Sometimes people say the comedy world is a cold world filled with backbiting and people getting screwed over. Cris and Paul Italia, and Patrick Milligan of Cringe Humor proved that to be false. As part of the NY Comedy Festival, they held a tribute to Mike DeStefano, a talented comic they were working with who left us much too young.
The event was held at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center, and it was a packed house. That was a tribute to them as well as to Mike, cause it’s not easy to get people to show up for anything in New York, when there are always so many other things to choose from.
Cringe was producing Mike’s one-man show originally called “Drugs, Disease, and Death, – A Comedy”, which got changed to be the more “user-friendly” name ” A Cherry Tree In The Bronx!” It was Mike’s story of living with HIV, losing his wife to AIDS, and carrying the message of recovery to sick and suffering alcoholics and drug addicts which was part of his past, and a very important focus of his life. Mike was about helping people, as well as making them laugh in the process!
It could have been a somber event, but thanks to MC Rich Vos, who can make any event funny, and a line-up that included Bonnie McFarlane,Eugene Mirman,Robert Kelly,Kurt Metzger, Mike Vecchione, and Colin Quinn, it was a raucous laughfest! Mike would have been happy. His look-alike brother Joe was there, and the likeness is astonishing.
I went with Richie Tienken, owner and founder of the legendary comedy club The Comic Strip where Mike was a regular, although it didn’t start out that way. When Mike’s Uncle Pete asked Richie to give Mike a shot, he did, but Mike was so dirty that Richie didn’t get it. Two years later, he came to perform for Richie again, and when Richie saw how much the audience liked Mike, he made him a regular. Mike hung out at The Strip a lot, before he did Last Comic Standing and afterwards as well.
So the comedy world may be a dysfunctional family, but it’s a family nevertheless!
Check out the video below for an exclusive interview with Cris Italia from Cringe Humor!