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Wednesday, December 26,2012

Gettin' Figgy with it

Comedian comes home for Christmas comedy act

by Hannah Scott
You don’t get into stand-up comedy without thinking you’re funny, but re-watching your old material can be disconcerting for any comedian. 

“You look back at your old videos and you think, ‘Wow, I sucked,’” says Bert DiVietri, a Grand Ledge native doing stand-up in San Francisco. “It’s usually not very personal, (but) once you get a few years in, you start to find your voice and point of view.” 

Lansing comedy fans can experience DiVietri’s wit at his annual end-of-the-year comedy performance, the Extreme Figgy Pudding Comedy Show, which happens Friday at the Creole Gallery in Old Town. He will perform two shows that night — the first, at 7 p.m., will be tamer, but he says at the second one at 9 p.m. “will be a lot dirtier, for sure.”    

Although he got his start by videotaping pranks and performance art, DiVietri, 29, didn’t start to get serious about comedy until 2005. He says went to Second City Training school for about a year, then started performing hip-hop comedy for a couple years under the name Death Ray Astray, which he still dabbles in. He says his style today reflects some of his primary influences — such as Tom Green, Patton Oswalt and Nick Swardson — but he has honed his edgy, oddball technique into something distinct.  

“I’m starting to find the personal things in my life that are really funny,” he says. 

DiVietri moved to California in 2010, where he became a regular at the world-famous (but recently closed) Purple Onion comedy club. He says he’s also kept busy getting laughs at military fundraisers, “nerd-comedy venues” and hip-hop comedy shows across the West Coast. It seems like the California sun is doing him good.

“My comedy is going great here,” he says. “I’m getting booked for road gigs and have had a lot of good opportunities to make things happen. But I’m still a very young comic. I’m not forcing something I am not ready for. I am definitely having fun in the process.” 

DiVietri’s sketch comedy group, Don’t Watch This Show Live, just got accepted into the San Francisco Sketchfest which he says is big. 

“It’s one of the biggest comedy festivals in the world,” he says. “I’m very excited about that.”

But his mixed-bag approach to comedy might not be popular with everyone. 

“There are a lot of stand-up comics that are purists (who) would probably tell me to shut up right now,” DiVietri says. “I’m still hardcore pursuing stand-up, but once you do it for long enough, it kind of gets old. I enjoy doing as much comedy in different venues and different ways as I can.”

So what can people expect to hear him riff on at the Creole show? Bodily fluids and scatological humor will certainly come into play, as well as bits about ADHD, which he was diagnosed with it as an adult. But even if he shares his experiences with Adderall, he tries to keep his humor relatable. 

“I don’t get up there just to be as weird as I possibly can,” DiVietri said. “I hate it when comedians do that. There has to be something behind the joke. I always try to have a point.” 

It’s wisdom learned after a few years of life on the laugh circuit. But not all of DiVietri’s lessons come from learning things the hard way — he said he listens to the tips he’s gleaned from the assortment of veterans he’s come across. 

“(So I’m doing) what every pro comic tells every newb,” he says. “‘Keep getting up!’”

Extreme Figgy Pudding Comedy Show
Dec. 28
7 p.m. & 9 p.m.
Creole Gallery
1218 Turner St.
Lansing
$10
(517) 862-1553

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