I made a trip to the airport this morning because my wife was traveling overseas to visit her family in the Philippines. We took a cab to the airport, as my 2001 Ford Focus hatchback is loaded with my all-season tires and because, I must admit, I am petrified of driving in the snow. Even though I’m a central New York native and should be used to the snow by now, I’ve never regained a mastery of winter driving after living in Phoenix, Arizona, for eight years.
On my cab ride back to downtown Syracuse, I had the pleasure of riding with a local celebrity—Nick Marra, a.k.a. Funny Man Nick—a stand-up comic.
Nick told me he just got back to Syracuse after spending some time in Florida, where he performed several shows all over the state, including in Fort Myers, Sarasota and Miami. His acts included some 3 p.m. performances catering to the “early bird” senior citizen crowd. “It was great,” he said, “because I could book one show in the afternoon and do another one at night.”
As we talked while he drove, his sense of humor seemed evident.
He explained how after returning from Florida, he had to clear the snow off his cab at the garage parking lot, and there was no snow brush in his car. So he snagged a snow broom from the garage and then forgot to put it back before driving off. The broom with a long wooden handle was lying on the floor in the back seat, stretching from door to door. “Oh well, somebody at the garage will be pissed about it,” Nick said.
He also described the cold welcome a woman from San Diego received when she flew in to Syracuse yesterday from Southern California. She’s here visiting her boyfriend, who is stationed at Fort Drum. When she left San Diego the temperature was 75 degrees and sunny, and when she arrived in Watertown it was around minus 20 with wind chill.
I thought, she must really love her boyfriend if she’s willing to withstand such an extreme temperature fluctuation.
Nick said he drives the cab a few times a week and does stand-up shows on a freelance basis, traveling throughout the upstate region and also visiting Canada and other parts of the U.S. He performs regularly at the Funny Bone Comedy Club in Destiny USA.
Nick said securing bookings for comic shows has become more difficult in recent years. “In the old days you could call the club owners. Now it’s all through email and most of the time you don’t hear back from them.”
He also said a lot of the owners don’t like older comics. “They want guys who are young and slick and good looking.”
I believe Nick said he’s about fifty years old, and I mentioned that being older just means he has built a deeper repository of life lessons and stories to call upon. “Exactly,” he said. “I can talk about my family and my kids.”
As he pulled over to the side of the road on University Avenue near Starbucks, I thanked him for the ride and told him how cool I thought it was that he drives a cab in between his comedy acts. And he said, “Yeah, you got to ride with a stand-up comic. This ain’t no chicken shit cab driver.”
I laughed, opened the door and stepped out of the car. Nick turned his head, looked over the back of his seat and said, “Oh I guess I dropped you off right in the middle of a snowbank.” And then he chuckled.
He told me to look him up online and contact him if I want tickets for one of his shows. Judging by the preview I received in his cab, I surmise his act is worth a few laughs.
According the Central New York Playhouse website, Nick will be teaching a six-week, stand-up comedy class beginning March 7th. For more information, go here. For more information about Nick Marra, visit his website and Facebook page.