Last month, Dinosaurus Rex had a chance to stop by Toronto’s Absolute Comedy Club to check out a headlining stand-up routine by veteran comedian Joe Bronzi. Performing for over 15 years, this guy has opened for the likes of Jerry Seinfeld, Brian Regan, Gilbert Gottfried and David Brenner. Really talented and has a knack for working the crowd – he’s a hilarious comic who dishes sharp, clean and upbeat material.
Lucky for us, we got hooked up with an interview on the count that Joe’s girlfriend is an old childhood pal of mine. Get a glimpse into Joe’s on-the-road lifestyle and why he’s the king of working unplanned.
So what you got for me, Joe?
Oh I got a story for you. Three old ladies are sitting outside of Absolute Comedy Club. They’re having a conversation at the top of their lungs because one of them has two hearing aids.
So the first lady says, “I remember when I was a little girl you could get a cucumber like THAT for a nickel”.
The other lady says, “That’s nothing, when I was a little girl you could get two onions like THAAAAT for a penny”.
And the one with the two hearing aids goes, “I can’t hear a thing you’re saying, but I remember the fellow you’re talking about“.
LOL! So you’re from New York right?
Yup, I grew up near Poughkeepsie actually. Which is semi-famous for having a lot of serial killers… Never get in a van with a guy from Poughkeepsie haha. I moved down to New York just shy of finishing my college degree. Kills my mother… but I couldn’t wait anymore because I had to jump into stand-up. I did open mics and what we call ‘bringers’ – where you don’t get on stage unless you have a certain number of friends who pay to get in. I did this for 2.5 years until I ended up getting a small working gig on Long Island with a comic named Joe Starr. He took me under his wing – got me in touch with bookers and got me real work. From there I was off and running. All this happened about 15 years ago.
And in those 15 years, I take it you’ve seen your share of the countryside?
Oh yeah, I’m a road monkey. I’m travelling all over the place. I think I’m up to 31 states! Thanks to gigs on cruise ships I’ve also been up to places like Alaska, Hawaii and Mexico.
Sweet! And what about Toronto?
Oh I love Toronto. Not just because my girlfriend has family in the area. To me, it’s cleaner, friendlier and just as dynamic as NYC.
Haha, we are friendlier aren’t we?
Yeah! I think it makes it just superior. And talk about cleaner – I spent a whole day looking for litter. But apparently you Canadians like to actually pick up after yourself.
What do you think about our comedy scene?
I have to tell you the comedy scene is far superior in Canada. The Canadian comedy scene is much more crowd and customer friendly.
In the states, you’ll find club owners who jack up the prices and force a two drink minimum. This makes for a less happy crowd to begin with. At least what I’ve seen in Absolute Comedy Clubs here, they keep the ticket prices low. They don’t force a drink minimum which apparently doesn’t matter since you guys know how to ‘lubricate’ just fine anyway. It’s just nicer – rooms are packed, even mid-week.
Yeah, we Canucks can take a good joke don’t you think?
Oh yeah, Canadians are the sharpest crowds I’ve seen. I can make any reference and they’ll get it, be supportive and just warm to it. In New York they’re intelligent but more impatient. You have to prove it with them and keep proving it or you’ll hear it.
So everyone keeps talking about this new web-series of yours. Tell me about it. I checked out a few episodes and they look great.
Ah, the web-series is called Unplanned and follows my life on-the-road as I travel from town to town. It gives people a nice glimpse into my ‘cracked’ point of view when visiting different landmarks and sights. The other half of the series is about me making it up as I go along on-stage. My style of comedy.
Nice – After your show the team and I commented that you seem to make up half of it. Lots of crowd interaction.
Yes! When I was in college I had a lot of improv training as a Musical Theatre major. I love to wing it and make it up as I go along. Everyone talks about how being a comic is an adrenaline rush – that feeling of being on-stage with just you and the audience. I guess that isn’t enough for me. I bring it to another level – in not knowing what I’m going to say next. It’s a little bit sicker I guess… you need a higher dose of medication for that kind of thrill.
And viewers can find the web-series on your YouTube channel?
Just make sure when you’re on YouTube you search “Joe Bronzi Unplanned” because if you just search “Unplanned” you’ll just find stuff about pregnancy…
Good to know! The series really gives viewers an idea of what makes your show so unique.
Yeah, I guess you can say that not only do I make up a show as I go along, but I’m also not mean in my ‘crowd work’. I don’t need to pick on or belittle people. I can make people part of the joke without making it at their expense.
I aim for just plain sillyness – that’s what makes me laugh.
Any tips for aspiring comics?
I think the reason why I have a lot of success is due to the mentorship I received when I first started out. And that is… to listen. If you go up there, and listen to the audience it becomes a relationship. It’s a give and take. You teach them your rhythm so they know when to laugh.
If you don’t listen, it’s like masturbation. You’re just on-stage doing it for yourself and there’s no interaction. But if you listen and care about the crowd having a good time – then it’s making love. There’s no comparison!
And is stand-up your only avenue?
I’m an aspiring screenwriter as well. I just finished a holiday movie we hope to get made next year.
Oh sweet, screenwriting! So for my last question, do you think we could make the life of Dinosaurus Rex into a sitcom?
YES. First of all, I don’t think you’ll ever get a name better than Dinosaurus Rex.
For the premise – You (Chris) are a funny and light-hearted Toronto blogger who’s partner (Karl) is unfortunately a recovering alcoholic with lots of problems. And then we have your newest blogger Jenn – who’s got some serious shopping issues and dips into your company $$$. Haha good luck with that one.
Subscribe to Joe Bronzi’s web-series ‘Unplanned’ on his YouTube Channel
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Also check out - joebronzi.com