Geno’s Stand Up Debut Featured in Lit Magazine

Hey guys, I’m very proud to be featured in a very eloquently written article by Ithaca College’s, Kellen Beck. The article explores the Open Mic Stand Up Comedy scene in Ithaca, NY. You can read the full piece at theithacan.org, but I’ve taken the liberty of putting the “Geno” portion here for your reading pleasure. Enjoy!

On a night with a particularly long lineup, Geno Vicario signs up last on Ruben’s paper. For over a year he has been writing down funny things he thinks of, coming up with jokes and writing material. Comedy is something he has wanted to do since he was a teenager, and tonight he wants to scratch it off his bucket list.

As the night draws on past Tom and some regulars, and a couple strong drinks down the hatch, his mind gets a little slow.

I’m not gonna remember anything.

The longer the night goes, he loses more and more confidence in his material. Over a dozen comedians perform before it’s his turn. He can’t do it tonight. He leaves.

A few weeks later, Ruben announces a theme night on Facebook, the second theme night ever for the open mic. Introvert vs. Extrovert, with comedians taking sides on “which personality type is supreme.”

As soon as Geno sees the theme, he knows he has to do it.

I have a lot of stuff for this.

After a week and a half he goes back to Lot 10 and orders a Jim Beam and Coke, tall. Not enough to get drunk, but enough to loosen up.

Geno’s main fear is getting up there and choking, forgetting everything. He’s been on stage before in his old band. But performing music with a group and being alone with a microphone, trying to make people laugh, are two very different things. He’s nervous, but not shaky.

Geno sits through the first two performers, and Ruben comes back to grab the mic, riffing on some of the material he just heard — A Ruben staple.

He brings up the energy in his voice. “Up next is a guy that I’ve only really known via Facebook, which usually only happens with girls I’m trying to have sex with, but in this case it’s just a guy who really wanted to come out and do comedy.”

He looks for Geno in the audience. “There he is! He’s coming out for the first time and is participating in the debate format, so let’s give a really warm welcome to Geno everybody!”

Cheers and applause emanate from the crowd as Geno moves up to the stage with his glass half full, a hoodie on over a button down. The two shake hands and Ruben skips off.

“Thank you!” Geno starts. “So, until Ruben clarified this earlier — ” he sets his drink down on the ground, “ — introvert/extrovert was the topic of the night, and I was prepared to talk about innies and outties, but uh, so I had a really killer 5 minutes on belly buttons so I had to chop these down on notecards, so bear with me.”

Not many laughs, but openers are tough. He looks over his notecards. He’s not concerned about the laughs, he’s concerned about looking confident. His posture is relaxed, his voice strong.

“You know that feeling when you’re just not in the mood to talk to somebody sometimes? That’s the way I am every single day.”

Geno says the worst thing in the world is to be out somewhere when you run into someone you know.

The laughter starts picking up. He has a good pace and an excitable demeanor.

With faux happiness, he mimics seeing someone: “‘Hey! What’s up? How you doin’?’”

“‘Hey, what’s up, how you doing’ is kind of a place-filler, until you figure out how the hell you’re gonna get out of this situation.”

The laughs get harder and he gets a few claps.

“I’m gonna start doing — when I run into someone I know — I’m just gonna say ‘OK then! I saw ya! Have a good one!’”

He hits his stride, getting his loudest laughter. He jokes about his Chinese barber not being able to speak English very well, and moves into a bit about introvert-enabling technology.

“It’s all put us in better communication with each other, that’s the beautiful thing, but it’s really worked wonders for helping us avoid each other,” he sets it up, with a slight pause.

“I don’t think I’ve answered the phone in three years,” he says to laughs. “When the phone rings, I think, ‘This person is either a lunatic or there’s an emergency.’ Either way I’m not gonna answer that.”

He gets a small applause break. He feels good. The crowd is welcoming and his jokes are working. When he finishes and steps off, he continues to feel good. He’s shocked that he feels this way. He prepared himself for disaster, and it didn’t happen. He’s ready to go back up there and do it again.

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