The Bocchetti Files features comedian Mike Bocchetti talking one-on-one with his friends and fellow comedians about whatever crosses his mind. He’s spoken with Colin Quinn, Dave Hill, Matt Walsh and others. This week, Mike talks with writer and stand up comedian, Kevin Bartini. In addition to Kevin’s amazing stand up career, he’s also one of the best television audience warm up comedians in the business. He’s done warm up for shows like Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, The Colbert Show, and now the Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore.
Mike Bocchetti: How much different is it to do warm up comedy for TV than perform at a club?
Kevin Bartini: Audience warm ups, at least the way I do it is very different then traditional stand-up comedy that I do at a club. As a warm up comic I am one part cheer leader and one part improv comic. I don’t do straight stand-up and I never have anything comedically prepared. In my stand-up I may work on a single bit for months, honing it and editing it until I have gotten it just right. In warm up I am completely present in the moment and I am completely focused on making sure that I have built an energetic base of people who are happy, laughing and excited.
Mike Bocchetti: How long have you been a warm up comic for TV and how did you get in?
Kevin Bartini: My first warm up job was at Who Wants To Be a Millionaire and that was about six years ago. Without knowing it I had been honing the skills to be a good warm up comic for a few years as a host of countless stand-up shows here in NYC. I had begun working as a ghost writer for some comedians. I punched up guys sets for Live at Gotham, write jokes for them when they would go on talk shows. One of the comics who hired me to write for him was Paul Mercurio. He had been working at Millionaire and recommended me to come in as his back up. After Millionaire I picked up some work here and there until one day The Daily Show called and the rest is history.
Mike Bocchetti: How has it changed your stand up when you do other venues like clubs theaters etc?
Kevin Bartini: I’m not entirely sure that It has changed my stand-up. I imagine that it has helped boost my confidence but really since what I do as a warm up is so different from what I do as a stand-up I don’t know that it ha rally had an effect. One thing is that it has given me the financial freedom to turn down a lot of the lousy road gigs that I used to have to take. So that’s nice.
Mike Bocchetti: How long of a day is it doing warm up for a big show?
Kevin Bartini: My call time at The Nightly Show is 5:00. I usually go on some time between 6:30 and 7:00. Once I hand the mic over to Larry my work is done. I don’t have to do commercial breaks and I am free to leave. Any day that I have the time I like to stay to watch the show. There is so much to learn and I feel that I am part of a team so I like to stick around and cheer my teammates on.
Mike Bocchetti: I know you did warm up for Jon Stewart and the Colbert Show have you ever been on either show?
Kevin Bartini: Unfortunately no. Warm Up has not led to any on camera work, yet. Part of that is my own fault. I never ask. My self esteem is so low that I am afraid that if I even ask about getting on I’ll annoy the wrong people and the warm up work will dry up. My wife, however has been on The Daily Show. I brought her to the Daily Show holiday party. I should say that she is beautiful and charming. She made a good impression on the right people and the producers started calling her any time that they needed an actress for a bit who looked good in her underwear. She did a scene that was a parody of the Eyes Wide Shut orgy scene and if not for a scheduling conflict would have played a french prostitute on another episode.
Mike Bocchetti: How clean do you have to work as s comic warming up TV. Is it g rated?
Kevin Bartini: When it comes to content each show is different. Who Wants To Be A Millionaire is a family show so I had to keep it clean. There is no restrictions on any of Jon Stewart’s shows. The Daily Show, Colbert Report and The Nightly Show are all great when it comes to that. I can curse all I want. They have never asked me to tone anything down or to avoid any topics.
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