Gastar Almonte tells in stories.
The comedic performances he did at any New York club as often as he could included stories that elicited more laughter than relying on clear cues.
Eventually, one of those gigs led to Almonte becoming a writer and performer in the Comedy Central film “It Doesn’t Happen,” in which he performed programs called “Brooklyn Batman” and “Reverse Drive-By”.
The show was spotted by its graduates of “The Office” Ed Helm and Randall Park when they launched their peacock show about people’s personal experiences of “The True Story with Ed and Randall”.
Almonte was going to record a commercial for “True Story” after a phone interview we did about his show this Saturday at New Hope’s Bucks County Playhouse, where he will join Mike Alba in an evening of storytelling.
In his career, Almonte says he distinguishes between storytelling and stand-up, changing both.
“Stories,” he says, “are always about what happened. You can decorate some details to make the story stronger, but you never invent it. You tell the story of how it unfolded, but make it funny and engaging. What makes history laugh at everyone is the ring of truth.
“Stories can be about familiar, cognitive experiences or everyday things that happen to you that are funny because they have a common thread. In addition, there are stories that seem to happen only to you, and they also work, thanks to the truth that they have, and people love to listen to what other people are going through.
“Standup can go anywhere. That shouldn’t be true as long as it’s funny. Often it also comes from situations or experiences that people acknowledge. In the stand, everything goes and you can come up with everything you want, people who don’t exist, events that never happened to make you laugh.
“Standup is when you make an installation and aim for the line of impact. Telling stories is about engaging the audience with what happened to you and making them laugh at you more than you do. ”
The stories have been a part of Almont’s world since his childhood.
At family reunions, already at the age of two, instead of going out and playing with other children, he sat with folded arms with his father and uncles to listen to their stories.
“The family gathered every weekend, all without exception, and my uncles were happy when they just talked about what happened to them at work or on their day.
“Children were not very welcome in the room with their uncles because they wanted to be free with their language. To stay with the adults, I had to pay dues by telling stories about my week. As long as I made these men laugh, I could stay. Listening to them, I learned a lot about life and a lot about performances, making sure I made them laugh. “
Standup was always on Almont’s mind when he thought about what he wanted to do at work. “I liked the idea that people would pay me for the conversation, but I come from an immigrant family and had to earn a living. You are not telling immigrant parents, at least my immigrant parents, that you are going to work for nothing or even at your own expense until you are discovered and able to support yourself stand up.
“I worked at Pepsico and had a good job, the best part of which was getting samples in simple white packets with new products like Doritos cheeseburgers layered to mimic the taste of cheeseburgers in the order you taste them, most of which have never been made it’s on the market.
“To advance in business, I decided to take a course that would allow me to comfortably engage in public speaking. You know when I became CEO. The course was to teach executives to stand-up just to smash shells and compete on the podium. The task was to write routines. I laughed at my stories, encouraged the teachers and the idea I wanted to fulfill.
“While I kept working, I played in local clubs. Three years later I got a call from Comedy Central because someone saw me and wanted me to be involved in “It Doesn’t Happen”. “This booking changed my life forever. I could go to my parents and with immigrant pride say I quit my job because my comedy will support me.
“Then I got a call from“ The True Story of Ed and Randall ”because they liked the part of me that they saw in the PBS special. I’ve never met Ed Helm or Randall Park, but before I know it, I’m in Los Angeles, and I think I’ll see the city, meet people and run smart networks, but there was a pandemic and I was limited in my hotels and hotel rooms to eat and all so I would be safe to do the show. I told my story from my hotel room. Ed and Randall used their magic wherever they were. I now live in Los Angeles, but continue to look forward to the opportunity of being with Ed and Randall in the studio.
“It’s crazy that telling stories and jokes is a job, but I’ve been preparing for it all my life, and I like that I can do it.”
Work during breaks
If last week’s show during the Super Cup break deserved an award as “best break show”, it could only be because many of the extravaganzas in the middle of the game over the years have been so bleak.
This year’s presentation was more than in recent years. It features different performers instead of one. He placed these performers on small, controlled stages that gave the camera a chance to focus and frame the act instead of following it on a wild and winding tour of the stadium.
