Interview with ‘The Entertainer’ Runner-up and Wise Guy Dave Russo

This excerpt first appeared in the Wilkes University Beacon, Russo’s alma mater

After graduating from Wilkes University in 1993, this Boston native has been gracing stages at comedy clubs from east coast to west.

A few times, he was bit by the acting bug, landing roles in AT&T and Dunkin Donuts commercials. Last spring, he was one of ten contestants who were vying for stardom via a $1 million dollar contract with Wayne Newton’s show on E!, The Entertainer. Russo, dubbed ‘The Wise Guy,’ came in second but still impressed Newton enough to get signed as well. Russo relocated to Vegas where he plays at several comedy clubs and hotels. The funny man will bring his talent back to his alma mater next weekend as part of the 2005 Homecoming festivities. Earlier this summer, The Beacon had a chance to chat with Russo.

The Beacon: Hey. Is this Dave?
Russo: Yes, but it’s not a good time. I’m trying to pick up a girl. No, no, I’m just kidding. But I am in the mall. Can I call you back?
The Beacon: Sure. Hey – tell her I’m the girl you rescued yesterday from a scorching fire….you’ll look like a hero.

Take 2.

The Beacon: What does it mean to have a contract with Wayne Newton and his management company Aries2?
Russo: This means that they are managing my career. They are my reps and I have a publicist now. It is one more step in the ‘biz’ to have representation. We’re shopping for agents.

The Beacon: How is it having a comedy great as a manger and mentor?
Russo: He’s been fantastic! It pumps you up to see Wayne laugh at you. This is the guy who was given his break by Jack Benny and Jackie Gleason and now he is giving me mine.

The Beacon: Now that you’ve had your ‘television season of fame,’ do you find that people look at you differently? Like they are trying to figure out where they know you from?
Russo: When I first got to Vegas, I went up to a couple to ask where a parking garage was, and they were like, ‘It’s Dave Russo from The Entertainer!’ And then, I ran into another couple from Mississippi when I was buying sneakers, and they said I was the second ‘celebrity’ they ran into- they also saw Flavor Flav who was on the Surreal Life. I was mentioned in the same sentence as Flavor Flav! I guess I’m good enough to get recognized.

The Beacon: What type of humor do you prefer in your own shows?
Russo: I am versatile. I can be clean or dirty. Depends on the audience.

The Beacon: Who or what makes YOU laugh?
Russo: I like it when people are real and tell it like it is. I laugh at Jim Carrey, Steve Martin and Bill Cosby. Physical comedy makes me laugh. The everyday things do, too.

The Beacon: How has the reception been from your Wilkes classmates?
Russo: I get lots of calls from old friends. The positive reception from my Wilkes family has just been fantastic. I’ve gotten a lot of support from my classmates.

The Beacon: So, how would you describe where you’re at now?
Russo: It’s just explosive right now. The career is good…(The Entertainer) isn’t the last time you’ll see me on TV.

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