An interview with Alan DeValerio by Joel Markowitz
People always say that Lucille Ball was the greatest comedienne on TV, but I always believed that Gracie Allen was. Gracie was quick-witted and punny and she had that twinkle in her eyes that made her endearing. When something silly came out of her mouth, you laughed with her and not at her. And few would disagree with me that George Burns was the greatest “Straight Man” that ever lived.
I was eager to visit Alan DeValerio’s, An Evening With George Burn, to see if any of the magic I saw on television when I was a kid could be recaptured on The Warehouse Next Door Stage. Without giving away the jokes and the routines, I will say that Alan captures a lot of George Burn’s style and humor. Most fun of all is that you get to hear some of Gracie’s funniest moments, and that alone, is worth the price of admission.
I spoke with Alan about why he chose to play George Burns on the stage:
Alan: When I first decided to do this, around 6 or 7 years ago, I chose George Burns because I was a big fan. He was one of the impressions that I could do, and I knew that there would be a lot of material to work with. He was around forever! The story of George Burns is indeed a wonderful lesson on how to live your life, especially if you plan on living to be 100!
Joel: How old were you when you first fell in love with George Burns?
Alan: I guess I was in my early teens when I started watching re-runs of the Burns and Allen show, but I think I really fell in love with them when I started doing research for my show. They’re a great love story besides being a great show business team…
Joel: Who were your favorite radio stars and comedians?
Alan: Besides George and Gracie, I loved Jack Benny, Bob Hope, and Fred Allen…
Joel: Do you think that Gracie was the brains behind the Burns and Allen success?
Alan: Gracie was the talent, George was the brains…
Joel: What is your favorite Burns and Allen routine?
Alan: My favorite is when he asks her about the beautiful flowers that she has. She says that if it wasn’t for him, she wouldn’t have them. When he asks why, she says, ” When I went to visit (her friend) Clara in the hospital, you told me to take her flowers, so, when she wasn’t looking, I did!” That line never fails to get a laugh…
Joel: Why do you think George Burns is still famous today?
Alan: Everyone seems to remember him from his role as God in “Oh, God.” But also he’s like your favorite grandfather, who is down-to-earth, wise and very funny all rolled into one package…
Joel: What is the difference from last years Fringe Festival and this year’s?
Alan: This year’s festival doesn’t seem to be getting as much attention in the press. As for me personally, I didn’t draw a big crowd last year because my audience is a niche market that isn’t really the type to go to something like a fringe festival. This year I’m doing better, however. I’ve added some new material and taken out some stuff that I didn’t feel was working (George would have done the same thing!) I recently added a power point show to the background, giving the show some wonderful visuals. Unfortunately, the space that I have this year doesn’t allow me the opportunity to use it…
To view a video clip from the show, click here
An Evening With George Burns concludes its Capitol Fringe run Sunday, July 29th at Noon (12 PM).
Alan DeValerio says
I’d like to invite everyone in the metro area to come out on Sunday at noon at the Warehouse-Beyond to see my George Burns show. The show is a touching and funny tribute to one of the most enduring, and endearing entertainers who ever lived. I guarantee that you’ll come away with a smile on your face! Don’t miss this final opportunity to experience this nostalgic performance…Alan DeValerio (aka George Burns)