Thursday, 21 February 2013 09:50

Gary Valentine: Funny is a Family Business

Written by  Josh Spanninga
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Gary Valentine
Lowell High School Performing Arts Center
March 17, 7 p.m.
$22.50 (Reserved Seating)
laughfestgr.org

Sometimes comedy is a family affair – at least for Gary Valentine. Take for instance the way he was introduced to the world of comedy.

"It was in 1988 when my mother signed me up for an open mic night at a local comedy club," Valentine said.

Where most comedians have to explain to their parents why they decided to give up their office job and toss out their college credentials to pursue a career in comedy, Valentine had his mother there egging him on.

But his mom isn't his only enabler. For a while, he had a recurring role as Cousin Danny on the hit show "King of Queens," where he acted alongside his brother, Kevin James.

"I have a bit in my stand-up act about an Italian pizza maker in New York," he said. "And we figured it'd be a funny way to work my character onto 'King of Queens.'"

At the get-go, Valentine proved to be a natural while filming in front of a live audience, but that's probably in part to his years of experience in stand-up.

"With television, it's an immediate reaction," Valentine said. "It's more like stand-up because there's a live audience, and when you say a funny line you get an immediate response, and you know if something is funny or not."

"King of Queens" isn't the only time Valentine and James collaborated. Valentine has also worked with his brother on The Zookeeper and Here Comes the Boom. And while sibling rivalry is slim, Valentine says the hardest part of working on these movies is keeping a straight face.

"You laugh a lot," Valentine said. "It's hard to get through the scenes sometimes."

Of course, the acting gigs and collaborations make up only part of Valentine's career. He has an impressive history of stand-up from performing at the Montreal Comedy Festival to appearing on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" and other late night talk shows. He has also been headlining comedy clubs for more than 15 years, delivering his own brand of comedy inspired by the silliness of Steve Martin, but with a twist.

"It's more of the guy who thinks he's on top of it and has it all figured out, and really he has no clue."

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