Robert L. Hines
|Robert L. Hines|
Hines in 2012.
|Birth name||Robert Lazarik Hines|
January 17, 1970 |
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
|Medium||Stand-up, film, television, web series|
|Education||Chicago Vocational High School|
|Genres||Observational comedy, character comedy, improvisational comedy|
|Subject(s)||family, incarceration, marriage, overeating|
|Notable works and roles||Toby Jones – Toby Jones Big ASS
(viral video series)
Robert Lazarik Hines (born January 17, 1970) is an American stand-up comedian and actor.
Hines was born in Chicago, Illinois to Vera Mae (née King) and Bobby Frank Hines. He attended Chicago Vocational High School on Chicago’s South Side. In August 1988, Hines enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserves and was a reservist for six years, serving as a Cannon Crewman, Field Artillery.
Cook County Jail
To support himself while honing his skills as a stand-up comedian, Hines began working as a Correctional Officer at Chicago’s Cook County Jail in 1994, at the age of 24. He quit the job in 2003 when he was cast to star in the independent comedy movie, Chasing Robert, which featured performances by Andy Dick, Larry Miller, Paul Provenza, Rick Overton and Dan Castellaneta.
Hines started doing stand-up comedy at the age of 21. His first performance was in June 1991 at the Funny Firm, a Chicago comedy club owned by Len Austrevitch, who would later cast Hines in his first film roles. After his set, Hines met local comedians Bernie Mac, Evan Lionel, Daran Howard and Shay Shay (Phillip White). Mac and Lionel booked Hines on the spot for their Monday night show at Chicago's Cotton Club, where Hines continued to appear for nearly a year. All four comedians became mentors and friends of Hines. From 1991 to 1996, Daran Howard tapped Hines to perform in his Laugh Fest College Comedy Tour with shows targeted to historically Black colleges. Hines credits Shay Shay with helping him learn to make his comedy more personal, telling Steven Johnson of the Chicago Tribune, “Shay told me I've got to show them my pain.”
In addition to touring and club performances (primarily in the Midwest), Hines has made a number of national TV appearances, including BET’s Comic View, Comedy Central’s Comic Justice and Fox’s Uptown Comedy Club. In 1995, Hines was nominated for the Sammy Davis, Jr. Musical Comedy Award by BET’s Comic View Comedy Awards TV show.
In 2008, Hines was cast to portray the character Toby Jones in an internet commercial spoof titled Jones’ Big Ass Truck Rental and Storage produced by Big Dog Eat Child— a Chicago sketch comedy group. The ad featured a real web address and Hines’ actual cellphone number and was inspired by the local hard-sell TV commercials the creators— brothers Pedro Castro and Ramiro Castro— saw growing up in Chicago. The two had spotted Hines during a stand-up comedy performance at Chicago’s Lakeshore Theater in January 2008.
The Jones’ Big Ass Truck Rental and Storage video was released in November 2008, and became a viral video sensation, garnering over 700,000 hits in its first two weeks of release. Hines received hundreds of calls to his cellphone from all over the world, with many people believing the spot was advertising a real business.
In April 2009, Big Dog Eat Child released Jones’ Good ASS BBQ and Foot Massage, and followed with Jones’ Cheap ASS Prepaid Legal and Daycare Academy in November 2009. Subsequent releases have included recordings of actual phone messages left on ‘Toby’s’ voice mail, a series of “Ask Toby” advice videos and spoofs of ‘Legal Retraction & Clarification’ videos from the ‘urban entrepreneur’.
Recognition for the videos (often in competition with real commercials) has often been as wacky as the spots themselves:
- Esquire.com’s Daniel Murphy included Jones’ Big Ass Truck Rental and Storage among “The Five Most Terrifying Local TV Christmas Commercials”.
- Jimmy Traina at Sports Illustrated.com named it “Commercial of the Day”.
