Environment is a factor in our lives, particularly if youre a comedian. Cities cant help but shape humorists.
Stand-ups who come out of Philadelphia are generally fine storytellers, edgy and direct. David Brenner, Craig Shoemaker and Bob Saget are prime examples. Dom Irrera is also cut from that cloth.
The underheralded humorist from the City of Brotherly Love is unsparing, surprising and intelligent. If life were fair, Irrera would be a top-tier comic headlining theaters and sheds. But as Irrera sometimes reminds his audience, life is hardly fair.
Yet Irrera, who will ring in New Years Eve at Goodnights, realizes he is fortunate to make a good living touring as a stand-up.
Its not easy to do this and make money, Irrera says. Not everyone makes it and Im proud to be one of those people that actually is a stand-up comic. You look at a lot of the guys who tried to become a stand-up comic and didnt make it. Were talking some brilliant comic minds, like Larry David. They didnt make it, but Larry was behind Seinfeld.
Irrera, who has appeared in the film The Big Lebowski and the animated series Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist, played a comic on an episode of Seinfeld.
What was nice about that was that I didnt have to audition for the part in Seinfeld, he says. The funny thing about that was that Larry wanted me to do three episodes but I was always on the road, so I kept turning him down. I had no idea that Seinfeld was a great, popular show. So I kept putting it off. I thought, Well, Ill do this for this old friend. I had no idea that it would have been huge for me. But it was fun. I was an actor in college. I enjoy it.
But Irrera is an inveterate stand-up. Thats where I get my pleasure, he says. Thats how I get paid. I have fun when Im onstage. If I acted the way I act onstage in real life, I would be obnoxious.
To be fair, his hometown of Philly is, well, an obnoxious place. Its a tough town, Irrera says. Its a unique place. Its a city that molds you. But I made it out of there and found my niche. But my friends and family helped mold me into what I became. This is the greatest job. I remember what it was like parking cars on the side and being a teacher. Those are fine jobs for other people, but it wasnt for me. I worked hard to get here. I appreciate what I do. Theres nothing else I would rather do.