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Todd Bridges: "I managed to pick myself back up and become successful"

Over the past decade, celebrities behaving badly has become somewhat of a cliché in Hollywood, and the more disastrous the train wreck, the more fame that seems to follow. That hasn't always been the case.

Todd Bridges, best known as big brother Willis from the classic '70s TV show Diff'rent Strokes, has had his fair share of public scandals and brushes with the law. The difference was that instead of skyrocketing his career, it almost crushed it.

"It's so shameful that people like Lindsay Lohan or Amanda Bynes can go crazy and get into way more trouble than I ever did, and they end up with movie offers and all of these types of things," says Bridges. "Not me. I stumbled, and I had to fall for a while. It's crazy, because if I'd died or ended up in prison, people would have been more interested in my story than they were because I managed to pick myself back up and become successful."

This weekend, Bridges will be in New Hope for two very special shows at the New Hope Cinema Grill. Before his trip, we chatted with the child star-turned tabloid darling-turned reality star-turned standup comedian about his career, his dancing skills, and what Willis really was talking about.

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Fans are mostly familiar with you from your work on television, not necessarily as much as a comedian. Do you feel like people come to your shows not knowing what to expect?

Not really as much anymore. I've got pretty good word of mouth out there about my comedy and how funny my shows are. My comedy is kind of like Richard Pryor's. It's a lot of storytelling about my life and my experiences; I just get wild up there onstage.

Other than your standup, what else have you been working on lately?

I've got a couple of shows and pilots that I'm working on that I can't quite talk about just yet. Plus TruTV is still showing World's Dumbest... so people still see me on that; Everybody Hates Chris is still on in syndication, so there is plenty of places people can see me.

You've done some reality shows that showed off how genuinely athletic and tough you are. You were a celebrity boxer and pro wrestler; is there any athletic-type reality show you wish you could still do?

I've always been very athletic. Even back when I was doing Diff'rent Strokes I would play Little League and do sports like normal kids do, and I'm still very athletic now. The difference is that now I'm in this 50-year-old body, and it's telling me, "Whoa, you can't do some of this stuff anymore!" 

As far as shows I'd like to do, I want Dancing with the Stars next. Is this season still going on? Did Alfonso [Ribeiro, better known as Carlton Banks from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air] win it?

Not sure, but I know he was doing really well on the show.

Yeah man, he and I have always been good dancers.

Which one of you is better?

That's tough. He can dance really well, but I can still pop and lock and do some other things he probably can't do. It would be close.

How often do people ask you, "What you talking 'bout Willis?"

I actually tell everyone at my shows to get it out of their systems right at the beginning. We all say it together, and then we get on with the show. I don't mind it; Diff'rent Strokes gave me a great career and a great family.

IF YOU GO:

Todd Bridges
New Hope Cinema Grill
Friday & Saturday, 8 p.m.
18+, $15