A lifetime of laughter

Comedian John Poveromo will perform at Comedy Works in Bristol

By Samantha Bambino

The Times

Not many people can say they’ve reminisced with Jimmy Fallon about a memory from 10 years ago. But for John Poveromo, this is just one of many unforgettable highlights in the life of a rising comedian. On Oct. 13 and 14, the Brooklyn-born, Jersey-raised stand-up will bring his unique style of unpredictable yet relatable humor to Bucks County with two headlining shows at the Comedy Works in Bristol.

On stage: Stand up John Poveromo will bring his unique style of unpredictable yet relatable humor to Bucks County during two shows on Oct. 13 and 14 at the Comedy Works in Bristol. PHOTO: Pete Carter

Now 32, a love for comedy and making other people laugh was ingrained in Poveromo from the age of 6. During a recent visit to his parents’ house, he came across an old elementary school yearbook. In one section, he and his classmates were asked to state what they wanted to be when they grew up. Not surprisingly, his answer was a comedian and cartoonist, two professions he gets to happily live out as an adult.

When Poveromo’s interests first began to take shape, one comedic legend influenced him more than anyone else.

“There was no one funnier than Robin Williams,” he said.

As a kid, Poveromo idolized Williams, mimicking the voices of his characters, like the Genie in Aladdin. Thanks to him, Poveromo was introduced to the larger world of comedy and big names such as Jerry Seinfeld and Ellen DeGeneres who got their start in entertainment by doing stand-up.

“He was my gateway drug into other comedians,” he said of Williams.

Until this point, Poveromo surprisingly had no idea what stand-up comedy was. He knew he enjoyed making people laugh, but didn’t realize he could make a living doing it in front of an audience. There was also an instant connection he felt with these comedians.

“They don’t like authority either,” he remembered thinking. “As a teen worrying about life, it was comforting to listen to adults joking about things everyone takes so seriously.”

During the summer after his first year in college, Poveromo tried his hand at stand-up and never looked back. He had been pursuing an English degree, but wasn’t at all enthused about spending three more years in the classroom.

“I thought, by the time I’m 30, I’ll either have a career or I won’t,” he said.

Despite his outgoing personality, stand-up required more than the ability to make people laugh. He had to get total strangers laughing in a limited amount of time. In the beginning, Poveromo suffered from massive headaches due to a mixture of excitement and nerves. But he persevered and soon found himself performing professional shows, not just open mics.

“It was a compliment, but I had no idea what I was doing,” he said.

Still, he learned as he went, quickly getting an idea of what material was landing with audiences and what wasn’t. As Poveromo gained both comedy and life experience, he also developed a better sense of self. This is evident in his stand-up routine as he touches on everything from dating and life to politics.

It also didn’t hurt that Poveromo had the opportunity to learn from the best. At only 23 years old, he opened for Jimmy Fallon before the future host had taken over The Tonight Show. The two performed five shows together, and Poveromo was on cloud nine when forced to go back to his day job afterward at the local library.

“It’s those little moments that keep you going,” he said.

Though he cringed every time someone asked him to fetch a book, that brief exposure to the industry made the dream of a comedy career that much stronger.

“It was great motivation to get out of where I was,” he said.

Last month, things came full circle when Poveromo attended a filming of the The Tonight Show. During a Q&A session, Fallon kept glancing over at him. When he spoke up and told Fallon they performed together years ago, there was instant recognition and the rest of the session was spent reflecting on the early days of their careers.

“It was awesome to have that back and forth,” he said.

In the years following those memorable shows with Fallon, Poveromo has continued to hone his comedy craft, as well as a few other skills. He’s lent his writing talents to various shows, including ESPN’s Sports Nation, Joy Behar’s Say Anything on HLN, CNN’s Newsroom, Red Eye with Greg Gutfeld and VH1’s Best Of Series.

In addition, Poveromo is living out his second childhood dream as a cartoonist. A few years ago, he spent his free time sketching cartoons while traveling between shows. What started as a basic hobby turned into a larger opportunity after someone suggested he put his work in an art gallery.

“It was intimidating because there are ‘real’ artists there,” he laughed.

But his cartoons, which range from political humor to general life situations, were a hit. When asked if he had any more, which he certainly did, Poveromo decided to combine all his work into the book Drawings from a Nobody, which will be available in November.

As for his upcoming Bristol shows, audiences can expect to not only laugh (obviously) but feel an instant relatability with Poveromo.

“It’s like a conversation with someone they’ve known for awhile,” he said of his stand-up. ••

Tickets can be purchased online at comedyworksbristol.com or in person the day of the shows on Oct. 13 and 14. The Comedy Works is located at 1320 Newport Road in Bristol. The show begins promptly at 9:30 p.m. For more information on Poveromo, visit johnpoveromo.net.

Samantha Bambino can be reached at sbambino@newspapermediagroup.com