by Ryan Meehan
Originally from New Jersey, Anthony DeVito is a NYC based comedian. He was one of the “New Faces” at the 2012 Montreal “Just for Laughs” festival, has appeared on “This American Life” made his television debut in 2014 on AXS-TV’s Gotham Comedy Live and was the 2015 winner of Caroline’s March Madness. He’s also performed at the 2014 Boston Comedy Festival, 2014 Laugh your Asheville off, 2014 Limestone Comedy Fest, 2013 Bridgetown Comedy Fest, 2013 Bridgetown Comedy Festival and 2013 SF Sketchfest. In addition to stand-up, he’s appeared on TV Land’s The Jim Gaffigan Show, is a regular on Fox News Channel’s Red Eye, has been a featured guest on PIX 11’s morning news, was on one of the final broadcasts of Sirius XM’s Ron and Fez, has been published in Timeout NY and is the former host of the NOC TV’s Say What?! We are very pleased to have him as our guest today in 10 questions.
RM: What is the biggest difference between the comic you are today and the guy you were when you first stepped on stage to tell jokes? How did those first couple of gigs go; and how much time passed between that show and you actually feeling comfortable calling yourself a comedian?
APDV: The biggest difference is I’m a little closer to how I’m funny off stage. It’s not identical, but closer. My first couple gigs went okay, but I was too scared to perform as myself. So, I hid behind a character, a version of myself. I didn’t even use my real name, I went by Leslie Oliver. I think I started calling myself a comedian when it started paying most of my rent.
RM: You’re of Italian descent…Do you find it necessary to work off of your ethnicity a great deal or is that fact typically buried in the context of jokes about topics that are more broad?
APDV: If the fact I’m Italian adds to a joke I’ll bring it up, otherwise I don’t think too much of it. Most of my family jokes come from specific situations rather than broad strokes. But, I always enjoy hearing about the way Italians act. We’re a ridiculous people.
RM: You look a lot like late comic Greg Giraldo and a bit like Adam Goldberg, the actor who played Newhouse in Dazed and Confused…Do you think that in any way looking like two people who have gotten quite a bit of work has played in your favor as you’ve become someone who now has a career in the entertainment industry?
APDV: I don’t know, if that’s happened it’s out of my control. But, I’ve never been told I’ve been booked on a stand up show because I look like Giraldo.
RM: Looking at your bio, you’ve done quite a bit of festival work…Whenever I ask comics if they perform differently at a festival or how they alter their approach compared to doing a typical club gig, they usually say that they try to just be themselves. Have you ever been in a situation where you’ve been performing at a festival and one of the comedians before you has a similar persona and delivery? If so, what do you do in those instances and do you ever feel like you in any way adjust your act based on what has happened on that stage before you take the microphone?
APDV: I’ve never been in that situation. But, I’d probably address it if was super obvious. I try and always be myself. If the material bombs, it bombs. When I’m performing for a specific group it’s more catered. I’m not going to tell marriage jokes to a group of teenagers. It won’t make sense for the room.
RM: You co-host “The Rad Dudecast” with Brendan Eyre and Greg Stone…Why do you think the three of you work so well together; and do you find yourself overly concerned with the number of downloads you get per episode or do you do it mostly just because it’s a lot of fun and you work with a couple of other really talented comedians that you are close friends with?
APDV: We work well with each other because there’s no judgement between us. And, we’ve know each other for a good amount of time. Personally, I don’t care about the downloads. Our podcast is strictly for us. I’m amazed other people think it’s funny. But, it makes me so happy when they do because it’s totally not compromised.
RM: How would you grade yourself with regards to answering ombudsman Andy Levy’s questions on Red Eye? Do you have any sort of formal improv training background that would assist in you in responding to counterpoints on the spot, or is that skill something that you’ve picked up on simply by interacting with comedy club patrons by doing crowd work at your shows?
APDV: I think all that helps. Also, Andy sets you up in a great way to riff. I have some formal improv training, but I think it comes from years of making people laugh on and off stage.
RM: There seems to be several “themed” comedy shows popping up in New York and surrounding areas these days, and you had the chance to do a show called “Bad Date, Great Story”…What is the best part about getting to do shows like that; and as a comedian is it easier for you to find yourself in uncomfortable situations – such as the one you told about that date – knowing that if something weird happens you’ll at least have some great material to work with?
APDV: Sometimes I want to just do my act or work on new jokes. But, I love those shows because they allow me to be funny as myself. There’s no safety net of having prepared material. It’s very natural.
RM: Which portion of the comedic writing process would you consider to be your specialty and why? Conversely, which aspect of that procedure would you say you struggle with the most; and why do you think that particular facet of developing material is so difficult for you?
APDV: I love writing new jokes, it will always be fascinating. When I wake up, there’s no idea. Then it’s created during the writing process, and later shown to a group of people that same night – all in one day. I struggle with telling long stories on stage. I want to be able to do that, but so far I’ve failed at every attempt. I’m so impressed by comedians who can tell a single story for longer than five minutes. I don’t know if I have a joke that’s longer than a minute and a half. I think it’s difficult because I’m looking for angles with a joke. But with a story, the story is the funny thing…so, just tell it. But for some reason I cant do that and at the same time make it entertaining. It ends up a huge chunk of time with zero laughter, and then I feel like an idiot for putting an audience through it.
RM: How do you think that comedy clubs will continue to fill seats given the many ways technology gives people such easy access to clips of people doing stand-up? Do they need to simply stick to making sure the live experience remains unrivaled, or do they need to start thinking about selling subscriptions on apps such as Periscope to out of market customers who wouldn’t be able to attend those clubs anyway?
APDV: Stand up is best seen as a live medium, so as long as that’s emphasized it will be okay. Clubs need to stay on top of how to get people in the seats.
RM: What’s up next for you in the remainder of 2015 and beyond? Anything big in the works that we should know about?
APDV: I recently taped a stand up set that’s going to air on Comedy Central in the next couple months. And, I’ll be performing on a cruise for the band Train. Otherwise, I’m just working to get better than I am right now.
Official Website: http://www.anthonydevitocomedy.com/
Anthony on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/1260596015
Anthony on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AnthonyDeVito_
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