‘Everybody’ laughs Raymond

Ray Romano returns to the stage with new Netflix original

By on February 13, 2019

Since the ending of “Everybody Loves Raymond,” Ray Romano has taken part in additional sitcoms such as “Parenthood,” “Men of a Certain Age” and “Get Shorty.” It wasn’t until now, 23 years later, that Romano has returned to his stand-up roots.

Photo courtesy of Netflix Media Center
On Feb. 5, Netflix released the special “Ray Romano: Right Here, Around the Corner.” Viewers follow Romano walking through the Greenwich Village streets as he prepares to do stand-up at the Comedy Cellar, the club where he first began his career. The special is split into two parts, the first half being a routine done in the original home of the Comedy Cellar, the latter in its sister building “The New Room,” which, as the title implies, is right around the corner.

Both of the two halves of the Romano’s appearances came as a surprise to the audience. Prior to his second performance, the emcee tells the crowd that a perk of attending Comedy Cellar owned venues is the surprise guests, as they then erupt in applause seeing Romano walk on stage.

Unsurprisingly, Romano’s material mostly involves spousal humor and stories about his kids. Of course, these are the stories that made him television’s highest paid actor in a sitcom for “Everybody Loves Raymond.” In the special, he also mentions his brother Robert, whom the series based a character on with the same name.

Other topics involved dealing with getting older and trying to get brownie points with his wife. There was plenty of material on his kids, with stories about his daughter moving into her first college dorm and his son who ran out of gas on a five-lane freeway.

Romano may have started doing stand-up in the Comedy Cellar but that isn’t where he caught his big break. In the spring of 1995, Romano appeared as a guest on “Late Night with David Letterman” as a comic following Mel Gibson. What an act to follow to try to jumpstart your career.

Romano delivered his routine for Letterman and a jam-packed crowd and absolutely crushed it. Following the performance, Letterman followed a tradition of Johnny Carson’s by inviting Romano to be interviewed for a moment after the commercial break. Traditionally, this was a high honor reserved for only the A- list guests (in this case Gibson) but it showed how impressed the old late night veteran was with the young comic.

Following Romano’s appearance on the show, Letterman made some phone calls to network executives at CBS and told them he wanted to back a sitcom starring Romano. As we all know, “Everybody Loves Raymond” was born and the rest is history.

Some of Romano’s other well-known work comes in the form of his voice-overs. Romano lends his talents to all five of the “Ice Age” movies as the main character Manny.

As far as upcoming projects, Romano is slated to appear in the film, “The Irishman,” later this year. The film tells the story of the murder of labor union leader Jimmy Hoffa from the perspective of a hitman. It is directed by Martin Scorsese and stars Robert De Niro and Al Pacino as members of a crime family.

It seems quite fitting Romano finds himself in yet another work about family. It’s his calling card and he truly is at his funniest when he plays to his strengths. “Right Here Around the Corner” ends in a bit of a different way than most other stand-up comics would but it stays true to Romano.

After the second show, Romano is joined by his family who had just finished watching their respective dad and husband tell jokes about them for a half hour. He introduces them on screen the way he did on stage and they walk together down the street giving feedback on the show. Eventually, they settle down at a pizzeria and all begin eating together and laughing, the exact same way “Everybody Loves Raymond” faded to black on its finale fourteen years ago.

Although Romano enjoys poking fun at how he is getting older, somehow, someway, his jokes are still timeless. He can still use similar material and setups in his work, but as the Netflix special proves, he’s not going anywhere.

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