(Above: Photo of Ted Alexandro by Charles Meacham.)
What do they say about New York City: There are eight million stories, and sometimes it seems as though eight million of the people telling them think they’re comedians? No, that’s not it. It is a fact, though, that America’s biggest city is also its biggest comedy mecca. Hollywood may be Hollywood, but New York City is where comedians are born funny, become funny or arrive to thrust their funny upon us. I think we should meet some of these people. This is a recurring feature, a mini-profile of newcomers, up-and-comers and overcomers of New York’s vibrant comedy scene. It’s called Meet Me In New York.
Ted Alexandro is a native New Yorker who has done so much for the city’s comedy scene both on- and offstage over the past two decades. He helped organize the New York Comedians Coalition to campaign for better wages for stand-ups in the city. Time Out NY called him one of “21 New York Comedy Linchpins.” Alexandro’s TV credits include sets on the late-night shows with David Letterman, Conan O’Brien, Craig Ferguson, and Jimmy Kimmel, plus two half-hour Comedy Central Presents specials. Dave Attell says “Ted Alexandro is probably one of the best comics I have ever seen. The guy’s like zen about it, he’s so calm. He’s got some great, great material. The way he thinks is unique and very special.” Bill Burr adds: “Ted Alexandro is a comic’s comic. He’s one of the best in the business. I love what he does.”What do they say about New York City: There are eight million stories, and sometimes it seems as though eight million of the people telling them think they’re comedians? No, that’s not it. It is a fact, though, that America’s biggest city is also its biggest comedy mecca. Hollywood may be Hollywood, but New York City is where comedians are born funny, become funny or arrive to thrust their funny upon us. I think we should meet some of these people. This is a recurring feature, a mini-profile of newcomers, up-and-comers and overcomers of New York’s vibrant comedy scene. It’s called Meet Me In New York.
How could I not spotlight him today, as he self-releases his new stand-up special, “I Did It,” as a video download for whatever you’ll pay him for it at tedalexandro.com (my review)? So let’s get to know more about Ted and his NYC experience!
Name: Ted Alexandro
Arrival date: Born in Queens, NY
Arrived from: n/a
When and where did you start performing comedy? My very first set was at a community center talent show when I was maybe 20, but that was a one-off. I was adequate, considering it was in a gym and nobody was listening. My first proper set was at The Duplex in 1994. Although, I should mention before that I performed as part of a duo (James & Ted) with Hollis James for a year or two. That was fun and it got me familiar with the open mic scene around NY.
What was your first credit? My first big credit was Conan. That was maybe ’98 or ’99. I wore an awful sweater that I’m pretty sure I thought looked good at the time. I think I cuffed my jeans, too. People should’ve just booed the way I looked.
How did growing up in NYC shape your desire to be in show business? Growing up in NY puts you in close proximity to an incredibly palpable creative energy. There are so many great artistic experiences at your fingertips in NYC. Seeing community theater at my local church really played a big role in inspiring me to want to perform. It made it tangible, seeing young people in my neighborhood on stage. I had a definite sense early on that when I was around creative people, I was home.
Did growing up in NYC make it any easier to launch your comedy career here? I think it did. When I started doing comedy I was living in Bellerose, which is in eastern Queens. I was half-way between the Long Island comedy clubs and Manhattan. It was ideal, because I had a car and I was able to drive back and forth and get a good amount of stage time.
Have you ever considered moving to L.A. or elsewhere to further your career? Yes, I went out to L.A. a couple of times for pilot season. I spent about four months or so each time. I went out there expecting my development deal and pot of gold, as was promised. It turned out to be more of an exercise in not getting depressed. Looking back, it was great life experience but not at all what I had hoped for professionally. I remember an agent saying “We’ll get you out on auditions four or five times a week.” I think I got less than that for the entire time I was out there. But I played a lot of basketball and developed a taste for avocado.
What tip would you give to any comedian who moves here? Make friends. Get out there, go to shows. Meet other comedians. See if there are shows you can get sets on. Everything will take longer than you want. Don’t move here to become famous or even to immediately be a working comic. Lots of comics live here already. Move here because you want to live in NY. You will spend a lot more time being a New Yorker than being a comedian, especially early on. But with time and focus, you’ll realize things are happening.
Where do you see yourself five years from now? I never see myself anywhere, really. And I’m always pleasantly surprised where I wind up. I’m a comedian, man. I do this job to avoid answering questions like that.
Here is a preview clip. Roll it!
Which NYC comedian would you like to see me style and profile next for Meet Me In New York? Send your nominations to: thecomicscomic AT gmail DOT com