Downtown Utica Weekend
Updated: Nov 21, 2021
This past weekend I had some very much needed time away. I didn't go to the Catskills or Vermont or a spa.
I went to Utica.
Right about now, you might be asking yourself, "What the hell was in Utica?!" The answer to that is top notch entertainment, delicious food, and incredible people.
Here's the backstory:
In June of 2020, during the height of the COVID pandemic crap, I came across a video on YouTube called "When a Neighbor Lets Their Dog Crap on an Italian's Property". It's an hilarious clip of an off-the-boat Italian character, Uncle Louie, completely losing his mind while watching a "sonnomabetcha'" neighbor let their dog crap in his driveway. If you're Italian and reading this, then you understand how much time and effort is put into maintaining one's property. This includes landscaping, good cement work, and washing the driveway. I, myself, am an avid driveway washer, so when I saw this video I instantly felt a connection with the creator and decided to watch some of the other videos on the channel. What I discovered were other characters and videos that accurately and hilariously represented just about every matriarch, patriarch, and scenario you have inevitably experienced if you grew up in an Italian family. So, who are the people making these videos? They are Lou Greco & Carlo Russo, and together they make up the comedy act called "The Uncle Louie Variety Show".
Here we are, a year and a half later and I'm blessed to say I've been able to get to know them and have seen them perform live several times. They are humble, gracious, talented, hard-working and genuinely good people. Learning about how they started out and witnessing their dedication and passion for their career is, in part, what inspired me to pursue my comedic writing again. I hope they both know that they will always have a role in whatever I can manage to create and produce - from main characters to supporting, albeit important, roles, like tables and chairs.
Now, how does this relate to my weekend in Utica?
A few months ago, I was told about a big show and dinner that would be happening at the Stanley Theatre in Utica on November 6th. Lou and Carlo were set to perform with two other great comedians, Mike Marino and Freddy Rubino, and it was a show that should not be missed. It didn't take much convincing because I've met some wonderful human beings through TULVS and I would be able to spend time with a few of them during this trip.
November 6th has passed and I can report that I haven't had that much fun in a very, very, very long time. I was greeted with hugs at the entrance of the hotel by friends I was seeing in person for the first time as well as friends I haven't seen in months. Later on, we had a delicious dinner at Joey's 307. People...let me just say...the food there is so good. You don't even understand. I'm planning on another trip up there just so I can go to Joey's and order everything off the menu.
After dinner, we were entertained at a killer comedy show at the Stanley that had me laughing until my face and sides hurt. Afterwards, we ventured over to a little bar not too far from the hotel and spent the rest of the evening having drinks, talking, and enjoying each other's company.
I'd be lying if I said I didn't first pass out in my room and wake up confused with sheet creases across my face. What can I say? I don't go out much these days.
The next morning, we joked about how my next blog post should be called, "Shit Bar, Shit Music", but that would overshadow what I thought I was the most important part. I mean, sure, there was shitty music being played. I think I even said at one point, "What the hell is this music they're playing?", but I managed to tune it out after a while. Then there was the lady who kept walking into my friend Joanne and hitting her in the ass, but Joanne's disgusted and annoyed facial expressions were absolutely hilarious. And yes, my chair rocked so much that I felt like smashing it to pieces, but it was okay because I was sitting in that broken chair next to an absolutely amazing person.
My point is this: It doesn't matter if it's a shit bar with shit music, or a beautiful theatre with music and comedy. The people you're with are what matters. So, here's a virtual toast to those beautiful, special people who I spent my time with this weekend. You know who you are and I love you all.