Tonight is the last night of Don Fanelli and my show Sketches from an Italian Restaurant: A Billy Joel Sketch Show, at the UCB Theatre. I’ve had such an amazing time running this show the past six months and am so proud and so thankful that we got to share this stupid little show with the people of New York.
Last March me and Don were on a tour up at UMass. And like every tour ever we listened to some Billy Joel on the drive back home and all sang along. I think it was Captain Jack, but it honestly could have been Pianoman, Scenes from an Italian Restaurant, Allentown… any of his songs. God he is so good.
When we got back Don and I took the subway home. We were lamenting the fact that we were feeling complacent, that all too common feeling that you’re doing too much to get any sleep but you always should be doing more. Writing a one man show is what we should both be doing, but it just wasn’t as fun… and we both wanted to work on something that both made us remember what we love about comedy in the first place and also pushed us.
The next day I texted him what you see above. Sketches From An Italian Restaurant was a joke title for a show that I was telling people about for a year. “What are you working on Dru?” “Oh Sketches from an Italian Restaurant. It’s my one man show about Billy Joel.” Never in my wildest dreams did I think that show would see the light of day. Don even admits to getting my text and thinking it was a joke. I suspected as much and sent the follow up text: “I’m very serious about this.”
From there we started getting to work. And we really dove into this show the exact way we wanted. We’d meet for hours listening to Billy Joel songs and pitching the sketch ideas that they inspired (two favorite really dumb ones: You May Be Right I May be Crazy, but it just may be a lunatic your looking for. But the guy saying it is ACTUALLY a crazy person AND We watch the music video for Keeping the Faith and then just look at the audience and say WHAT?!). We’d write shitty first drafts and then just improvise off of them. We’d send sketches back and forth, constantly rewriting them… One of our sketches in the current show is on draft 30-something… we stopped keeping track.
We then went through seven months of rigorously writing and rehearsing and rewriting and rewriting and rewriting with the help of our directors Dan Klein and Will Hines. We moved sketches around. We added animations to a powerpoint. We wrote a dance number. We cut a dance number. We sat in a room with Will for four hours pitching black out after black out after black out. We came up with over 20, we cut that down to 9. We cut that down to eight. If it didn’t remain funny after an hour it was out.
It was a brutal machine of Sketch Darwinism at it’s finest. The only thing that stayed constant throughout were three videos about Captain Jack and masturbating. Even after we got the run we spent two more months rewriting. Our current pianoman sketch has maybe one line from our third spank… and that line is “Sing us a song you’re the pianoman”. My favorite thing about working with Don is that he’s never satisfied. It can always be funnier. And working on this show brought that out in me. If you’re bored of the show the common idea is to say let’s fuck around on stage. No. Make it tighter. If we had the balls to title a show Sketches From An Italian Restaurant, we better make it undeniably funny and tight.
We went through one workout and three spanks, not to mention many sketch open mics and variety shows. We had an amazing run of six months. We got to take this show out to Los Angeles. And it’s still so fucking fun to do. I’m genuinely sad that the show is ending… but So It Goes. Let’s end this show with a fucking bang, the way Billy Joel would. Let’s celebrate this god of a man through the long night.
Thank you to everyone who’s come out to see it. Thanks to everyone who’s told us you enjoyed it and who supported it. It truly means the world to me to hear that people like it. It was just a silly joke title over a year ago, and now it’s the thing I’m the most proud of in my seven years of being here in New York.
And special thanks to Dan Klein and Will Hines, without who’s guidance and advice this project would never come to light. They pushed Don and I to reach a standard we never dreamed possible but something we should all be striving for. I could write for hours on how amazing they both are. And also special thanks to Alex Adan… who for six months has pitched great jokes for us and has NAILED this tech heavy show every single night without fail.
One last show. Tonight. If you have a girlfriend, tell her about it.
This show is awesome. I’m from Long Island and we sign a blood oath at birth to like Billy Joel. But even if you happen to not like Billy, you will still love this show. It’s super funny and tight as hell. Go while you still can!
VERY VERY FUNNY SHOW ABOUT A VERY TALENTED MUSICIAN.
Also I love this story. Great shows always involved a lot of hard work and it’s good to be reminded of that.
"I’m pretty sure I have psychic abilities. I got ripped off really badly by a con artist one time. Then years later, on a hunch, I walked over to the jail to see if he’d ever gotten arrested. Not only was he there, but I showed up just in time to have a say in his parole proceedings. Plus I’m really good at guessing what time it is."
me too. one time I predicted every plot point of The Big Chill while watching it for the first time. They call me The Big Chill Whisperer.
fuck you, caroline. kevin kline hates you.
All hail The Big Chill Whisperer, All hail Caroline!
This Monday night, Legs For Days has Maude Night all to itself as Bellvue visits San Francisco! It’ll be a super-sized show of boobs and pills and musclemen and daredevils and song, and you should come.
Legs For Days is Ann Carr, Daniel Chamberlain, Shalyah Evans, Jason Flowers, Karin Hammerberg, Michael Hartney, Hunter Nelson, Jared Neumark, Livia Scott, Katie Simon, Matt Starr, and Joel Weidl, directed by Benjamin Apple. Reservations here.
This. Show. Is on fiiiii-yahhhhh!
this will be a good fun time for everyone.
Great show coming up Monday night.
Come see this show tomorrow night! Legs for Days killed beloved Maude team Bellevue so we could do an hour long show. Don’t let Bellevue die in vain.
This month a bunch of creeps got together and wrote sketches like a punk band might write their songs. They’re gonna be fast, loud, straight to the point, and there’s gonna be a lot of them. OSFUG! Saturday 11:30 UCBeast!
Meetings for this show have been creepy as hell b/c of all the creeps! But also funny as hell, so you can just reap the rewards. Or creep the rewards as it were. Mhmmhmmhmmm.
From left to right, that’s Counselor Dane Troi Dr. Benjamin Crusher Cmdr. Willa Riker Captain Jeanne Picard Lt. Cmdr. Data Chief Engineer Geordi LaForge and Lt. Worf? I’m sorry, I’ve got nothing when it comes to Klingon names.
I really hope I’m not the only one on here who loves TNG. Regardless, there will be more of this. A lot more. No, really, I’m not sure I know how to stop.
Oh my god, Riker is so hot. Is this how the ladies all feel about Jonathan Frakes?
gender swaps! my fave thing
When Caroline is shouting “Two men!” from the living room, you know it’s gonna be good.