- In the UK, Channel 4’s Rude Tube TV show listed Jones’ Big Ass Truck Rental and Storage at #13 on its list of the top 50 viral videos.
- Duncan Riley of The Inquisitor urged his readers to, “Check out the funniest home made commercial of the year.”
- Zagat, the famed food and restaurant guide, named Jones’ Good ASS BBQ and Foot Massage one of “The 8 Wackiest BBQ Commercials”.
During the NBA Playoffs in 2016, Stephen Curry, the all-star guard for the Golden State Warriors, stayed loose before games by dancing and singing with arena employees to the Jones' Barbecue and Foot Massage jingle . The pre-game ritual is apparently linked to Curry's assertion that big players who switch onto him are "barbecue chicken"
In 2012, Hines began devoting an increasing amount of his stand-up performances to material from his days as a Correctional Officer. Hines had largely avoided the topic earlier in his career due to training he received that urged officers to pursue outside interests and to compartmentalize their work at the jail as a way to avoid burnout.
Daniel Tosh Rape Joke Controversy
When asked his opinion on the July 2012 controversy surrounding comedian Daniel Tosh’s put-down of a female heckler with a reference to gang rape, Hines told Chicago Sun-Times blog writer Sarah Terez-Rosenblum, “For me, as a stand-up, I want you to leave my show happy. I want everybody to get laid after they get through seeing me. And I want all that sex to be consensual." 
|2009||Assisted Living (short)||Robert|
|2007||Chasing Robert||Robert L. Brown|
|1998||Bullet on a Wire||Guard|
|2012||Vidiots||as Toby Jones||TV One, Guest|
|1998||ComicView||Himself||BET, Stand-up comedian|
|1994||Uptown Comedy Club||Himself||Fox, Stand-up comedian|
|1993||Comic Justice||Himself||Comedy Central, Stand-up comedian|
|1992||ComicView||Himself||BET, Stand-up comedian|
|Selected Internet Videos|
|2009||Jones’ Big Ass Truck Rental and Storage (2)||Toby Jones||Viral video|
|Jones’ Cheap ASS Prepaid Legal and Daycare Academy||Toby Jones||Viral video|
|Jones’ Good ASS BBQ and Foot Massage||Toby Jones||Viral video|
|2008||Jones’ Big ASS Truck Rental and Storage||Toby Jones||Viral video|
- Steven Johnson (March 12, 2010) "Comedian Robert Hines is Chicago, and funny". Chicago Tribune.
- Chasing Robert. The Internet Movie Database.
- Robert L. Hines. The Internet Movie Database..
- Emily Hiser Lobdell (December 28, 2008) "Jones’ Big Ass Truck Rental and Storage". NBC Chicago
- Website for "Jones’ Big ASS Website and Merchandise Center". Retrieved July 18, 2012.
- Daniel Murphy (December 12, 2009) "The Five Most Terrifying Local TV Christmas Commercials". Esquire.com
- Jimmy Traina (January 9, 2009) "Hot Clicks". SportsIllustrated.com
- Rude Tube "Top 50 Viral Ads" Channel 4, e4.com. Retrieved July 18, 2012.
- Duncan Riley (December 6, 2008) "Jones Big Ass Truck Rental And Storage". The Inquisitor
- Tamara Palmer (June 1, 2012) "The 8 Wackiest BBQ Commercials". Zagat.com
- James Dator (May 31, 2016) "Stephen Curry prepared for his must-win Game 7 by singing and dancing to an old viral video". SB Nation.com
- Jovan Buha(May 12, 2016) "Steph Curry says big men who switch onto him are 'barbecue chicken'". "FoxSports.com"
- Sarah Terez-Rosenblum (July 26, 2012) "Former Correctional Officer Strikes Comedy Gold". Chicago Sun-Times.
- Elissa Bassist (July 11, 2012) "Why Daniel Tosh’s ‘Rape Joke’ at the Laugh Factory Wasn’t Funny". DailyBeast.com