Written by Gemma Cocomello on 14.07.17

What do you get when you combine humour, Italians, and musical comedy? You get the hilarious Italian-Canadian comedy duo known as the Doo-Wops! And the best part is they’ll be performing at the Ethnic Show at this year’s Just For Laughs Festival! Comprised of David Mesiano and John Catucci, this dynamic duo are no strangers to JFL. Back in 2001, they were crowned winners of the festival’s popular Homegrown Comic Competition and have made numerous appearances since their big win. They’ve toured all over the world with their unique brand of comedy, which includes hilarious original and parodied musical numbers such as: “No Gino No Cry,” “Mangia Cake Girl,” and “Nonna,” just to name a few. Together, they are a force to be reckoned with but separately, they have had their own successful careers in entertainment. John was the host of the popular Food Network series You Gotta Eat Here and David has been featured on Comedy Inc and the Sean Cullen Show. We caught up with both John and David to talk about comedy, Italians, music, and more.

Welcome back to Montreal and to Just For Laughs! We’re so happy you’ll be here for the festival’s 35th anniversary. You guys are pretty well known here but for the people who maybe aren’t so familiar with the Doo-Wops, can you give us a brief summary about how this all started?

David Mesiano: We met in university. John had already graduated and I auditioned for a theatre group. John was an alumni and guest star director. After I auditioned, I was cast and that is officially how we met. We only really started working together after the production.

John Catucci: I was working on another play after that and they were looking for someone who could play a young immigrant and I told them: Hey, I know the perfect guy!

DM: He just screams young immigrant!

JC: Yeah Dave Mesiano is the guy! During that time, I had been doing sketch comedy with other people but really wanted to do musical comedy. I knew Dave played guitar and suggested that we try to do something together. He had some ideas; he had been doing that sort of thing already. Then we just started playing together at venues around Toronto. Some friends of ours ran some spaces where we were able to use our time on stage and it’s been go-go after that.

Doo Wops Ethnic Show Poster Doo wops montreal ethnic show just for laughs festival

This is your first time back at JFL since 2010. You’ll be part of one of the festival’s most popular showcases. Can you give us a synopsis of what we can expect from this year’s Ethnic Show?

JC: I think it’s going to be a great one. The other acts on the show are pretty incredible. It’s going to be a taste of all different types of ethnicities.

DM: Hence the name: The Ethnic Show!

JC: Exactly! From us, the audience is going to get some songs, some stories, and some fun. There’s also going to be some sexiness!

DM: There will definitely be some sexiness!

JC: Yes! People will get pregnant, both men and women.

DM: It’ll be baby-making music for sure. That’s the power of song.

John Catucci 1 Doo wops montreal ethnic show just for laughs festival

Just For Laughs is known as the number 1 comedy festival in the world. We’re extremely proud of it here in Montreal. Can you tell us just how important this festival is for comedians, performers, etc?

DM: It’s definitely number one because it’s so well known. The quality and also the variety of acts that the festival brings in are outstanding. The way the city embraces it is so lovely and so fantastic. From the people who work at the festival and most importantly, the audience members, everyone comes in ready to laugh

You guys will be representing Italians at this year’s Ethnic Show. What is it about Italians that everyone finds so funny?

JC: It’s a fine balance of: we can laugh at ourselves and at the same time we enjoy laughing at others, which is really the joy of comedy. We’re loud! We really like pulling focus away from other people. We’ll be in a conversation with others and we’ll be like, hey it’s my turn now! With Italian culture, it’s always been about story telling and singing. My grandfather used to sing very inappropriate folk songs when he was younger as well and at every festa (feast), he would go on stage and play songs. Singing, entertaining, and telling jokes were always an important part of my life.

David Messiano Doo wops montreal ethnic show just for laughs festival

You sing about a wide variety of topics. You have songs about “ginos,” mangia cakes (non-Italians), nonnas, as well as some (or a lot) of adult humour. Where do you get your inspiration? Are many of them based on real life?

DM: Some of it is real life. Some are situations we’ve heard about. Some are silly thoughts that make us laugh and wonder how we can turn it into a bit that we can work with.

Have you ever gotten into any sort of trouble for a joke or a song that didn’t quite go as well as you had planned?

JC: For the most part, people like our stuff but there will always be some who will feel something is offensive. If you’re trying to make everybody laugh then you’re not going to make anybody laugh. We kind of just make ourselves laugh for the most part.

DM: And ideally it makes others laughs.

Comedians have been getting into a bit of hot water lately and have gotten a bad rep in the media. Do you feel that comedians are getting a bit more restrictive with their material or are they letting loose even more?

DM: I’ve seen both. Comedians restricting themselves but also comedians saying: this is happening right now and not only am I going to talk about it, I’m going to go overboard with it.

JC: Life changes and so does the world. I look back at our earlier material and wonder if that would sell and resonate now. At the time when we wrote the bit it was funny but does it translate now? Sometimes you do step over a line but in the end you have to own up to it. If someone wants to apologize for what they said or did then fine but they’re still the ones who did or said it in the first place.

The Doo Wops Photo 2 Doo wops montreal ethnic show just for laughs festival

You’ve toured all over Canada, US, Australia, and Europe. How do international audiences react to your material versus audiences here in Canada your home country?

DM: I think it all depends on how drunk the audience members are!

JC: We’re always worried about each club we perform in, wondering if our material will translate and carry to the different audiences. When we were in Australia, it was funny to see what worked, what didn’t, what needed to be tweaked. But for the most part, what we write is pretty universal. Maybe songs like Mangia Cake Girl are very specific to Canadian references, but it still seems to work.

John, we all know you from the show You Gotta Eat Here! Montreal is known for its food culture. What do you enjoy more, coming to Montreal with your fork and spoon or with your guitar and microphone (and David, of course)?

DM: Choose your words!

JC: How about a guitar and a fork! The best of both worlds! Montreal has an incredible food scene. I’ve got to try some amazing dishes from doing the show here, which has been great. But coming back to Just For Laughs is always incredibly special and there’s really nothing like it.

Doo Wops Photo 1 Doo wops montreal ethnic show just for laughs festival

David, do you share John’s love of Montreal’s food scene?

DM: I haven’t experienced as much of the Montreal food scene as John has but from the little I’ve had already, it’s delicious, world class, and always a good vibe wherever you go.

What are on you must see and do lists when you come to Montreal?

JC: I gotta get a smoked meat sandwich in me and just walk around and enjoy the city.

A big thanks to John Catucci and David Mesiano for taking the time to chat with us. Their album Almost Nearly Recognizable is available on iTunes. Be sure to check out the Ethnic Show going down from July 12th to 27th at the 35th edition of the Just For Laughs Festival. Click here to get your tickets and view this year’s amazing festival schedule.

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