Wednesday, January 26, 2011

You Don't Have To Be Italian To Enjoy The Comedy Of The Italian Chicks!

By: Anne M. Raso

The Italian Chicks is a two-hour casino style show that blends comedy, acting, dancing, music, and song. Describing their performance as "part meatball, part cannoli", The Italian Chicks are "Leader of the Pack" Maryann "Boom Boom" Maisano, Mary Dimino, Carolann Valentino, and Gina Scarda. All of the ladies are comedy veterans and actresses, and Dimino even has the distinction of having won the 2008 Gracie Allen Award for her work in the PBS film Fat: What No One Is Telling You. But probably the most interesting piece of trivia on The Italian Chicks is that the show's MC, Gina Scarda, decided to become a stand-up comedian after retiring from the New York Police Department (so it comes as no surprise that she describes the pitfalls of having to pose as a decoy prostitute in her former occupation)!

The Chicks' sold-out debut show at New York's Laugh Factory in January 2008 was standing-room only, and they have been entertaining audiences together up and down the East Coast ever since. We wanted to check out the phenomenon for ourselves, and we were lucky enough to catch the act at the Bicycle Club in Englewood Cliffs, NJ, last Friday night. It would be an understatement if we said the show was a ladies' laughfest because the guys in the audience were rolling with laughter under the tables in an even heartier manner. When comedienne Mary Dimino asked members of the audience to raise their hands if they were Italian, everyone but three people raised theirs...apparently, you don't have to be Italian to apreciate ballsy observational humor based on dating and daily life experiences. Yes, there was a little man-bashing and more than a little commentary on Italian traditions--we loved Mary Ann's commentary on Italian bowtie cookies and how the powdery residue was once confused for cocaine when she was pulled over by a cop on a NJ highway!
The fact that all the ladies comes from what can be called "normal" backgrounds peaked our curiosity...and some of The Italian Chicks will claim that their families seemed normal from the outside but were wacky if you had a closer look. When the show's producer and headliner, Maryann Maisano, gave up her six-figure position in banking to pursue her entertainment career, her family and friends thought she was crazy. "But I had a vision of an all-female, all-Italian comedy revue," says Maisano. "Men primarily dominate comedy, and traditional comedy is much tougher for women. I wanted to prove that a female-themed comedy show could be a success."
Born and raised in Fort Lee, New Jersey, Maisano is a comedian, singer/songwriter, musician, actress. "As a child, every Sunday in my home was like bad Italian dinner theatre", Maisano says. "One day, after dinner and before cannolis, I got up on a dining room chair and sang. That was it--at five years old, I knew exactly what I wanted to be when I grew up." She adds with a smile, "Many people ask where I get my material from. Oddly enough it's from my life, sad but true. You should meet my family and you will know why."
A winner of the New York City Songwriter Festival, Maisano recently completed recording her debut CD of original compositions. Actor Danny Aiello, himself a big fan of the Italian Chicks, performs one of Maisano's songs, "City of Light." on his upcoming CD. Maisano also recently completed writing her one woman show, "The Agita Monologues," and plans to preview the show soon. We will check out "The Agita Monologues" and report right back here on!

[Photos: Maryann Maisano]

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