Wednesday, October 19, 2011
TOM RAGU: Are You Ready to Be "Tickled Pink"?
Are You Ready to Be “Tickled Pink”?
Is Tom Ragu “The Busiest Man in Comedy“? Perhaps there’s nobody better to ask than Mr. Ragu himself. He tells me, “Well, I just like to keep busy, because if I don't, I'll eat a loaf of bread while watching ‘The View‘ with Pete Ragú, my cute little BFF. I love him so much.” For those inquiring minds out there, Pete Ragu is Tom’s unyieldingly loyal pooch. The woofy New York City native (Tom, not Pete…) wears two hats-- and sometimes three, but please don‘t ask me where he wears that THIRD one… In addition to plying his trade as furry funnyman, Ragu is also a producer, being the creator and host of the weekly “Tom Ragu Comedy Revue“ on Monday nights at the Stonewall Inn in New York City. More recently, he has brought us “Tom Ragú Presents: Sorry, We're Funny.”, a traveling comedy/variety show which promises to showcase lots of new and unsung performers. Ragu has a knack for discovering new talent, as you may have guessed: Just when you think that you’ve discovered the “last comic standing” in The Naked City, Tom will find another one to tickle your funny bone… or, tickle any body part you wish. On the subject of tickling, also on Ragu’s lineup is “Tickled Pink”, a variety show which is part of The Fresh Fruit Festival this month. The event is scheduled for Tuesday, October 25th in New York City. Tom and I met to discuss life, laughs, and lasagna…
JR: Hi Tom! Thanks for taking the time to talk to me! Now, in addition to “The Tom Ragú Comedy Revue”, your bi-weekly comedy shows at New York City‘s legendary Stonewall Inn, you have created "Tom Ragú Presents: Sorry, We're Funny." - a new traveling comedy and variety show that, according to the press release, “un-apologetically features some of New York and New Jersey’s best comics, variety acts, and misfits…” What are some of the surprises you have in store for us with this endeavor?
TR: I really wanted to start a show that was more than just a lineup of comics. I've been dying to "hit the road" for a long time now and I thought that this was the perfect opportunity to produce that show I've been longing to do: Comedians. Performance artists. Musical artists. Drag Queens. Poets. Jugglers. A clown. But I needed a name. One fine day, I was walking around in Chelsea - well, actually, Ninth Avenue because overweight comedians with mother issues are not allowed to walk along Eighth Avenue with the rest of the Skinny Bitches - and I saw a shopkeeper switch his sign in the window from "Come in, We're Open" to "Sorry, We're Closed" .. and I thought "That's it! That's the new name!" and "Tom Ragú Presents: Sorry, We're Funny" was born. Our first show is at NYC's Laugh Lounge. Our second show is in East Brunswick, New Jersey. Our third show will be on Long Island, New York. I'll be getting around. Try and act surprised.
JR: I will! What can you tell us about “Tickled Pink“?
TR: "Tom Ragú Presents: Ticked Pink" - October 25th at The Workshop Theater - is going to be a fabulous celebration of all things Gay! Or do the kids say 'Queer' now? Have we taken that word back yet?
Anyhow, this show is what happens when you mix part drag queen, part gay comedian, add a leather person and a gay rapper, with a producer with too many shows, a gay hip-hop artist, a dash of a lesbian comedian, a Queen with a ukulele and a member of The Imperial Court of New York - then add alcohol and SHAKE! The result: one fabulous show - part of The Fresh Fruit Festival, which supports the LGBTQ arts. It's either going to be really good or really bad! Your readers should check it out to see which!
JR: I agree! Now, you and I both know that sometimes a stand-up comedian can go on stage and the audience just doesn’t, shall we say, “feel it”. As a performer, you must have had a moment of two like that in your history of performing. Or maybe not… But anyway, how does a comedian get through it?
TR: I think that every single performer has - whether one is a comic, an actor, a dancer, or whatever one's passion - gone through performing their little heart out, and then the audience just didn't get it. I certainly know that it has happened to me a number of times. It really feels horrible. The only way I can describe it is how you would feel if someone told you that you had an ugly baby. Horrible! But I really do believe that all of those times have certainly made me stronger as a performer. And that's how you get through it. Knowing that in a year or two, it will all be different.
JR: It seems like we live in an unshockable society. Nothing really raises an eyebrow nowadays in the news. That said, are there any topics that you WON’T touch in your performances?
