The Life of Bobby
Bobby Badfingers is snapping high
By Martin Stein
Las Vegas Weekly
Bob Von Merta, aka Bobby Badfingers, ex-RV salesman, is having a blast. Perhaps most famous for performing "Wipe Out" by snapping his fingers, he's the opening act for Elvis impersonator Trent Carlini, has a book in the works, Snap! Bobby Badfingers and the Incredible, Complete, Semi-True Story of Fingersnapping, an instructional DVD, Snapology 101, and Yahoo ads online and on TV. Simply put, his life is full of laughs and exclamation points.
You're playing at the Hilton?
Yes, the Las Vegas Hilton. I'm right on Elvis' stage. In fact, I use one of Elvis' dressing rooms, which is pretty doggone cool for a finger-snapper.
No shivers or ghostly feelings?
Oh no, not at all. In fact, I have a cool little story about that. I do Howard Stern once in a while, and Howard, you know how he likes to stir it up. Well, he brought some guy on the show to challenge me to a snap-off a couple years ago. Well, you know what that guy's name was? Sam Phillips. It wasn't the Sam, but his name was Sam Phillips. And then I end up here, I think, Something's going on.
So they did a good job of pairing you with Trent.
It's perfect. He moves a lot, and I move a lot in my show. I'm a cross between a Chippendale and an escapee from an out-of-state hospital. [laughs]
I'm glad to hear you're taking your art seriously.
Oh man, you can't take this stuff seriously! If you take this seriously, you'd be far too serious. This is supposed to be fun, and I'm having the time of my life doing it.
I just finished checking out your website, but I'm sure that even before then I had a vague memory of catching you on TV one time and you were doing "Wipe Out."
Well, I do about a 15-minute show out here, with a little stand-up in it, some snapping. I played the Just For Laughs Festival. Are you familiar with that? It's the world's largest comic festival in Montreal. And I'll tell you what the deal is with that, is they booked me for only two nights and I ended up doing seven—almost every gala event they had. I opened up for Tina Fey, Brad Garrett, Carl Reiner, Kelly Ripa. Every night is a different star that hosts the galas, and I opened up for just about all of them, including the French galas. They were calling me the best opening act they'd ever seen, which is really cool for a finger-snapper. [laughs]
You started snapping as a kid. You were watching TV and started impersonating flamenco dancers. How long did it take you to realize they were using castanets.
They are? [laughs]
Aw man, there goes your career.
There it goes, right there! I'm telling you! I'm not doing this show because I have a high IQ, pal! [laughs] The funny part is, everybody in the entertainment business, just about, I've tried to show my fingers to, I've only seen one of theirs in return. [laughs]
You're doing pretty good. And you're friends with John Stamos and Rebecca Romijn-Stamos.
Oh yeah, John has really, really helped me tremendously with my career, and his mom, Loretta, I mean, unbelievably. They've been just fantastic, in fact, he was over here the other night with Bob Saget. He had Saget taking notes on my show, giving me pointers downstairs after the show. It don't get any better than that. That was pretty cool.
How did you meet up with them?
John plays for the Beach Boys, and I played for Jan and Dean for three years. And Jan just passed away, so I've been doing my own thing for awhile. But John says, "You've got to be in Vegas, Bobby." So he hopped on the phone and called Trent, and Trent said, "Send me a press kit," and Trent called right back and said, "Get him down here." And it was very cool, and now things are really flying. I've got this whole hotel snapping their fingers.
It sounds like you're more friends with John. Now that they've split up, I know couples have to divvy up their friends.
Yeah, I am, but I try to stay friends with everybody. It's a terrible thing that they have to go through a divorce, I think, because I like them both. It's too that it just didn't work out for them because of their rigorous work schedules and everything, and they didn't get to see a lot of each other. John's family is exceptionally classy and good people. In fact, John has a pilot that's getting ready to hit the airwaves here, that they've been working on. I was over at Fox watching them shoot a few weeks ago, so he's going to be back on the airwaves very shortly, which is very cool. But that guy has helped me out tremendously with my career, and I owe him, and his mom, his family, a lot. They're very good people.
Do you regret putting your finger-snapping career on hold while you were running your RV dealership?
Yeah, I do kind of regret that because, you know, I have a lot more fun doing this. [laughs]
More fun than selling RVs?
Oh my God, let me tell you something. You get the best of both worlds. You sell RVs, and you deal with the public on that level, and everybody wants a piece of your butt. You're the no-good dealer. But when you do the entertainment business, that's what's fun because you bring a smile to everybody's faces, and they enjoy it. And children. That's what's cool about this, this unique talent that I have, it transcends race, color, creed, age, sexes. Everybody enjoys it, and that is my payback. Not a paycheck, but people enjoying the show that I do, this ridiculous type of talent that I have, that everybody gets such a big kick out of it, it's unbelievable.