He gives Jersey a “bad boy of comedy” name; she is a true Jersey girl that will have you in stitches. Comedians Mike Marino and Sunda Croonquist are on a double-ticket, touring New Jersey this month and you don’t want to miss it (#theshoretour).
Mike Marino – you’ve probably seen him in commercials, maybe even on stage.
He originated the move of putting out the invisible cigarette under his foot during performances, while exaggerating the humorous persona of an Italian bad boy from Jersey. By this October or November, you will see him in a movie called “Critic-sized” which is something very different for Marino who is associated with lots of laughs.
“[Critic-sized] is a spin on the word – and the movie is a thriller – suspenseful, scary – gonna make you jump out of your chair making you wonder what the hell’s coming. I’m a co-star of this movie. I’m a detective in search of a person who’s committing the murders. So you won’t find anything funny. It’s a great character. It’s kind of like the movie “Seven”. It’s also one of those movies where you just think you’ve got ‘em, and you’ll find out the answer – you’ll find out you’re wrong, and so are the cops,” Marino sneak peeks.
Marino is also in development for his own TV series that will be bringing comedy television back to the day of “All in the Family” or “The Odd Couple”. (I loved those classics!) He says it’s a family-based comedy based on his stand-up routine of being an Italian, blue-collar construction worker from New Jersey.
“It’s gonna blow wide open. It’s going to make people in New Jersey look a lot better than ‘The Jersey Shore’ and ‘The Real Housewives of New Jersey’. This is going to take place in a small town in New Jersey – regular people with regular lives, making enough money, and have a great family while having the funniest characters you’ve seen on television,” he shares.
“I’m really a Jersey boy at heart,” says the Los Angeles based comedian. “LA is a mix from all over the world. There are a lot of people from everywhere. I stand out because I have a great personality,” he shares with a smile and natural humor, when I ask him if he feels he stands out because he’s from New Jersey.
For all of the Jersey-based humor and poking fun he does at New Jersey stereotypes, Marino has a real respect for Jerseyites.
“People who were born and raised in New Jersey live great lives, and they appreciate honesty, family, and hardworking people – and that’s where all my friends and family are. (Marino grew up in New Jersey.) And quite honestly, pound for pound, whether it’s the best actors or musicians, they come from New Jersey,” he continues proud of his roots. (And the best comedians come from New Jersey, too, because sharing this summer ticket is Sunda Croonquist, who was recently on ‘The View’ making people laugh all over the U.S.)
Sunda Croonquist, known as being the half black, half Swedish, Jewish, female comedian from Paterson, shares her Jersey pride.
“I’ll always be a Jersey Girl. Even though I’ve been in Beverly Hills, it’s never going to change. Unlike many people who do come from NJ or back East, I don’t disassociate myself from where I came from, and I’m from Paterson so we all know what that is,” says Croonquist.
Croonquist’s humor just comes to her.
“If something’s funny, I just try to remember it. Sometimes that’s difficult having two kids and being a wife. That’s a whole other life. You’re living two lives. It just comes to me.”
She grew up in a world of pageantry and show biz, and broke into comedy when Jackie Mason said very matter-of-factly she should go on stage and make people laugh.
“My husband said, ‘If Jackie Mason says you should go on stage, you should!’” shares Croonquist…and Jackie was right!
“I’m a woman of color; and as a woman in comedy, it’s very hard. You get a lot of heat, and I give credit to Jamie Masada at The Laugh Factory for having me. I can hold my own. When I first started, I couldn’t get a spot at comedy clubs because they already had a woman on the show, or they already had a black person, etc. Now I can book them out!”
Now Croonquist sure books them out! You will catch her back-to-back with Mike Marino at:
Facebook Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/661722150523805/
520 Arnold Ave. Point Pleasant, NJ 08742
and at the
Asbury Park Comedy Fest – The BIG Show on 8/24 at the Paramount Theatre
(You can get tickets via Ticketmaster or The Stone Pony Box Office. Call Suz Shea for more information: 1.732.948.2491 http://www.asburyparkcomedyfest.com
or email firstname.lastname@example.org) Mike Marino is the host!)
What makes Croonquist’s humor hit home is that it’s so innate to her.
“It just comes to me naturally. I don’t sit down and write jokes unless I have a particular project I’m working on for someone, like a person or blog. One of the strange things I was hired to do was roast a mom at a birthday party, and she passed away! I was ready to do it, and the son wanted me to do the show anyway. It was healing. It was paying respect, but making them laugh. Humor is healing,” shares Croonquist.
Exemplifying how healing humor is, her greatest satisfaction from comedy comes from performing for those stricken by cancer.
“To get even a minute off in their minds from thinking about their condition is gold,” shares a more serious Croonquist about how humor has a heart, too.
Croonquist is the chairperson of "Laugh Off!", an event that supports Gilda's Club of northern New Jersey, a cancer support group established by the late Gilda Radner of Saturday Night Live.
“One of the greatest things [I experienced while performing] was when a soldier presented a flag to Mike Marino on stage, and the soldier was emotional. You don’t expect that from a tough guy in the military. It shows you how the stage can make you get a little unnerved. We always think of them as what they are, but when he had to go on stage, oh my God, that was a memorable moment,” shares Croonquist about the flip side of comedy really bringing out the best in people and striking that personal chord.
Marino has had his touching moments, too.
“I got a fan letter from Alabama: ‘You make us people in Alabama make us people want to be people in NJ. Are you the face of the state?’" She loved the accent. "'The way you talk, sound, - my husband imitates you – we have friends that walk around pretending to put out an invisible cigarette.' - a joke I do… my father used to do that to make a point. I started doing that, so I’ve got people imitating it.”
“People write the most amazing shit to me. What keeps you in this business? The fans! The fans write how I touched their soul!” shares a softer side of Marino.
Marino operates in a similar fashion as Croonquist does when his inspiration comes from within and just in everyday life, too, on the lighter side.
“I actually write new material all the time, and I inspire myself to write. Life itself is inspiring to write because everything I see is funny. I find everything that happens to me, or everything I see in this world to be funny because if you take something as genuine as going into a supermarket and having to check out your own items, there’s something funny right there. What if I needed a price check? Who would I call? And I just think that’s funny. If I check myself into an airport and, I have to check into a flight, and check my own baggage, and check into my own seat, eventually I’m just gonna drive!” jokes Marino. (And yes, I was cracking up as I interviewed him.)
Don’t forget kids crack-up, too. Croonquist loves her involvement with the Laugh Factory for just that reason. She uses her natural abilities for good – the “little” kind of good, when she can.
“I think in this day of technology, these kids are so wound up in their iPads, and iPods. I think comedy is great for children. It helps them learn to listen. I help produce a comedy show at the Laugh Factory [for kids]. [When I was a kid,] I was labeled as a trouble maker, but I was laughing. When did laughing become a crime? They’re getting comedy in all the wrong places. They’re on Vine …. They can be exposed to sexually explicit material. I think that there should be comedy for children –Max Amini, Eric Schwartz, support that too. These [kids] are our consumers now – that’s what people don’t realize - we forget about the kids.
So whether you are a kid at heart, or ready for some adult humor, don’t miss this Jersey boy and this Jersey girl this month on tour at the Jersey Shore!
Get the latest on Sunda Croonquist at: