Local Love: Brian Zeolla
Leon casino, Photo by Barmy Photography
It’s hard to believe that one guy could get so much press, but if your name is Brian Zeolla, you get mentioned a lot. This isn’t favoritism, just a simple fact in that Zeolla has lots going on. One of the most proactive comics I’ve ever met, he seems to always be a part of or is in the middle of making his own performances. When FPH sat down with him to feature him as the first in the “Stand Up And Deliver” series, he was getting ready to for his continuing Level Up series of shows. Two months later he would record his first album, “Okay, You Got It!” As a audience member of one of the two performances recorded at Beta Theater that were cut together to make this record, I can attest to the fact that the laughs were as real as Zeolla’s jokes came across.
I’ll be honest when I say that I was a little freaked out when Zeolla told me that he was going to make this album. It’s not because he isn’t funny, because he is funny, and it’s not because he couldn’t fill the time, because he can. It’s more because it came off as one of the ballsiest things I’ve seen in a long time. It’s ballsy because Zeolla is only in his second year as a comedian. That means, that all of his hard work to mold this material would be waved goodbye which is also known as burning. Most successful comedians drop an album and then “burn” that material, never to do it again. This is almost ritualistic for guys who are constantly on the road or who have already appeared on TV. But for a comedian who’s just getting started, it’s incredibly brave.
Honesty is important when you are a storyteller, and Brian Zeolla is definitely a storyteller. That’s not a bad thing, as most of the great comedians do as Zeolla does. George Carlin, Eddie Murphy, and Marc Maron have jokes hidden inside what feels like a conversation or a story they’re telling you. Zeolla tells a story more like a Blink-182 song than that of one by James Taylor, but it’s all based on the reality in which he exists. From the start of the album, the listener is greeted with a cold open, where Zeolla starts the frantic pace in the vein of how his comedic rhythm flows. You immediately realize that these stories that are peppered with self effacing jokes are something that Zeolla has to get out; almost like he’s exercising demons. Through this pace, we’re taken on a journey that runs from oversharing about personal, truly personal things; to working crappy jobs and relationships, or lack there of.
The personal nature in which Zeolla zig zags through his years of self doubt and sadness are not done with a depressing tone however. It’s more of a “look at how dumb I am” kind of way in which the audience gets to see themselves in every aspect of Zeolla’s tales about life, love, and the pursuit of happiness. Even the album’s title comes from a joke about someone who supervised Brian at one of his career choices in his storied past. In a world where he feels like the last nice guy on earth, you’d feel sorry for him, if you weren’t so busy laughing at his anguish. In just over an hour, we get a hilarious glimpse into the world of a guy who gave up a cushy job for the love of comedy;and the anguish that makes all of that comedy possible. Zeolla closes this performance up with one of the funniest and most honest reasons on why an adopted guy like him shouldn’t find out about where he’s from.
You can’t deny how honest and gut wrenchingly personal this album comes off. But the laughter that emotes from such pain and misunderstandings, is just as real and authentic. You can find out how painfully funny Zeolla is in person at one of his Level Up shows at Rudyard’s, and this weekend on May 3rd at Beta Theater for Choke! The Comedy Game Show. If the title, “Okay, You Got It!” comes from someone approving of a job well done, then Zeolla has definitely got this comedy thing down.