On Stage: D’Alesandro brings laughs to Philly; RIP, Boot and Saddle

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By Denny Dyroff, Entertainment Editor, The Times

Eric D’Alessandro

That the possibility finding a live show in the area by a national act has been virtually eliminated by COVID-19 restrictions is hardly a laughing matter.

For example, just this week, one of Philadelphia’s long running and highly respected rock clubs closed for good.

However, going out this weekend for a live indoor show at a club is a laughing matter.

Finding a live comedy show by a national act performed locally is relatively easy thanks to Punch Line Philly (33 East Laurel Street, Philadelphia, www.punchlinephilly.com).

Following the venue’s successful Patio Series, Punch Line Philly, the comedy club in the Fishtown section of Philadelphia, is bringing top-flight comedians to the club for a series of socially distanced performances.

This weekend, Punch Line will present both indoor and outdoor shows — The Corey Holcomb 5150 Show from November 12-15 indoors and Eric D’Alessandro on November 13 and 14 as part of the Patio Series.

D’Alessandro’s roots are in Staten Island, NY and it was there that his comedic ability evolved.

“I grew up on The North Shore of Staten Island,” said D’Alessandro, during a phone interview from his hometown Tuesday afternoon.

A pivotal moment in D’Alessandro’s career was when he moved cross-country to Los Angeles to pursue his passion as a creator. California has helped D’Alessandro generate a new fanbase that lies beyond the five boroughs, as well as provide him with a slew of new content, the major being the comparison of East Coast and West Coast lifestyles.

“I love L.A.,” said D’Alessandro, who now calls Hollywood home. “I love it a lot actually. It’s different.

D’Alessandro was born with the ability to make people laugh.

“My family is really funny,” said D’Alessandro. “My friends were really funny. Being funny is just a part of my life. I can’t remember not wanting to do comedy.

“I went to grade school at St. Roch in Port Richmond. There were 28 kids in my class – all boys. Then, I went to St. Peter’s Boys High School (New Brighton, Staten Island).

“I did a community college here in Staten Island – the College of Staten Island. I majored in communication. I used to take film classes and do video editing. Then, when I was 12 credits from graduating I dropped out.

“I started going to open mics in 2014. I did my first stand-up show at the Looney Bin Comedy Club in Staten Island. I already had social media presence on YouTube.”

Having grown up with a camera in his hand, D’Alessandro created a YouTube channel where he developed his comedic skills from a young age. Through his sketches which feature original characters like “Maria Marie,” as well as impressions of celebrities like Drake and comedic covers of popular songs, his YouTube platform helped D’Allesandro build a loyal fanbase.

The millions of views on his videos laid the groundwork for D’Alessandro to gain over 120k followers on Instagram. Through social media, D’Alessandro is able to share original, timely and relatable content for the everyday American.

His recent video “Mask Off Remix (Walmart Diss)” has gone viral gaining over 16 million views across all his platforms. Due to the success of this video, Forbes featured D’Alessandro in an article about his comedy and ability to connect with fans online as well as on stage.

“At first, I wasn’t even sure I wanted to do standup,” said D’Alessandro. “But it was a good backdoor way of getting into acting. It’s tough if you’re just an actor. The pattern with comedians is that the door is open for you.

“I was writing material since I was 19 and then forgot about it for a while. A couple years went by. Then, I hopped a ferry and went to open mics in the city. I got pretty good early. The ideas I had from videos transferred to stand-up.

“Other guys helped me when I was starting. I did a Drake bit in my first show and I still do it. But I had to move on from open mic shows. In the open mic scene, you get nerdy pop culture guys who don’t get the up-to-date references.”

Once D’Alessandro moved to Southern California, he soon found out how different L.A. and New York were.

“It’s really hard to find good Italian restaurants in L.A,” said D’Alessandro. “And it’s impossible to find good Italian rolls.”

Los Angelenos cannot relate to a Sunday family dinner featuring pasta and gravy – clueless that “gravy” is Neapolitan ragu made with meat, tomato, and onion.

“My live show is a mixed bag,” said D’Alessandro. “A lot of it is about my upbringing – Italian-American East Coast references – coming to L.A. and not fitting in.”

D’Alessandro has sold out most of the shows he has headlined, including 1,300 seats at New Jersey’s iPlay America and the famous 1,800 seat St. George Theatre in Staten Island, where D’Allesandro will be recording his first stand up special. He has been featured on multiple podcasts and TV shows.

