Today, however, one can find a daring breed of performers who regularly criss-cross back and forth between guffaws and applause. "I can go from stand-up to Shakespeare, but I can't get a sitcom...makes no sense to me," says Mario Cantone, who has alternated between headlining gigs at Carolines Comedy Club and playing roles in the New York Shakespeare Festival's The Tempest on Broadway and The Taming Of The Shrew in Central Park. Cantone, who made his Broadway debut in Love! Valour! Compassion! notes, "I've been doing stand up for 15 years, but it's very different because you can just get up there and go. If you forget what you're going to say, you can just make it up. You can't do that in theater...although I have, even in Shakespeare. I'll forget my lines and just say something like 'Oh look, it's Lord Burlingame,' and then walk off. " Fresh from an appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman (with sub-host Nathan Lane), Cantone will soon be center stage at Carolines doing his comedy, April 6th through 9th.
For Rick Crom, who goes on for two or three performances a week as an understudy/swing covering five roles in Broadway's Footloose, the fusion between the roles of comic and actor have emerged over 20 years. "I started doing stand up comedy at 16, and did my first theatrical performance at 17," says Crom, who also honed his skill doing improvisation as part of Chicago City Limits. "Stand-up lets you be both writer and director, which is a powerful feeling, since you're in total control. The best thing is that it's you, you, you. Of course if you're not doing well and there's a need to blame someone, it's also just you, you, you." Crom is a actually a triple threat: He's also a MAC Award-winning musician/musical comedy writer whose show Rick Crom's Our Life & Times is nominated for a MAC 2000 award.