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!
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.
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.
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