“I was born in Jersey City and moved out to the suburbs, Scotch Plains when I was about 8 years old,” says the man known as “New Jersey’s Bad Boy” as he discussed his upcoming performances at the Victoria Theater at NJPAC in Newark, April 7 at 7 and 9:30 p.m.
Mike Marino has performed his comedy in venues all over the world, yet this guy from North Jersey really didn’t intend it to happen that way.
“I’ve been an actor my entire life, ever since I was a little kid; I never really wanted to be a comedian,” he says. “I didn’t get into comedy until I was around 28 or 29. I had already been on a lot of TV commercials and I was in soap operas (‘One Life to Live,’ ‘As the World Turns’) and when I moved to California trying to get work as an actor, a lot of people kept saying that I was funny … so I just went with it. I started meeting a lot of other comedians. I cut my teeth at the Comedy Store and I got addicted to it.
“There’s no better high than performing and having people laugh and enjoy what you’re doing. And through stand-up I ended up getting parts on TV shows and parts in movies and now I’m in the top 100 touring comedians in the country.”
Marino has paid his dues to grace those small and big screens through hard work and dedication or perhaps tenacity; his career is now in full bloom.
“I was on ‘Party of Five,’ ‘Becker,’ ‘Frazier,’ I was a regular sketch player on ‘The Tonight Show’ for about 10 years,” he says. “I just finished a movie that’s out now called ‘Criticized.’ I actually co-star as a detective looking for the murderer. It’s on Amazon Prime and my most recent live performance from the Borgata in Atlantic City is now on Amazon Prime, too. They both came out at the same time with the same director. which is really great for us all.
“We’ve also created a TV series about me running for President of the United States (‘Marino 2016’). Go to my YouTube channel, Mike Marino Live. and watch the series that we created, it’s very funny.”
Marino lives on the West Coast these days, close to the epicenter of his career, but comes home as often as possible. And this coming week is a reunion with friends, family and, most of all, his fans, when his Make America Italian Again Tour stops at NJPAC. With both shows nearing sold-out status, Marino doesn’t even attempt to hide his excitement. and promises a fun night for those who attend.
“This is big, man,” he says. “I’ve got a DJ playing music that’s going to put people in a great mood; I always have a DJ that makes people happy. I’ve got Bill Spadea from 101.5 hosting the show and then I brought in Jon Bramnick, who is a state assemblyman, and he wanted to do stand-up so I said, ‘Okay, you’re on the show (laughs).’ So you’re gonna get some politics and then you’re gonna get 100 percent of me losing my mind on one of the most incredible stages in the country.”
Never one to shy away from discussing his Italian heritage, he finds humor in his family and some stereotypes. Perhaps this is the reason why he returns often to his Jersey roots and goes “Facebook Live” with a show and engages fans, celebrities, friends and more.
“I have a house still in New Jersey; I actually own the home I grew up in, which is where I do the show, ‘Live From My Mother’s Basement,’ and I have a place in Los Angeles. I’m coming home Friday for about five weeks but I’ll be going to Pittsburgh, Pa., Florida; so it depends on where I’m touring. I do three shows a week somewhere around the world, and I do a cruise ship once a month; it’s phenomenal.”
Marino averages between 150 and 200 shows a year. If you want to catch him April 7 at NJPAC or anywhere else on this tour, visit mikemarino.net.
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