New Times If you could die and come back as 1. Larry David, 2. any of the Monty Python guys, or 3.Tina Fey, who would it be?
Mark Pitta This is the strangest question I’ve ever heard. I wouldn’t come back as any of them but out of those choices I admire the Pythons. They were a big influence as well. When working on Mornings on 2 I got to interview Eric Idle twice and John Cleese three times. I asked John what American comedian would make a good Python and he said, Steve Martin because he’s also a good writer.
New Times The story about your mom and Scarface is laugh-out-loud hilarious. Is she an influence on your comedy?
Pitta My mother is the reason I do comedy. She supported my decision to pursue the profession and let me live at home a little longer than I should have. I didn’t have to get a day job and pay rent which freed me up to go to San Francisco at night and try my jokes out at clubs.
New Times Is that where the Al Pacino impression came from?
Pitta I bought it from Pacino for $1,100.
New Times Tell us what the heck will be happening at the Clark Center tonight.
Pitta I’ll be the host of the show and my job is to warm up the crowd without being too funny but just funny enough. You don’t want to pull out your big guns and make it difficult for the other comedians to follow you. They are, after all, competing. I also will respect subject matter in that I won’t do jokes about certain topics if those topics are a big part of the contestant acts. For instance, I won’t do a great Sarah Palin bit if that’s what the next comedian is closing his show with. I will keep the show moving and balanced and make it a big party for the audience.
New Times Describe your type of comedy: Dry, crazy, or what’s your show like? Who can you be compared to? Or do you hate me for asking those questions?
Pitta My show is silly fun. I never liked a comedian who said, “my show makes you laugh but it makes you think.” I just want people to laugh. A standing ovation would be nice, too.
New Times You host and emcee a lot of programs. Is hosting synonymous with doing stand up?
Pitta I host benefits and shows that need a funny person to keep things lively, yes, but it’s not an ideal situation. Knowing how to tell a joke, or better yet, slip a joke in here and there when you need it is an art form and a lot of people can’t do it. A lot of funny comics can’t host either. All they know is how to do their set and that’s it. When I’m on stage, I’m the same person I am off stage, so it’s second nature to me to be a host. When I’m on stage it’s my party and you’re all invited to the party.
New Times You look like a golfer or a business man ; how much do your looks affect your comedy?
Pitta Now you have insulted me! I hate golf. Your looks affect your persona for sure. I dress casual so when I have to wear a tux, I think I’m less funny.
- IMAGE COURTESY OF MARK PITTA
- BEST OF - TONIGHT! :
The Best Of San Francisco Stand Up Comedy Competition, a springboard for many famous and talented comedians, takes place on Oct. 2 at 7:30 p.m. at the Clark Center in Arroyo Grande. Mark Pitta—who is a past comedy competition finalist, a Tonight Show veteran, and the best Al Pacino impressionist in the business—will be hosting. “I was watching the movie Scarface at home when my mom came to visit and this was her reaction to the ending of that movie: Pacino is blowing guys away with a machine gun, bodies are going down, he gets shot from behind and falls into an indoor swimming pool, splashing blood as the camera pulls back to reveal the carnage and my mom says ‘That’s a lovely house,’” Mark Pitta joked. Info: www.sanfranciscocomedycompetition.com. Info: www.clarkcenter.org or 489-9444.
Christy Heron would definitely come back as Larry David. Curb your enthusiasm at firstname.lastname@example.org.