Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Why Comedy? Why Entertainment?

On stage at Bridge Street Live with Monty and Gage

Describe your comedy.
My Boys on The Average White guy Comedy Tour
Storyteller is a word used allot when I get described by colleagues. I am like a young bill Cosby where I try and set stories up and allow them to weave back into each other. On a perfect night I can weave an audience and my stories together.
The only reason I would hesitate to make this the word to describe me is in the beginning I thought “as an Actor and a Writer I tell stories when I get on stage as a comedian I feel more like an entertainer”. This is only part true The Entertainer is a storyteller as well. Its his job to hide the stories with the jokes, opinions and act outs.
As a writer and performer style is a weird thing. We are always evolving: as people and as artists so it’s constantly changing like telling the same story to your buddy then to your grandmother; you will tell it differently, highlighting different parts of the story (seeing what works and what’s interesting). Now tell that story over and over after 5 years, it will be quicker, funnier and you will have a different way of looking at it. This probably sounds obvious or lame but I have changed allot over the last 10 years. Now being married looking at my dating jokes and stories I have a better sense of why things went bad and why that’s funny and I’m sure that it would change when I’m a parent and so on.

Sam and Carl. Carl is the best comic I've ever seen and can't believe we are friends
 I started out wanting to be “Steven Wright” and thought if I write jokes so clever I can just stand and deliver. I was working with Carl LaBove and he mentioned to me “You are an Actor why not act up there- it’s another stage for you to work on”. So I started not thinking and just acting out and dropping the “jokes”.  After learning I was getting better laughs at the stories points I was trying to make rather than a set up punch I eventually started learning the truth always works. I try to stay as close to the truth as I can (makes it easy to remember) and the big pay offs where much better than the little “jokes”. Doing this Long form style seems to be a tough road but the payoff is worth it to me. I am so influenced by Carl sometimes I find myself almost doing an impression of Carl telling my stories.

Do you prefer performing in small venues, or doesn't it matter?
Venues are not a deal breaker to me, proof of that was when I went to Iraq ever time things were set for a disaster it couldn’t have went better (from mid day shows to 20 to 1000 soldiers in attendance weird venues and no sound). No matter what’s in front of me before a show I just decide to do the best I can and take it for what it is. I’ve played a sold out Borgata in Atlantic City with 6000 in attendance and have done shows in someone’s living room for 4 people on a couch.
In general both are ideal for comedy. A big theatre (which I’ve been lucky enough to play quite a few big venues the last year) the satisfaction of making large numbers of people laugh, amazing stages sound and lights that make you feel you’re in show biz are amazing but the small intimate venues you get to communicate and look the audience (in the eyes) and really get the gut reaction and enjoy the joy of a “live” show.

How long have you been a professional comedian?
I’ve been acting around 10 year’s comedy 8years.

Doing Theater by the seat of my pants. Don't know how I made it in the AADA

Were you always interested in comedy? Stand up? Writing?
Yes but I never thought about pursuing it professionally. My football coach Jeff Bruno showed me how to pursue goals and follow my dreams. I was thinking about going to NY and pursuing an acceptance to a school I probably wasn’t qualified to go to and opportunities kept opening up and I worked hard to keep moving. My goals through the years grew slowly and it was constant hard work-

Always working on the next bit. In the Greenroom
Do you have any aspirations beyond comedy?
Yes, I love acting and we saw small success with the theatre company but I want to start moving ahead there as well. Guys like Ricky Gervais, Henry Winkler and Adam Sandler have the best business and art minds. They produce their own stuff and do not depend on people in the business to approve their work. I would love to follow in their footsteps with theatre and film and on the producing side as well as artistic.

What was it like growing up in Brookfield? Did you perform locally?
It was a great place to grow up, everything about small town living is great. I had a chance to grow up and be part of everything from sports to acting.

Opening For Ronnies Band

Did your parents encourage you (and Ronnie)? Do you have other siblings? Are your parents creative?
Yes you couldn’t ask for more support. In fact when I mentioned to my parents I wanted to pursue acting they helped me find the best schools to try out for
Later when I announced I wanted to be a comic, they couldn’t wait to see me do it.

Story telling

Mark Riccadonna I play a comic in real life.

What about being a comedian appeals to you?
There is allot of fulfillment in performing and getting an immediate response especially when I went overseas and got to do shows for the military. Giving them a slice of home you really feel the appreciation from them. I hope to continue traveling base to base around the world telling stories and making new ones. Because of comedy I have got the chance to do and see amazing things this year alone I’ve had the chance to go to Kuwait, Iraq, Germany, Netherlands, Kosovo, Singapore, Guam,  Diego Garcia, China, Japan, The Marshall islands, Micronesia, Honduras, El Salvador and all over America. I get to see stuff most people don’t get to see without being in the military and I don’t have to do pushups. I love the life experiences I have had and appreciate it everyday