D’Alessandro has toured up and down the east coast, in addition to shows in Canada and Las Vegas. Most notably, he was featured in the 2016 drama/mystery movie “Nerve,” alongside Emma Roberts and Dave Franco — in part because the film’s directors added him to the script after seeing his viral videos.

“It’s been very tough with this pandemic,” said D’Alessandro. “I was going to film a TV special at the St. George Theatre in Staten Island but that show got postponed. The Philly date will be my first show in eight months and then I have shows next weekend in Red Bank, New Jersey.

“I’m really looking forward to getting back on stage – and to be coming to Philadelphia. I only played Philly once before and that was back in March. It was one of the last shows before COVID-19 shut everything down.

“I want to perform live and make people laugh. My whole personality is about being funny. It’s inherently who I am.”

Video link for Eric D’Alessandro — https://youtu.be/8WgSV_tv1aM.

Podcast link for Eric D’Alessandro — https://www.ericdalessandro.com/podcast.

Show times for Eric D’Alessandro are 7 and 9:15 p.m. each night. The opening act is Nicky Paris. Ticket prices are $32.

Video link for The Corey Holcomb 5150 Show  — https://youtu.be/9U9NdeYLgjI.

Corey Holcomb

The Corey Holcomb 5150 Show will take up residence at Punch Line Philly from November 12-15 with shows at 7:15 p.m. on November 12 and 15 and 7:15 and 9:30 p.m. on November 13 and 14. Tickets are $37 and $47.

Other upcoming shows at Punch Line Philly this month are Lovable Monsters & Friends on November 18, Chris Distefano from November 19-21, Pete Davidson and Ricky Velez on November 20 and 21, TuRae on November 25, and Liz Miele from November 27-29.

There are several local venues presenting live music shows throughout November.

Cedar Hollow Inn Restaurant and Bar (2455 Yellow Springs Road, Malvern, www.cedarhollowinn.com) will present Chris Lebresco on November 12, Sunshine Jones on November 14, Kendal Conrad on November 19, Nicki Sbaffoni on November 20 and Matt Sevier on November 21.

Chris Lebresco

Lobresco will also be performing at The Bordley House (1520 Tattersal Way, West Chester, www.bordleyhousegrille.com) on November 14.

Brickside Grille (540 Wellington Square, Exton, bricksidegrille.com) is hosting Paul & Dave on November 14, Bob Starner on November 15, Madeline Knight on November 21, Michael Kropp on November 22, Nicole Zell on November 28 and Steve Rhodes on November 29.

Tuned Up Brewing Co. (135 North Main Street, Spring City, www.tunedupbrew.com) will present Bill Ferreri on November 13, John Costello on November 20 and Mr. Mody on November 27.

Creekside Sports Bar & Grille (765 N Lewis Road, Royersford, http://www.creeksidesportsbar.com/) will host Wildflower on November 13, Brass Pocket on November 14, Shot of Southern on November 20,  Musician Impossible on November 21, Coast to Coast on November 25,  Uptown Band on November 27, and Buzzer Band on November 28.

On Tuesday, Boot & Saddle, a popular Philly rock club on South Broad Street, was forced to permanently close because of the pandemic shutdown and its economic percussions.

The club posted the following message:

After seven years and 1,500+ shows, we are now forced to close Boot & Saddle.

With Covid-19 cases back on the rise in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and around the country, the thought of having 200 people standing shoulder-to-shoulder in our small indoor bar early next year has faded. After eight months without a show, and without a clear reopening date in sight, we no longer have the luxury of paying the bills and expenses for two closed venues. And so, we have made the difficult decision to close Boot & Saddle for good. We hope that this decision will assure that our sister venue, Union Transfer, can survive well into 2021.

We sincerely appreciate all the support over the years. From everyone who saw a show, had a drink, or played on our stage. We are proud of having provided a stage on which local Philadelphia artists can develop and grow alongside national and international touring acts.

It has been a fun and enjoyable experience from start to finish: transforming an old country & western bar, which was shuttered for eighteen years, into a bustling, live music venue with its iconic neon sign lighting up Broad Street. Boot & Saddle was where the likes of Lizzo and Sam Smith made their Philadelphia debuts. It is also where legendary icons like Thurston Moore and Psychic TV performed for intimate crowds. Where gigantic local bands like The War on Drugs, Circa Survive, and The Menzingers played unforgettable, secret shows. We like to think that over the last few years we helped contribute to the best music scene in the United States.

RIP Boot & Saddle! 

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