“I don’t know… I do a lot of talk shows” he said during a cross country telephone interview. I caught up to him after a tour in Ireland. Irrera performed at the Kilkenny Comedy Festival for the fourteenth year in a row.
“It was great I love Ireland…where did you say you where from”.
We worked out the difference between Utica and Ithaca. I laughed, he learned.
Irrera is a busy man. A rare entertainment treat. The pure comedian. He is always on, peppering our conversation with rapid fire jokes and a hollywood ‘insiders’ knowledge. He has traveled all around the world, been on just about every talk show and has two television shows on air now.
“Back at the Barnyard is a cartoon, it’s on saturday mornings. And the Supreme Court of Comedy is an exclusive Direct T.V. produced Show”.
Irrera also was a seminal character on Dr. Katz the original adult animated series.
His Hollywood credits read like a good fortune cookie or a chapter on King Midas. Just about every show he was on enjoyed phenomenal commercial success. Everybody Loves Raymond, Seinfeld are among them. His popularity in the Hollywood inner circle is exemplified by his many talk show appearances.
He could easily have produced his own talkshow out of footage from his guest spots.”I don’t know why I do so many talk shows… the phone rings, if I’m not busy, who knows”. So far he has done Letterman, Leno, The View,Oprah(2), Late Nite w/Conan O’Brien and The Late Show. Unlike many of his contemporaries he is usually not there to push a product or show. Actually he is modest.
“I love performing in front of people…but after an audience comes in to see me I don’t feel comfortable pushing my latest DVD after they spent their money to see me perform” he explained.
You can thank his humble Philadelphia roots. His humility may be the only reason he is not a household name(you will recognize him). He is also credited with popularizing the now common, household term Bada-boom Bada bing’.
“Taking credit for that is like taking credit for ‘what’s up’…its just a common term in Italian households that got blown up because of the Sopranos”.
The Philly native started out acting in Miami. “I was part of an improv group and I had a lot of fun” he said. He eventually made his way north to NYC and in 1981 auditioned for Saturday Night Live. “I didn’t make the cut but I found comedy…again”. Irrera has been doing stand-up since then and has not looked back. His rediscovery has resulted in a career.
“I work a lot but I also take time off, lay around” In other words he is not afraid to live a life full of the trappings that make celebrity so appealing. “I just got tickets to the Lakers Celtics..Joey Crawford sent em”he said.
Irrera counts NBA ref Crawford, Charles Barkley and Bruce Willis among his lengthy list of friends. He also has old friends, guys from the neighborhood who he keeps up with. “One of my buddies from Philly Fran O’hanlon is a coach at Lafayette”.
There is definitely more to our conversation but this was about June 14 at The Turning Stone Resort and Casino. “I can’t wait…I heard they worked wonders out there at that place, after the show let’s get a drink”.
I had to break the bad news that the Turning Stone Resort and Casino was recently denied a liquor license by New York State.
“Why” he asked.
“Its complicated” I said. Barely stifling a rant I went on to explain the process that resulted in denial for the casino.
I explained how the adversarial relationship between the Nation and local Government compelled the State to deny the casino during a PGA event.
“You gotta be kiddin me” he said.
“Nope, unfortunately I am not. Come to think of it that’s probably what COO Ray Halbritter said when he heard they got denied”