the freeway in Chicago.
He could easily have canceled the trip to Manchester, but decided to seek solace in the celebration.
“So it was like we’re lucky to be here, you know what I’m saying,” Robinson said. “In that respect, you don’t know when you’re going to go so you might as well enjoy yourself.”
Follow AP Music Writer Chris Talbott: http://twitter.com/Chris-Talbott .