Joey Maranto answers our questions about Meet the Glory Wholes.
Tell us about the moment where you said to yourself: I just have to do this!
I developed Meet the Glory Wholes while driving to my dad’s house for Christmas in the mid-2000s with my wife and three young children (need I mention in a minivan?). My youngest was a HUGE Wiggles fan and needless to say, we played their CDs everywhere we drove. I remember Captain Feathersword’s song came on about tickling people with his feather sword and thought, “that’s really kind of kinky when you think about it.” So I thought…wouldn’t it be funny if performers wrote risqué songs that adults would find funny, but would go over the children’s heads?
I was immediately hit with a huge wave of ideas that had potential for a great comedy bit. As we pulled into a gas/food station—because anyone with a kid knows you can’t go two miles without stopping for a bathroom or a snack—I knew I had to get them on paper before I forgot them. So, while my wife took them inside, I frantically searched the car for anything I could write on (old receipts, windshield flyers, food wrappers). That night, once the kids were asleep and I was done playing Santa, I continued writing and little did I know, I began laying the groundwork for the show. This was not an overnight process, by any means. I would write, put it aside (sometimes for over a year), then pick it up again—repeating this process many times over the years.
Why is it important to you to do this show?
This show is very personal to me because in one way or another, it documents different segments of my life. I talk about the wild ride of the stand-up comedy boom of the 1980s, to some of the lowest, darkest events I’ve experienced. Thanks to the show, all of the stuff that I’ve managed to suppress and keep hidden, I am able to open up and expose it—and it feels great. It’s what generates the enthusiasm I have on stage when I perform the show.
The show’s turning point came after a performance I had in fall 2017 in Scranton, PA. After the show, I was backstage being my own harshest critic (aren’t we all?) when an audience member came through the curtain. Expecting the worst, this very kind person (and fellow actor as I soon learned) wanted to personally congratulate and thank me for a great show. This blew me away because once my Scranton show run was over, after the last curtain call, I planned on retiring the show and riding off into the sunset. As I was leaving, I told the venue managers about the audience member’s kind words and they agreed, there was something really great and exciting going on with this show and I need to keep that curtain raised. The words I heard that night meant the world to me and that’s why I’m very excited to bring the show to the Washington DC theatre community.
What idea is at the heart of your show?
Never give up on life. We can’t control what happens, so the only thing we can do is strap ourselves in and enjoy the ride. The way I approach life was shaped when I saw the movie “Rocky” back in 1976. I’ve always pulled for the underdog because as long as there is an underdog, there’s always a story to tell and an audience waiting to hear it. There are those out there who say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. To those people I say as long as that an old dog can still run, jump, and fetch, that puppy inside will always want to play.
What have you been learning about yourself during rehearsals?
That when you believe in your show—and most importantly, when you believe in yourself—your confidence, creativeness, and joy for performing will naturally follow. I honestly cherish every second I have on stage and treat it like it’s the last time I’ll ever get to perform. This is why I put everything I have into each and every performance. I think what makes this show successful is that for the first time in my performing career, I’m really having fun. And when the audience sees you having fun, they’ll have fun too.
If you won a Tony for this show, who would you thank?
All those parents out there who are forced, day in and day out, to sit through countless hours of mind numbing children’s entertainment.
When the performance is over, what do you want the audience feeling?
I want each and every audience member to walk away from the show feeling entertained and having no regrets of spending the last 60 minutes with me to hear my story. I want them to realize that no matter what hand life deals you, play it out and live it with no regrets and follow your passion to whatever destination it takes you. Most importantly, take time to stop and smell the roses and enjoy the journey.
Joey Maranto began his performing career on Washington, DC stand-up comedy stages where he worked with such acts as George Lopez, Lewis Black, Larry the Cable Guy, and Mike Burbiglia. He was also a finalist in DC’s 2007 “Funniest Fed Competition.” His first solo show debuted Halloween night in 2001 on Fairfax Cable Access Television. Since then, his solo shows were featured at the Capital Fringe Festival, Wilmington Fringe, and Scranton Fringe Festival. Follow the show on Instagram/Twitter at @meetthegws