Can you describe the difficulties of "making it" in the entertainment industry?
Its cliché on what making it in an entertainment field is but I feel like it’s going in the right direction. Slowly and steadily chugging forward, if you move to fast you may not appreciate the fight and the wins. I am extremely lucky that I can make a living being creative, working with the troops with Armed Forces Entertainment but the proudest personal goals, was when the Broadway Company I am in (The Ammoralists) made the cover of the Arts section of the Sunday New York Times (http://theater.nytimes.com/2010/03/16/theater/reviews/16happy.html ) and The Approval Matrix section of New York Magazine where we were Highbrow and Brilliant (http://nymag.com/arts/all/approvalmatrix/65231/) when we were in “Happy in the Poorhouse”. It took 10 years of rejection, losing money, bad decisions and working in front of zero audiences to get to be called lucky and a successful. The sad part, it IS luck that it’s only been 10 years.
If you get in this industry and expect it to just happen, it’s probably not. You may find commercial success but you never put up the fight, gained experience to become a seasoned artist. Time is a friend, enemy, necessary and the thing that drives us crazy. Putting in the time and not knowing what will work makes this hard.

Great memory oversea's:
So.. Going oversea's with Kevin, more specifically The South Pacific I knew there was going to be hijinx.
I knew this was happening and I knew the pranks where going to step up a notch. Normally we just get the other one to look at our balls unexpectedly.. We call that Monkey brain belt buckle.
But why we were in The South Pacific we decided this is war.
Kevin started the trip by crop dusting the airplane while over the pacific.- a crop dusting is passing gas while in motion - the goal: to get everyone on a delay after you walked passed and "the victims" not know it was you and immediately blame each other.
I decided to start a new game called "Pearl Harboring". While in the south pacific we stayed in hot huts with no AC. right before we would leave for the day- I would sneak in Kevins window go in the bathroom and lay logs that would make Lincoln jealous... Just imagine the type of food you eat while being on tiny atolls in the pacific... oh yea remember- Don't flush let it sit in that 100 something degree humidity and fester and mutate in the room all day.
If that's not bad enough the goal here is to get kevin as drunk as possible- so when he comes home and has to throw up- he comes face to face with the baby Godzilla you just gave birth to.
Upperdeck shots have nothing on pearl harbor

Monday, July 25, 2011

Gizmo Our Dog the Wookie

So skinny you could feel every bone
After several bathes he still looked like a wet rat
I always knew I was an animal lover. I always had a pet dog and whenever I am around a animal or a child I seem to be a magnet to them. In the next few blogs I will introduce you to the last three dogs and 1 pig I own(ed).... no this isnt an article about ex-girlfriends... my pets, and some of the stories on them.
Getting Gizmo:
His Paddington bear look

Had a rough Superbowl this year
Gizmo wanted to join a frat.. I talked him out of that

                                                           My brother in law (who rescued his dog Ophelia) was driving home from work and saw a dog... (at least he thought it was a dog) in the middle of the highway in Camden NJ. 
He took him to the ASPCA and they said no one would claim him so they are going to put him up for adoption. He knew my wife and I would want him so we adopted.

Going over a script with me
 When He called and said a dog was found In Camden NJ- I thought I was getting a pit-bull or a rottweiler.... Nope It was a shih-tzu.. Named Gizmo.

He looks like a Mogwah or a baby wookie.

On The Road with Gizmo- great road dog
Christmas giz
He is a little tiny Shih Tzu all fluffy and adorable with big eyes and I had to take him to get his boys cut off. 
I'm supposed to be his best friend (MANS BEST FRIEND) but I'm Taking him to get his best friends cut off.

We had to take him to the Queens ASPCA and it was at Jamaica queens, which is a bad part of queens.. Jamaica is a bad part of queens. To get a spot you have to go early, 4AM. We are the only white things in the area, I say to Giz " We are going to die.". 
I thought it was going to be a nightmare but the thugs coming home from the bar all came over and played with the little guy.

Gizmo loves hiding under stands like his little apartment.

Bundled up in blankets.. First thing I see in the AM

Gizmo got a posse. Gus, Radar, Ophelia and giz in the bow-tie

Giz and Gus: aka Pinky and the Brain
The work as a team and are Buddie's when I'm at my in-laws.

At the ASPCA He is my new best friend and has awful abandonment issues and I have to hand him over to get this done to him. He was staring at me like "come on there is SOMETHING you can do" and as a grown man I had to look him in the eyes and say "sorry buddy.. If you look in mommy’s purse you’ll find my balls".
When they brought him out he was still doped up and out of it... We looked alike, so they knew he was mine. As I took him (he likes to be held like a baby) the lady Actually said to me: don’t let him climb on anything, no stairs and if you pick him up.. pick him up like you would a sheep. A SHEEP. How do you pick up a sheep... Don't get me wrong, Ive picked up a few hogs in my day.... 

