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.
It took me a minute back in the late 2000s to know which Anthony DeVito my comedy friends would talk about. “Comic. Writer. Italian.” Sure, that’s the description on this DeVito’s home page, but it’s a bit easier if you said the shorter hairier Anthony DeVito. Which even he’d jokingly tell you and any other audience — whether it’s The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Comedy Central’s Adam Devine’s House Party, opening for Michelle Wolf’s HBO special last weekend in New York City, or his own upcoming half-hour special this fall on Comedy Central. All of which he’s already done. This Anthony P. DeVito also has appeared as a New Face at Montreal’s Just For Laughs, spoken on NPR’s This American Life, won Caroline’s March Madness competition, and been seen performing on AXS TV’s Gotham Comedy Live and Seeso’s NY Funniest.
He’s currently the head writer and regular panelist sidekick for Sam Morill on MSG’s late-night talker, People Talking Sports and Other Stuff, and he has his first stand-up comedy album out today. It’s called “Dream Occupation.” So what better time to get to know more about this Anthony DeVito!
Name: Anthony P. DeVito
Arrived From: New Jersey
Arrival Date: 2008
When and where did you start performing comedy?
“Technically, I had done it in New Jersey years before moving to New York. But that was just a couple times.”
“My first NYC mic was at Cake Shop when Kate Berlant hosted it. I went up under a fake name, Leslie Oliver. I was too scared to write jokes as myself, so I told boring stories where the joke was the tedium. Some people thought I was high concept. Really, I was nervous.”
What was your best credit when you moved here?
“That I knew Greg Stone.”
Why did you pick NYC instead of Los Angeles or anywhere else?
“My family lives in New Jersey. I talk to my Mom everyday, I see her about two-three times a month. I spent most of my early 20s traveling, I wanted to be closer to home. Also, I still had a foot in architecture. Comedy was in the back of my mind when it came to living in NY. I moved here because I loved the city.
Also, I didn’t even know people moved to LA for comedy. I thought it was only actors coming off a bus from the Midwest who end up in pornography.”
How is this scene better/worse/different from the scene you started in/moved from?
“It’s more scattered. When I started, it didn’t matter what scene you were in, everyone went to Kabin on Thursday night. So, it became a place where both alt and club comics were. And, I think comedy best benefits from variety in sensibilities.
You need each room to be well-rounded. Mics and alt rooms reward original premises. Clubs crowds are more interested in hard punchlines. So, doing both makes your bits bulletproof. Then, you do the bit at a casino and realize there’s no such thing as bulletproof.”
How long did it take you to get your first paid gig in New York after moving here?
“I think it was a year and a half. I was lucky enough to do Whiplash soon after starting. When I did it, there was a college kid in the crowd who booked a ‘kosher college comedy tour.’ I look close enough, so I got the gig. We did a Hillel house in Rutgers, NJ. I probably made $100. I didn’t know making money in comedy was possible. At the time, three drink tickets felt like six figures. I still don’t know what six figures feels like.”
Can you describe an “only in New York” experience from living here? How do your describe this city to outsiders?
“There was a street performer on an afternoon N train I always took into Manhattan. He did magic. He’d do two tricks, then reach into his bag for a third one. But, he’d just pull out a bird. He skipped the step where he had nothing, then a bird. He’d just show everyone he had a bird. It made me laugh so hard. And, no one looked up. Living in NYC is like being in a haunted house. The city doesn’t want you here. Instead of a ghost flicking the lights on and off, the subway will skip your stop when you’re already late.”
What tip would you give any comedian who moves here?
“Be a person in NYC. People travel from all over the world to this town. You’re not just doing comedy in NYC, you’re also living here. And, don’t waste your time on egg creams. They’re all gross.”
Where do you see yourself five years from now?
“The White House.”
Get Anthony DeVito’s “Dream Occupation” wherever you buy your comedy albums these days, including iTunes and Amazon here:
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