Dom projects a singular charisma that firmly engages audiences from the opening moment and doesn’t let go until the end of the performance, and beyond.
Trying to analyse what makes a comedian special is typically a fool’s errand, but we’ll give it a go: With Dom, it seems to be a blend of regular-guy presence and relaxed, effortless delivery-and, of course, what he’s delivering is top-notch material, laced with an array of colourful characters and voices. Beyond beautifully-crafted jokes and routines, Dom’s also giving the audience one-man sketches and bursts of improv.
The impact, whether you’ve seen him once or dozens of times, is that you feel like Dom is kind of a friend, someone you’d like to have a beer with-and, not uncommonly, that you’ve become part of the de facto Dom Irrera family. And this is one happy, fun family you look forward to seeing often.
Indeed, people come out to see Dom whenever he’s in town, sometimes amounting to countless times over several years, partly for all these reasons, partly because he always returns armed with heaping hunks of new material. Likewise, clubs, festival and other events are eager to bring Dom back over and over-for example, he’s made more appearances at the prestigious Just For Laughs Festival than any other American comic. Ditto the Cat Laughs Festival in Kilkenny, Ireland.
Whether we’re talking about audiences, comedy club bookers or festival producers, everyone looks at Dom as family: they want him around, and they want to be around him. The family metaphor is apt-family is pivotal to the path that first led Dom to the comedy stage, and remains a core topic of any performance he’s likely to deliver on that stage.
Indeed, Dom Irrera’s stand-up material was honed in a multi-generational Italian household in South Philadelphia with his mother, sister, grandmother, uncles and cousins all under one very big roof. A great-grandmother even lived across the street. Together, there were three floors and four generations of family.
His first big break was his performance on Rodney Dangerfield’s “Nothing Goes Right” comedy specials for HBO. In 1989 Irrera’s own HBO “One Night Stand” earned him his first CableACE award for Best Stand-Up Comedy Special.
In ’95 he won a second CableACE for the Showtime stand-up series he hosted, “Full Frontal Comedy.” That same year he received a second CableACE nomination in the writing category for his work on Comedy Central’s animated series, “Dr. Katz: Professional Therapist.” He also starred in a solo stand-up special for HBO in ’92, titled “Command Performance.”
He has performed on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” “The Late Show with David Letterman,””Late Night with Conan O’Brien,” “The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson,” “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” “The View,” and made several appearances on “Oprah.”
An avid sports fan, Dom hosted four seasons of Comedy Central’s irreverent football show, “Offsides”, where he conducted hilarious on-the-field interviews with football greats. He also hosts the NFL Networks show “Hang Time” and stars as the judge on Direct TV’s Supreme Court of Comedy. He also hosted Comedy Central’s “Behind the Scenes at the American Comedy Awards: specials in ’98 and ’99.
Irrera was a series regular on the ’98 Fox comedy “Damon,” starring Damon Wayans and his guest-star credits include “Seinfeld” (he played an annoying prop comic needling Jerry in the memorable episode), “Becker,” “Everybody Loves Raymond” and “King of Queens.”
In addition, Dom voiced the character Ernie, the demolitions expert, on Nickelodeon’s “Hey Arnold.” Other notable animation work includes multiple seasons voicing Duke The Dog in “Barnyard.”
His film work includes a featured role in Robert Townsend’s “Hollywood Shuffle,” a cameo in the Coen Bros. Film, “The Big Lebowski,” “The Fourth Tenor,” starring old pal Rodney Dangerfield, and he played himself in the Rodney Dangerfield / Dom De Luise film, “The Godson.”
When it comes to festivals, Dom has pretty much played ’em all: Earlier, we touched on his becoming a fondly-regarded fixture at both Just For Laughs, in Montreal, and Cat Laughs, in Ireland. He also has appeared at the Melbourne Comedy Festival in Australia, and at Edinburgh Festival’s Assembly Hall in Scotland. It was there that he received the “Herald Award” for artistic excellence.
In 2010 Dom performed in the prestigious one person show slot in Montreal with his sold out run of “Plugged, Unplugged and Plugged again.”