Ray Romano At His BestWatch
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|2001||Live at Carnegie Hall|
|2006||Comic Relief 2006
Benefit show that features multiple comics.
|2004||95 Miles to Go|
|1996||HBO Comedy Half-Hour: Ray Romano|
|1992||The 15th Annual Young Comedians Special|
|1990||Caroline's Comedy Hour|
|1988||MTV Half Hour Comedy Hour|
|1998||Everything and a Kite|
They all laughed at the very idea: “Everybody Loves Raymond.” Raymond who? Ray Romano seemed like a very ordinary comedian with a voice misplaced in his kidneys somewhere instead of his throat. At best, he was a younger David Brenner with a few fresh anecdotal stories about growing up.
But nestled into a Monday night line-up anchored by veteran star of family fare Bill Cosby, Romano’s show began to gather steam. And while his version of a family sitcom was filled with bellicose insults hurled by various cast members at each other, fans recognized there was some kind of love between Ray and his parents, and soon enough, everybody seemed to be watching. Ray Romano had a Top Ten hit.
He’d come a long way from a whimsical decision to perform on an open mike night in a local comedy club. He did it to impress his date: “It was the girl’s birthday, and I wanted to give her a unique birthday present.” Romano, born and raised in Queens, New York, had always been able to get his friends chuckling over his anecdotes. It worked in front of an audience of strangers as well.
In 1984 he began to work the local clubs, graduating to headliner. Merely an affable entertainer, hardly distinctive, Romano seemed to thrive as another of the “blue collar” comics and road warriors who went out, did a pleasanat night’s work, and collected a decent check. His laidback attitude turned into his most defined trait.
“I’m glad that my career moved at the pace it did,” he reflects, “If you’re an overnight success, where do you go?”
In 1989, the journeyman comic won a comedy competition sponsored by a beer company and a local New York rock radio station. He won $10,092 and some important publicity. He went on to the “Just For Laughs Festival” in Canada, the HBO 15th Annual Young Comedians Special and appearances with Jay Leno and David Letterman. Letterman became a big fan, and in 1996 signed Ray for sitcom development.
From a pleasant stand-up, Romano emerged at last as, in his phrase, a “likably clueless” sitcom character. Fame hasn’t changed him much. He is a homebody, caring for his four children and sympathizing with wife Anna: “She’s home alone with kids, kids, kids. When she sees me, she wants to be mentally stimulated. But I’ve been talking all day at work. I’m talked out.” So what do they do? “We yell. We argue about me not wanting to talk, and that becomes our conversation.”
Romano’s observations have struck a chord with both husbands and wives. His advice for other guys is simple: Accept your cluelessness. Don’t fight it…ask for your wife’s help and appreciate it. That’s endearing to women.” His advice on aging is equally simple. “I trick myself. I imagine I’m 48, 49, wishing I was 40 again. Then I realize I am 40, and it’s great to be 40.” And here’s some advice away from home…when you’re staying in a hotel: “It doesn’t pay to be a nice guy when you’re checking in. If you seem like the type who won’t complain, they’ll give you an undesirable room, like the one near the dumpster. Say ‘Give me the room you’ll give me when I don’t like the first one.’”
In 1999, Ray dusted off some of his older material, wrote up some new observations, and alot of fans and book critics loved ““Everything and a Kite,” which is something to do on the other six nights when “Raymond” isn’t on the air.