Hometown culture made Dom Irrera a stand-up guy

CorrespondentDecember 27, 2012 

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Performer Dom Irrera will be at Goodnight's on Monday.

JOE SCARNICI

  • Dom Irrera When: 8 and 10:30 p.m. Monday Where: Goodnight’s, 861 W. Morgan St., Raleigh Cost: $39.25; $74.65 with the buffet Details: 919-828-5233

Environment is a factor in our lives, particularly if you’re a comedian. Cities can’t 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 Year’s Eve at Goodnight’s, realizes he is fortunate to make a good living touring as a stand-up.

“It’s not easy to do this and make money,” Irrera says. “Not everyone makes it and I’m 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 didn’t make it. We’re talking some brilliant comic minds, like Larry David. They didn’t 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 didn’t 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, I’ll 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. “That’s where I get my pleasure,’ he says. “That’s how I get paid. I have fun when I’m 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. “It’s a tough town,” Irrera says. “It’s a unique place. It’s 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 wasn’t for me. I worked hard to get here. I appreciate what I do. There’s nothing else I would rather do.”

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