First ride home
Now we got him fixed he needed groomed and pampered. If you noticed the difference in the pics I cut his hair (Angie and I agree next cut will be professionally done). I bathed him which was pretty easy, he stood still and let me shampoo him (in fact he loved it. A massage with warm water then drying him was a cake walk.... he was a big fan of the blow dryer.. but the hair cutting was insane. He fell asleep and I had to flip him around to get in there with clippers. This little guy doesn’t seem to be alive he is like a little stuffed animal that moves around once in a while. Every once in a while after a long walk he acts up and runs around in circles and jumps around when he does this Angie and I say this is his Alter Ego “Waffles”. I love doing the voices of Gizmo and Waffles.

Gizmo has a toy and out of all his squeaky toys there is one blue wiener dog that is his life blood. He has To have it when he is at home. He sleeps in the spoons position with it and carries it around whimpering as if he is so in love with it he doesn't know how to put it in words.

Ice cream Is crack to this dog. If you got some Ice cream Gizmo will sell you his Wiener Dog

Every night Gizmo has a tradition, his little bed time tradition. He doesn't care if someone is over or if its just Angie and I watching movies but he loves humping the blanket. And I mean humping

Who Farted?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Quotes from Interviews of the past

Usually when I do Interviews I tend to do them at a bars.. This is kind of what the inside of my head would look like. I did an interview recently about my travels. I decided to post some of the answers and quotes on the blog.

I got my start from the beginning, Originally from Youngstown Ohio but I moved to NYC: Living here since I was 17 years old. My Parents back in Ohio adjusted to my move just fine. Once I was out they got a pool and a dishwasher the year I moved out.

This is the biggest dream I could fulfill as a comedian is doing overseas gigs with the troops. I love the Military and police world, I am so fascinated by our protector class (and they are the most interesting movies and TV shows). If doing stand up and acting didn’t work out I would have joined the services, police or want to be an Air Traffic Controller like my father and brother.

Getting into the local culture
Dena, Cooter and me.
I love seeing what makes a city special, culture, food, Drink and the people. People can be tricky... Sometimes they  aren't interested in you.

Why is “THIS” city/country special and stand out from any other place? 

Now with Apple bees, Wallmart and other chains the states are all starting to look alike. 
Culture almost always starts with food, getting to know the local flavor, seeing what the place has to offer (activity wise) then Historically what makes this place tick.

Since I got into Stand Up I’ve wanted to go over and perform for the guys. Allot of my friends went the military. I respect the hell out of them, they are our Warrior class. Armed Forces Entertainment was the only ones I went too to fulfill this dream.


"There is allot of things I loved throughout the tours, one being in IRAQ: just because of the situation and attention I got before I even left to go over."

" "Most memorable was the wounded warriors came to IRAQ- these are real warriors. I was inspired and moved by their positive attitude and strength... I wanted to get anyone who speaks out “For the military” with a negative view and show them these are REAL Americans and these are guys who give anything for us to keep our freedom and help others better their lives in foreign countries all the while having a great sense of humor."

"I also saw my neighbor from Ohio while in Iraq.. who I haven’t seen since he was 14ish and to see him as a man was amazing. (I’m just glad I was nice to him then)."

"I am a huge history buff and touring the South Pacific I got to see the places these battles I have followed since I was a kid took place.  I just wish I payed attention better in school.. I used to confuse WC Fields and Winston Churchill.. Man that would of been a different war. "
"The Dog memorial for WW 2 K-9’s in Guam was amazing I went and bought books and DVDs about it and opened my eyes to this. With my family big Dog Lovers I got everyone stuff from the gift shop. My dogs a shih tzu - His family worked with the enemy"                                                                                      

Pete Coreale
Adam Ferrara
Carl LaBove

Who do you consider to be the greatest influence(s) in your field?  
My Direct influences are Carl LaBove, Pete Correale and Adam Ferrara, they are not well known but they are the best in the biz.  There style directly influences how I approach comedy.

As far as influences of all time- Bill Cosby, Dangerfield, Bob Hope, George Carlin. There are allot more but these are people I look at and say that’s what I want to do! 

What did this individual/group do to have such an influence on you? Adam, Pete and Carl are comedians who I know personally, seen them work out material... that helped me grow in this field. Their acts are storytelling and positive (not like motivational speakers but meaning they dont diss stuff- they have fun on stage). It’s what I want to do- be a positive, funny, likable guy who you would want around.

What/who influenced you to pursue a career in entertainment?  I went to theater school in NYC (American Academy of Dramatic Arts) after seeing John Malcovich and Gary Sinise  in True West. I got to NY and still am doing theater but Stand up came later when I was working in a comedy club and some comics talked me into doing it on a night one comic didn’t show. After I got off stage the owner of the club started managing me and putting me up at the end of the night while people where paying their bills. Once some comics saw how hard I was working they helped me get work and it just snowballed slowly into a career.

In the last year I got married and got a dog named Gizmo. I live in Queens NY and when I am not on the road my wife and I love live music and talking to people. Angie and I both love documentary films and cheesy action movies.