After four decades in show business, you know you've reached your peak when you get a show at a pool club in February in Nutley, New Jersey.
Don't kill the messenger, that's what our old friend Uncle Floyd Vivino said Friday night at the pool club in Nutley.
Billed as Ed Zazzali's Martini Party - Dinner and the Comedic Talent of Uncle Floyd, well, how could it miss? You got a menu of 20 martinis. You were fine if you didn't order the ever popular Pomegranate Martini. After 10 minutes the bartender finally gave up looking for the pomegranate juice.
Uncle Floyd gets tagged by fan
We had a terrific table for two right near the bar. Floyd's stage was at the other end of the floor. For the lines that didn't come through the distant speakers, several helpful guys at the bar offered their own punch lines and interpretations of the material. This was a lot of fun during the sing-along of the Robert Hall commercials.
For dinner, you could have the chicken, the steak or the fish. One of us had the chicken, which wasn't so bad. Another of us had the steak, not an especially appetizing reason to come back to the Diamond Spring Italian Restaurant & Bar.
For the guys at the bar, in case Floyd got boring, the two bartenders (neither of which, it seemed, ever located the Pomagranate juice) left the four TV sets tuned into ESPN. As for the regular fans, there was the flat screen TV midway in the hall which showed what looked like the PBS fly-over of Italy.
Nearly 30 years ago (Feb.10, 1977) I wrote my first article about Uncle Floyd. Since then, we've seen him at his Channel 68 TV studio (and later the NJN studio). Had lunch with the mayor of Bloomfield, been to the Hi-Ho Club, the county theatre in Union, the stereo store in Bloomfield and the William Carlos Williams Center (three or four times!) where we saw him alone and with John Dull and friends, and, of course when he opened his nightclub at the Holiday Inn in Wayne amidst the never-ending construction on Route 46.
There was a time when I saw him come into his TV studio on Wednesdays when they filmed the show in the OBC studio in Nutley. I was working at the newspaper and he always said, "Hello, Anthony," when he saw me. (That was my name... He said he introduced Uncle Tonoose to Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec: "Tonoose-Toulouse, Toulouse-Tonoose!")
On Friday, Floyd walked in a few minutes after 8 and didn't stop singing, playing the piano or making us laugh for two hours.
Except for the dialectic Italian worked into his act, (which only his closest paisans from Paterson understand) Floyd almost never resorts to the gutter language so often used by younger comics. It's a nice clean show full of fun and laughter.
For that, you excuse the tables and the folding chairs and the loud guys at the bar, and the food being what it was - heck it was always hot even though they had to carry it across the walk in the rain on a cold night.
Floyd said the articles I wrote a long time ago meant a lot back then. He said he still has them. But, Floyd didn't seem to believe in the Internet, or blogging. How could he, he's always on the road at the next show, in New York, western Pennsylvania and Ohio, where his favorite audiences are. (Almost makes you wonder how he had six kids. Ha-ha. He's not ALWAYS on the road, now, is he?)
He says he rarely appears in-state. That, of course, is New Jersey's loss. At least Floyd is in the NJ Monthly Hall of Fame. And all the grown ups who watched his TV shows through the years, well, they would love to spend an evening with Floyd. Even if you have to travel to a pool club in Nutley in February. It's worth the trip.
Uncle Floyd guards the lone restroom from 70 adoring fans and the super-fans at the bar
Copyright © 2007 by Anthony Buccino, all rights reserved. Content may not be used for commercial purposes without written permission.