In that sense, the show was an improvement over the more ambitious displays, which rarely gave performers time or peace of mind to attract a TV audience to it, let alone a crowd in a huge arena.
That makes it better, but this year’s show still hasn’t been good.
This happened in two cases: when Mary J. Blige came on stage, though she was dressed in clothes, she looked as if she had borrowed from Tina Turner, who would not have been flattering to either of them, and when Snoop Dogg made his patented jump, which is cute and so much fun.
Eminem also managed to create a spark or two of star power.
Otherwise it was sad and, frankly, incomprehensible.
High-amplit hot microphones are the curse of most live entertainment. Sound designers should be denied praise if they give the volume so loud that it erases the lyrics of any song.
Among the reasons I prefer Blige’s speech to others is that I could hear her. I could understand what she was singing and thought it worked in a Super Cup setting and matched what her star colleagues were doing.
I never understood a word from Dr. Dre, except 497 times when he mentioned his name in his numbers. Snoop Dogg at least added harmony and suggested these sleek dance moves.
The lesson I hope to learn here: although television requires movement, numbers like Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Blige, Kendrick Lamar, and Eminem worked best when the performer could limit the range of motion with dance steps and easy wandering around the stage. platforms.
The producers worked hard to move the performers off the stage and group them together.
Some dances were funny. They look active, but I see in them daily and silly gymnastics. I laughed out loud at Dr. Dre’s synchronized troupe, which was similar to a cross between the Army of the Wicked Witch of the West and the Kaiser’s soldiers heading out of Germany to fight World War I.
Herbert is on the rise
One of the careers I watch with attention and interest is Daniel Herbert.
As a teenager in Philadelphia, Herbert starred in both the Liberty Theater and the Walnut Street Theater. She was given and given chances. Even if she felt like an artist, it could be said that she was a young woman who wanted to succeed and make her life an actor and a singer.
Over the years, and I’m talking about 20 of them, Herbert has appeared on Broadway, returned to Philadelphia on tour shows and done some significant work on television.
Her most famous role is Ginny “Babs” Babson, who appeared in the third and fifth seasons of Netflix “Orange is the New Black”. Babs is a prisoner in Lichfield and a supporter of the character Annie Golden, Norma, an unspoken mystic who communicates via notebook and paper and recruits others, such as Babs, into her inner cult.
This week, Herbert returns to Philadelphia as a touring tour of “Beautiful,” a Broadway musical about singer and songwriter Carol King, at the Academy of Music Tuesday through Sunday.
Rivers ’plays are worth a look
Suddenly I want to go back and take a closer look at the two series I watched briefly when they were new, “One of Us Lies” by Peacock and “HBO’s“ Neveki ”.
The reason? I’ve seen the play “It’s a Bitter Land” by playwright Harrison David Rivers, who is one of the screenwriters of both of these programs.
Having heard Rivers ’sincerity, realism, and ease of dialogue in“ This Better Earth, ”recently closed at Philadelphia’s InterAct Theater, I want to get to know his sensitivity, which I think is more direct, honest, and refreshing than most. what happens to new voices in the theater.
Rivers raises issues with common sense that keep them interesting and civilized, while refusing to succumb to the rules of “decent play” of recent conscious and strictly politically correct scenarios. Watching his play, I kept thinking I wanted to meet this guy, which was a rare feeling for me. Usually I prefer to see only my works and not know much about them away from them.
It would be sad and vile for me to tell you how much I enjoyed sharing two characters, gays of different races and backgrounds in relationships, except that InterAct allows people to see “This Bitter Earth” even though his live performances are over.
For two weeks, from February 28 to March 13, InterAct broadcasts Rivers ’thoughtful and eventful play on its website www.interacttheatre.org. Please follow the instructions found there. They let you decide if you want to view the play, and allow you to view it in sections if you want. This is an event with tickets, tickets usually cost $ 25 at a discount for students and people in the live entertainment industry.
While I’m watching “One of Us Lies” and “Never”, I can look forward to the new series that “Rivers” is developing for HBO based on E. Lynn Harris ’novel“ Invisible Life ”.
Neil Zoren’s TV column is every Monday.