Everyone has funny stories of their family from their childhood.
Some, however, have such outrageous, and hilarious stories that they need to be shared with an audience.
That’s exactly what Candice Guardino has done.
The actress has crafted Italian Bred: A One Woman Show which recounts her childhood in Staten Island, New York. The show has received critical acclaim, and has featured cameo appearances from comedians like Vic Dibitetto, and Mario Cantone and actors such as Lorraine Bracco, and Tony Danza.
Guardian brings the show to the Paramount Theater in Asbury Park on Sunday night. We caught up with her to talk about her childhood, famous friends, and more.
Your show is based on your experiences growing up in Staten Island — has comedy based on your upbringing been a staple in your career, or was this something you built up to?
My storytelling is based on real people and my true experiences. And it just so happens, my family is full of characters. Real life is funny. It’s also random, crazy, awkward, sad, loving, embarrassing etc. I touch on all these emotions in my shows because I write what I know and whats real.
For those who might be unfamiliar — how does a one-woman show differ from stand-up?
First off, I will say that stand-up is such a skill, one that not all people can do easily. I did a little stand up to help develop my characters in the beginning. My show is alot like stand-up that takes you on a journey for a full theatre experience. There’s fun music, I sing, I impersonate my entire family, and I virtually interact with hilarious cameos. My goal is to have the audience relate to these characters as if it was their own life. The audience comes on an emotional roller coaster with me and I hope they leave the theatre changed somehow.
Who were your comedic inspirations growing up — both from your family, and in the world of comedy?
My family is pretty funny. All I have to do is sit in my mother’s kitchen on a Sunday and I have new material for the characters. In the world of comedy, I would say Whoopi Goldberg, Tina Fey, Lily Tomlin, and Melissa McCarthy. These women are trail blazers and fierce creators. I only hope one day to meet them or work with them, but I’m pretty sure I’ll faint or have the shits.
When crafting this show did you find any obstacles in regards to the content of the show being relatable to an audience that might not be Italian, or is something you don’t even take into consideration?
It was really important for me to write a show that was relatable for any audience. It just so happens that I’m Italian but family is family and funny is funny. When I perform the show I always get people that come up to me afterwards and say “I’m Russian and my mom is just like yours!” or “Your family is so loud, like mine…I’m Cuban” and so on. I love these reactions because that was my goal in creating this family comedy. Ultimately, I’d like Italian Bred to be on every television.
You do have had some cameos in the show with the likes of Vic Dibitteto and Steve Schirripa of the Sopranos stopping by — who can we expect to see in this show, or is that a surprise?
Yes, there’s an unique feature that i designed into the show called Virtual Cameos. Its a giant screen behind me in which surprise guests, who were pre recorded, pop up as different characters in the story. I was blessed enough to have talented guys like Vic, Steve, Mario Cantone (Sex and the City) and Leslie Jordan (Will and Grace) as a apart of it. As for the audience, you never know who could stop by. Lorraine Bracco, Tony Danza, Big Ang, Carsen Kressley (Queer Eye for the Straight Guy) and many more have all see Italian Bred in the past.
Have your family members seen this show, and if so how did they react to it? And were you concerned about how they might react, since the show is based on your upbringing?
Oh, they totally have and most people would think a family would get upset about having someone impersonate them. My family gives me notes. My dad will come back stage after and say “Next time deliver my line this way!” (laughs).
After your Asbury Park show — where will the Italian Bred show head to next?
Im so excited to be at Asbury Park – it’s a dream. Next stop is Morristown, NJ. After that we will be announcing more venues or as my mom tells people “Candice is going to “the Broadway” or “the movies” next.” Gotta love them.
Italian Bred starring Candice Guardino stops in Asbury OPark on Sunday July 30 at the Paramount Theater. Click here for tickets.