Jersey City native Mike Marino will be bringing his new comedy show to Victoria April 23 on topics he is both famous for and knows best: his Italian culture and family.
“Growing up in an Italian-American home in New Jersey was absolutely the greatest,” Marino said. “My mom being from Italy and my dad being from New Jersey. We had a crazy slapstick, fun, loving, caring childhood, which stemmed me into all my stand-up work.”
The show, Welcome to the Family, will be an Italian affair. Marino’s music will be complemented with a music set by local Italian-Canadian jazz, blues and gospel vocalist Maria Manna.
It was she who made the show happen through a bold online encounter.
“About three years ago, I asked him, via Facebook, if he would like to perform in Canada and seeing as his comedy has a lot of Italian American content, I asked if I could open for him,” Manna said. “He agreed. Here is a time when contacting a celebrity actually worked!”
Marino’s comedy has taken him from The Tonight Show to sitcoms, major comedy clubs, theatres, Montreal’s Just for Laughs Comedy Festival and casinos from New York to Los Angeles and around the world.
In his most popular schtick, “If the President Were Italian,” Marino tackles the conflict-laden American political scene with a humorous fantasy that plays on mafia stereotypes.
“My dream was always to see a nice Italian president from New Jersey run the country for a little bit. How much fun would that be,” Marino says in the stand-up bit that has generated over 12 million views on YouTube. “Three months, straighten out the whole country. Done … And then they’d ask our president … ‘Mr. President. You ended the war in Afghanistan. Can you tell us how you did it?’ Our boy would be on national television in a three-piece suit, smoking a cigarette, going ‘Don’t worry about it. You just go and enjoy the gas prices at 32 cents a gallon now, okay?’”
Who Marino has become as a comedian he largely attributes to his family.
“My family was filled with jokes and pranks on each other, and I think, growing up with our traditional Italian values, made me the man I am today,” he said. He also grew up surfing on the Jersey shore, where he lived in a “nice big house” with two brothers who gave him a lot of laughs. “We nicknamed the house the SURE house, meaning you were sure to have a good time.”
Considering his playful love for Italian culture and his family, Welcome to the Family is taking place at the perfect venue: the DaVinci Centre, a Victoria non-profit community society that serves to preserve and promote the Italian-Canadian heritage. And the show is a fundraiser.
“This is a show for anyone who loves Italian American music and comedy,” said Manna, who plans on singing Dean Martin, Mambo Italiano and The Godfather. “You will want to go home and make a plate of pasta after this show!”
See Marino and Manna live at the DaVinci Centre at 3 p.m. on April 23. Tickets, $50, can be purchased online at www.mariamanna.ca.
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