TR: There are things that are inherently funny across the board. And there are things that are never funny. For me, I don't think that death, despair, human suffering, or disease are funny. Oh, and anything too vulgar and tasteless. I like to leave the vulgarity and tastelessness to certain husband and husband comedy teams that shall remain nameless. As they should be. Oh, snap!
JR: (Laughs) In your opinion, who are some of the “unsung heroes” of the world of comedy?
TR: There are literally thousands and thousands of young people who are so incredibly talented and funny, and the majority of them will never see the light of day. They get railroaded through the clubs into doing the "bringer" scene - which is doing shows sponsored by the clubs in which one is required to "bring" people. It gets very old very fast. I did two "bringer" shows in my life, and then I looked around, and I saw that everyone else in the room was making money. The Manger was making money; the Booker was making money; the club owner was making money; the waitstaff was making money; even the host of the show was making money. So I decided to create my own opportunities. If you let them, these big comedy clubs will have new comics in the "bringer" cycle for years. These young people have no idea that there is a whole world out there, and that nothing will happen for you if one doesn't create their own opportunities.
JR: How true. Now, on to more serious subjects. Reportedly, the powers that be are making a new “prequel” of “Sex and the City” for TV. Do you plan on watching it when it comes out?
TR: (Laughs) No, I am spending my time watching "The Playboy Club" and the re-launch of "Charlie's Angels" ... Wait. What? They cancelled those shows? Oh, damn. Now what will I do with myself? I guess I'll have to go back to "I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant."
JR: If you had to pick one of the following events to go to, which one would it be (Sorry, feigning illness is NOT an option!):
1. A dinner party (with cocktails!) with the cast of “The Real Housewives of (pick a city…) ”,
2. A book signing party (with cocktails!) with Alexis Stewart (daughter of Martha), who has a new tell-all book called “Martha Dearest”… no, the title is actually “Learning to Live Here”,
3. A “Motivational Seminar (with cocktails!)” with Gayle King,
4. A sneak preview of the upcoming Liberace movie (with cocktails!), or…
5. The Michael Jackson doctor murder trial (No cocktails, but there might be propofol available…)
TR: I'd love to have some face-time with Gayle King because she is a Pop Culture Junkie like me! Moreover, I'd love to know if Oprah snores while she sleeps, and if Gayle nudges her or if she just moves to the other room! That's right, I said it. I am tired of pretending that those two are not a couple. Anyhow, I do think that I have to go with a sneak-preview of the new Liberace flick - for no other reason than to see the on-screen kiss between Matt Damon & Michael Douglas, and watching Matt Damon trying not to vomit in his mouth at the mere thought!
JR: You took the vomit… uh, I mean the words, right out of my mouth! Now, I’m gonna get personal: A few years ago, I was dining out with my family and I ordered the vegetable lasagna. It came out with tomato sauce, not the white sauce (bechamel) that the dish is traditionally served with. I wanted to speak to the chef. My mother was enraged-- she turned as red as the tomato sauce-- and asked me how dare I question the chef … and how dare I “embarrass” her like that? She still brings up that incident ten years later. So, because I know you are such a great cook, I have to ask the final, most serious question of all: Is it ever OK to put tomato sauce on vegetable lasagna?
TR: I would be enraged too. I am enraged right now! Not because you wanted to add marinara sauce to vegetarian lasagna (!) but because you have decided to ask me about it!!! You know that I am so busy producing 45 shows and raising my child, I mean dog, Pete Ragú. Why the heck are you asking me about lasagna? Go find Mario Batali somewhere with his stupid orange crocs, and leave me the hell alone!
Are we done? There is a fantastic all-you-can-eat Chinese Buffet right around the corner, and I'm starving.
Starving for laughter? Join hosts Jed Ryan and Tom Ragú as they present the different, the unique and the misunderstood in "Tom Ragú Presents: Tickled Pink" - a comedy & variety show featuring some of NY & NJ's best comics, musical acts and misfits.
Admission: $12.00 (includes a beverage)
Scheduled to appear: Ben Lerman, Tom Ragú, Lester Greene, Bone Intell, Juan Pablo, Chanelle Futrell, Jay Edwards, Sunshine Richard McLean, and Witti Repartee.
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
at The Workshop Theatre
312 West 36th Street, NYC
Visit www.TomRagu.com for more info!