Entertainment » Vol. 8

Did You Hear the One About Jerry Caruso?

By Matt Shaw

jerry-caruso

“Comedy is fickle,” says local comedian Jerry Caruso. “You work at one place for a while, and then all of a sudden you’re not working there anymore. I worked for [a Boston comedy club] for a year and a half. One night I had a bad show, and I came offstage and told the guy that ran the comedy shows, ‘Hey, look, I’m sorry, I really stunk out there tonight. That’s not like me. It won’t happen again.’ The guy said, ‘You know what? For your honesty, I’ll give you a call in two weeks to book another gig.’ That call took six months. I left him voicemails doing the voice of Marlon Brando in The Godfather. He thought I was being pushy, but I was just goofing off. He swore he’d never book me again, and he never did.”

Unfortunately, says Caruso, that’s comedy. He certainly seems to take it ~ indeed, to take life ~ in stride: “I do tech support for a credit union as a day job,” he says. “Sense of humor is priceless in that line of work. ‘Did we lose that data?’ ‘Yeah, you did, but I’ve got a good one for ya.’”

Caruso, at a “very young 53” and now a 15 year veteran of the local comedy scene, has fond memories from his fledgling years. “In 1995, me and a guy named Tommy Dunham had this gig in Presque Isle, Maine,” Caruso recalls, “which is about eight light-years away. And we were laughing and joking around the whole ride up. When we finally get up there, it was the kind of audience where you said, ‘Hello,’ and they started laughing. We killed. It was a great, great night.”

In 1994, Caruso and friend Toney Markus founded a charity called Comics for a Cure (not to be confused with a Boston-based charity with the same name) and has an extensive list of charity gigs under his belt. His client list includes the American Cancer Society, Easter Seals, the Jimmy Fund, the American Red Cross, and the Make-A-Wish Foundation. He also runs seminars on humor in the workplace and laughter as medicine.

As for the future, Caruso plans on keeping it local. “I used to go to New York,” he says, “and I could always go back, but it’s a pain in the ass. I’d love to target the bigger audience, don’t get me wrong, but I’d rather be home.” He’s planning on expanding his role in comedy shows, too. “There are three kinds of comedians,” he says. “The newer guys are openers, and they only get 10 minutes per set. I’m a middle man now, and I get like 20 or 25 minutes. And then there are the closers, the guys who go on last to finish the show. I don’t think I’m a closer, but I’d love to reach that level.”

As fickle as the business of comedy is, Caruso is prepared for the future. “Whatever God throws at me,” he says, “I’m gonna do it.”

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