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