Talking With Felipe Esparza – February 22, 2018

Talking With Felipe Esparza – February 22, 2018

This week, Ira spoke with Felipe Esparza. To listen to the interview click below.

Felipe Esparza, performing at Treasure Island February 23, got his start as a comedian because someone asked him to list five goals in life. During a stint in rehab before he was 21, Felipe was asked what he wanted out of life. As a young immigrant growing up in the projects in Boyle Heights (East L.A.) and then as a teenage father with a drug and alcohol problem, it was a difficult task because he had never thought that far ahead.

Among the items on that list: “to be happy” and “be a stand-up comedian” – because of how he connected to an old Bill Cosby album when he was younger. Up until that question, Felipe was under the impression that life was over at 18.

From being raised in the projects in a family of nine living in the most gang-infested neighborhood in the country to winning NBC’s “Last Comic Standing,” to selling out live comedy shows all over the country and being able to act in TV shows and movies, Esparza’s life has been anything but boring.

He worked for years as a stand-up comedian, opening on the road for fellow comedians such as Gabriel Iglesias and Paul Rodriguez, then took a leap of faith and went out on his own – which led to very little income and opportunity at first.

After the 16-year “overnight success” of winning “Last Comic Standing,” Esparza went on to produce his first hour long stand-up comedy special, “They’re Not Gonna Laugh at You” (now on Netflix).

Today, in addition to his live stand-up touring, Felipe hosts a weekly podcast on the All Things Comedy Network called “What’s Up Fool?” that focuses on interesting stories from just about anybody.


Talking With Herb Alpert – February 15, 2018

This week, Ira spoke with Herb Alpert. To listen to the interview click below.

Nine-time Grammy winner Herb Alpert, performing with Grammy winning vocalist Lani Hall at The Smith Center February 23-24, came of age in a house filled with music. At the age of eight, he was drawn to the trumpet in a music appreciation class in his elementary school.

A legendary trumpet player, Alpert’s extraordinary musicianship has earned him five #1 hits, nine GRAMMY® Awards, the latest from his 2014 album, “Steppin’ Out,” 15 Gold albums, 14 Platinum albums and has sold over 72 million records.

Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass propelled his sound into the pop music limelight, at one point outselling the Beatles two to one. In 1966, they achieved the since-unmatched feat of simultaneously having four albums in the Top 10– and five in the Top 20. Herb Alpert also has the distinction of being the only artist who has had a #1 instrumental and vocal single.

As an industry leader, Alpert’s commitment to artists with personal vision guided A&M Records (with partner Jerry Moss) from a Hollywood garage operation into one of the most successful independent record labels in music history that started in 1962 with Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. Stars including Janet Jackson, Quincy Jones, Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66, Stan Getz, Cat Stevens, Supertramp, The Carpenters, Carole King, Sheryl Crow, Peter Frampton, The Police and scores of others that are evidence of the consistent quality and diversity of the A&M Records family.

In 2006, Alpert and Moss were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in recognition of their accomplishments and are a part of the Grammy Museum’s ”Icons of the Music Industry” series. In 2013 Herb Alpert was awarded The National Medal of Arts Award by President Barack Obama for his musical, philanthropic and artistic contributions.


Talking With Lao Tizer – February 8, 2018

This week, Ira spoke with Lao Tizer. To listen to the interview click below.

Pianist, keyboardist and composer Lao Tizer, performing with The Lao Tizer Band at The Smith Center February 9-10, boasts a career that now spans nine albums over nearly a quarter of a century.

He was a teenage prodigy, the son of hippies with a Russian-Jewish background, and the mix of that ethnic family heritage, parental new age influence and growing up with the sights and sounds of ’80s and ’90s pop culture (alongside the music of the ’60s and ’70s he heard from his parents) encouraged him to embrace a wider range of influences and stretch himself and his players.

The evolution of the Lao Tizer Band is revealed in Songs From The Swinghouse. Tizer incorporated a vocalist into the recording and touring band. “I spent my whole life writing instrumental music, and now I’m working on original material for the group including vocals.”

Ultimately, Tizer eschews being formulaic. “I try and just stay true to my muse and to use every bit of my facility to create great music that hopefully has its own voice and continues to evolve as I continue to evolve as a person. It’s very reflective of me, it’s all I’ve done all my life.”


Talking With Arsenio Hall – February 1, 2018

Talking With Arsenio Hall – February 1, 2018

This week, Ira spoke with Arsenio Hall. To listen to the interview click below.

Actor, comedian and producer Arsenio Hall, who will be headlining in the Orleans Showroom, February 3, first became involved in the arts at The Cleveland Playhouse and continued to hone his craft through his Kent State University years.

In 1979, Hall moved from Ohio to Chicago, Illinois where he tried his hand at
stand-up comedy and was discovered by Jazz singer Nancy Wilson. In the following few years he toured, opening for twenty major headliners including Patti LaBelle, Aretha Franklin, Tina Turner and Stevie Wonder. A short time later, Hall attempted to diversify his career by making numerous appearances on television shows such as “Solid Gold” and “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson”…and doing his first film cameo in “Amazon Women on the Moon,” directed by John Landis.

In 1987, Hall was asked to replace Joan Rivers on the Fox Network series
“The Late Show.” On the strength of his work as interim host, he was signed to a film and television deal with Paramount Pictures, which subsequently led to the opportunity to co-write and co-star in the hit Paramount comedy “Coming to America.”

On January 3, 1989, “The Arsenio Hall Show” made its debut. Virtually overnight, Hall changed the face of late night television by captivating young viewers across the country. During his successful five-year run as executive producer, Arsenio provided a forum for cutting edge comedy, politics and the television debut of such pop superstars as Mariah Carey, Snoop Doggy Dogg, Boyz II Men, and countless others.

In 1994, Hall was again ready to grow and diversify. He resigned from the late night gabfest to pursue other personal and professional interests.

Currently, he is enjoying a return to his first love of stand-up comedy, performing at venues across the country.