Breaking down barriers and building up smiles

Comedian John Poveromo performed his stand-up routine at Cozzy’s Comedy Club and Tavern and interviewed about the mutual enjoyment between audience and comedian

Comedian John Poveromo began his show at Cozy’s Comedy Club and Tavern after three openers Saturday night. KRISTEN ZICCARELLI / THE CAPTAIN’S LOG

By Kristen Ziccarelli

Perhaps one of the most obvious facts about comedy is that it makes people laugh. Not everyone has such a talent to appeal to a society with wide-ranging types of humor, but those that do can certainly make a name for themselves.

Brooklyn-born comedian John Poveromo performed at Cozzy’s Comedy Club and Tavern Saturday night, with three opening acts and a crowd filling almost every free table and chair. The dimly lit crowd reflecting white t-shirts and shiny drinks drew contrast to the spotlighted stage, where Poveromo performed his stand-up routine, receiving many laughs throughout the night.

Poveromo’s talk featured a little bit of every topic – social issues, relationships and some politics thrown in. However, he was quick to veer off course in his interactions with the audience, asking about their lives and making lighthearted fun of their responses.

In an interview, Poveromo elaborated on the best topics for stand-up: “I genuinely tend to lean more towards social commentary, I love talking about relationships, friendships and how people interact in general, but human behavior is my favorite thing to talk about.”

On Saturday night, Poveromo referred frequently back to his own life, but also brought in audience background and interests to personalize his comedy. For instance, he had a recurring joke about a man in the audience who mistakenly said his wife was also his sister. Poveromo immediately caught on to the audience’s laughter at this joke and brought it back several times throughout the show.

Since the first time he tried stand-up, Poveromo recognized how shows can be equally enjoyable for those in front and behind the spotlight.

“We get a bunch of older people and younger people, a great mix of people, they’re all there to have a good time, we’re all there to have a blast,” Poveromo said. “I really do get like a little bit of a buzz from telling a joke and having an audience respond to it.”

His technique and topic vary from audience to audience, but one of the most certain things is having a good time.

“I always go on stage, have something new in my act, [and] I like to improvise a lot,” Poveromo said. “I like getting in front of a new audience and just like having a good time, that’s my favorite part.”

Although Poveromo’s was an active member of his performance, he says comedy is not always about having an audience – at least in the more traditional sense.

Paraphrasing a quote from comedian Doug Stanhope, Poveromo says, “being a comedian isn’t always about getting on stage and making people laugh, it’s about making the cashier smile and crack up after having a bad day.”

He cites this kind of exchange as one of the most rewarding parts of his career.

“That’s the stuff I did when I was younger, working jobs and stuff that inspires me,” Poveromo said. “I like connecting with people and breaking down the norm.”

From an early age, he knew stand-up comedy was one of his favorite things to do, especially in the place of majoring in English or Political Science for four years in college and racking up a lot of debt.

“After my first year [in college], I wound up going, ‘I’d rather invest ten years of this, because by the time I’m 30 I’ll have ten years of experience at this job at this career and I think that’s invaluable,” Poveromo said.

During his career, Poveromo has had a few TV and radio experiences performing, as well as the opportunity to write for comedy or satirical shows that are aired on live TV. He describes himself as “notoriously off the cuff,” with a certain amount of excitement “like the first day of school.”

Hoping to continue and further his career as a comedian, Poveromo believes his more critical view of society can end up making a long-term difference beyond the amused reactions from a stand-up performance.

“I think comedy is important because comedy tends to break down barriers between people,” Poveromo said.  “Comedians change the culture and I don’t know if people realize that.”

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