To witness a performance by Jeff Altman is to realize that there are still a few people in show business who desperately need medication. Out walks a guy who looks like Larry, the lawyer, and then suddenly, he is transformed into various and strange characters that illicit spontaneous vocalizations and bizarre incantations. It is the way in which Jeff combines physical comedy with keen, honest observations about life that makes him unique and interesting as well as one of the most sought-after comedians in the country - in both television and live appearances.
Jeff was born and raised in Syracuse, New York, in an environment which inadvertently lent itself to show business. As an only child, he got way too much attention from his parents, and subsequently, faced a real dilemma with the transition of leaving home and being in school. But Jeff figured out very quickly how to get back the attention by making his classmates and teachers laugh. In fact. most of his elementary school time was spent in a special "Jeff Altman" chair in the principals office.
Jeff s first exposure to performing came early in life — his dad was one of the finest slight-of-hand artists in the country. It wasnt long before his son began to fiddle with cards and coins as well. Today, Jeff considers slight-of-hand a coveted avocation and he has achieved notoriety for publishing many tricks. Jeff s father also gets credit for teaching his son to play the drums, something Jeff still loves and does.
Deluded by academic aspirations, Jeff spent four years in Baltimore where he managed to graduate from Johns Hopkins University. While there, he not only earned a diploma, but also a reputation as a disturbed young man. It wasnt uncommon to see Jeff being escorted out of the Hutzler Reading Room dressed as bush. Twice during his college days he visited Los Angeles, spending most of his time at the renowned Magic Castle, an exclusive magicians club in Hollywood. Intoxicated by the West Coast, Jeff began to realize that his days as a "scholar" were numbered and soon after graduation, he packed up his car and made his way to California. After a six-month tenure at the Magic Castle, Jeff began working at the world-famous Comedy Store; and, it was here, in its heyday, where he developed a stand-up act and started to think of himself as a comedian.
It wasnt long before Jeff was tapped for several appearances on The Merv Griffin Show and started performing in clubs across the country. "Suddenly, I was rich," recalls Jeff. "I was amazed that I was able to generate an income over $3000 in one year by being a comedian." That wasnt bad; his apartment was only $100/month, and sometimes if he vacuumed the halls, they cut his rent in half.
Jeff s stand-up and acting has come a long way since. He appears regularly on The Late Show With David Letterman, has guest-starred in dozens of network prime-time shows, such as Caroline in the City, Land c End, and Baywatch, and has produced and starred in two critically-acclaimed Showtime specials, JeffAltman s Scrapbook and Sweet & Meaty. A few years ago, he recorded a well-received, live album at the Comedy Store, 11l Flip You Like Cheese Omelette (Mercury/7Polygram), featuring several of his most popular, signature pieces. Film credits include Highlander II, American Hot Wax, Soul Man and Easy Money.
Altman is one of the most highly pursued comedians by advertising companies and has appeared in over 30 national campaigns ranging from Budweiser to Panasonic.
Jeff supports various charitable organizations, including CARE, coordinating one of their successful annual fund-raisers, Comics for CARE, at the Comedy Store, as well as the Los Angeles Mission and American Red Cross. The rest of Altmans free time is spent with his seven-year old daughter, Faith, who makes him laugh harder than any of his comic pals.