It was one of those typical midweek days when a colleague of mine dropped me a note about a show in a local club. “A friend of mine, Stats, is performing stand-up comedy,” he said. Nice!
Before I knew it, Saturday rolled in and, by the evening, I was on my way to the Gotham Comedy Club - one of Manhattan’s premier clubs for up and coming performers, surely, but also a tried and tested favorite venue of many stars of the show biz. Think: Seinfeld and company.
I negotiated a corner and started down the 22nd street. I was there in a hop.
As soon as I walked into Gotham's anteroom, somewhat surprisingly, I was immediately drawn into the depth and breadth of the place. The photos covering and coloring the walls of the anteroom, though leaving a bit to be desired (in terms of aesthetics), spoke volumes of Gotham’s zeitgeist, and I felt a certain, albeit as yet undefined, connectedness to the club. Yeah, you might be right to call it a transcendent experience of sorts.
Through a heavy, dark curtain, I got escorted to my table in the main performance hall filled with guests. There was a well-lighted stage elevated to just above the tables. This ensured an unobstructed visual joy to its patrons.
“Yeah, you bet ya,” I responded to the waitress’ suggestion to bring me some drink or another as I sunk in the comfy semi-rounded booth awaiting Stats to climb the stage and do the show. . .
It was a success!
Funny enough - and contrary to what the mesmerized audience would surely claim - Stats would tell you he could do better. He says precisely this in the anteroom just minutes after his performance and then adds, “I was all right, but just didn’t feel the audience as I did the last show.”
CP: What do you mean, “feel the audience"?
S: Well, when you’re on stage… it’s like being in a boxing match. You dance and you throw punch(line)es and you wanna elicit a certain rhythm from the audience. You wanna draw them into your game.
CP: That’s quite curious, the boxing analogy. Do you, then, sort of, mold your performance, shift it and adjust it right there on the spot, or how does that work?
S: Actually, the whole material is prepared and practiced beforehand.
CP: Every detail?
S: To the T. But, if there is that ‘moment’ where both, the audience and me are on the ‘level’ - I mean, I recognize that we have established a special connection - I will throw in some new material - Improv (improvise) just off the top of my head. In one of my acting classes Angel David teaches us the art of Improv.
CP: Everybody would agree that doing comedy is a risky business since it’s rather difficult to anticipate people’s responses ahead of time. How do you deal with that, are you prepared for the unexpected turns?
S: Sure. Usually, though, you’re guided by the gut feeling … you just feel it; you feel that special connection with the audience.
CP: Kind of like when a basketball player knows the ball is going in the basket though it’s still in the air?
S: Yup, just like that. You can just feel it. But, if you don’t - the whole show comes down to the routine. Basically, you do with the material you prepped and hope for the best.
CP: Your real name is Gregorio Patrick Galligano. How did “Stats” come about?
S: That’s quite a funny story that I use a lot during my comedy acts. I actually got this nickname from three different groups of people at three different times in my life for three different reasons. First, in High School, I dated a girl that was a bit younger than me. Though we were both underage, my buddies started calling me Stats - the shortened version of Statutory. Then, while I was on the hockey team in college, I kept track of a bunch of stats and earned a nickname Stats for it. Finally, I was being called Stats because of my place of birth - New York City’s borough of Staten Island.
CP: Whatdayaknow! Let’s go back to the first steps for a moment. How did you get into comedy, what prompted you to want to even consider doing stand up?
S: It was all unplanned, really. Namely, my brother bought me a ticket to Tucson, Arizona, and I went to visit some friends. I recently graduated college with a marketing degree and was still in the process of exploring what I wanted to do with my life. While just hanging out with my friends, you know, relaxing, I got just slightly under the influence of, well, … some toxins, and decided to tell a story.
CP: Like a bard in them olden times?
S: Yes, that sounds pretty much right.
CP: So, the crowd gathered and listened…
S: Yeah, some 50 people gathered and I got them rolling in laughter, and that’s when a buddy of mine suggested I give comedy a shot in a more, for the lack of the better word, serious manner.
CP: Would you say that a defining moment for you?
S: In terms of a turn that my life took since, certainly.
Stand up serves a higher purpose. . .
CP: What does doing stand up mean for you today?
S: Well, I really want to become an actor. Stand up, although enjoyable in itself, serves the higher purpose ¾ gets me closer to my goal.
CP: Do you think approaching comedy in this way gives you a whole different perspective than, say, someone dedicated solely to comedy might have?
S: Probably. For me doing comedy is a learning process and I do not necessarily define nor express all my talents through it. In fact, I would say I am a better storyteller than I am a joke teller.
CP: Could you give us a brief rundown of what precedes your show?
S: Sure. I wake up around 10am and since the moment I open my eyes I stay positive. Ordinarily, I practice my routine about five times before lunch. During the afternoon, I simply retain the positive outlook and generally stay in a very good mood. I also find it important to really relax the night before, get a good night’s sleep.
CP: Let’s get back to you as an actor… Are you going for auditions, are you schooling yourself in the art, what are you doing in this respect?
S: I’m actually taking acting classes at TVI Studios in Times Square. From my teachers’ feedback, I gather I’m doing very well. I am also searching for an agent to keep me informed of auditions, as well as getting a headshot (the entertainment version of a resume), professionally done. Then, I ought to go to an audition and impress them.
CP: Doesn’t sound like that would be too hard for someone with your education and stage experience…
S: That might sound simple and easy, but it is actually far from it.
Interview continued in Gregorio Patrick Galligano "Stats", Part 2