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Friday night homecoming

South Philly native Steve Rinaldi is looking forward to delivering laughs at the Performance Garage

By Bill Gelman

Steve Rinaldi has plenty of funny stories to share, like the night he was hanging out at the back of the Laff House. This is the same place A-lister Kevin Hart got his start. When the MC asked if he wanted to get on stage, like any aspiring young comedian, he jumped at the opportunity.

Rinaldi said he “bombed” to the point where you could hear “crickets” for six-minutes straight. His father was sitting there with all of his Italian friends. But if it was a real career bomb, the native of the 2400 Block of South Juniper Street wouldn’t be sharing the story several years later.

This time around, Rinaldi, who was a member of the last graduating class at the former St. John Neumann High School, is part of the Starving Artist Prevention Homecoming Comedy Showcase taking place at the Performance Garage on Friday (Nov. 3) starting at 8 p.m. The show is being billed as “90 minutes of non-stop laughter,” and one Rinaldi is very excited about.

“I love coming back, but it’s funny. I perform in small towns in other areas of the country selling who I am — a guy from South Philly,” he said. “When I come back home it’s a little extra pressure when people who know me who come to see my show. When I perform in the city, it’s like I am starting over because I have new material.”

This one-night-only event is being hosted by Phil Forrence with performances from Chris Cotton and Emily Galati. Currently residing in Albany, New York, Rinaldi has spent the last five years traveling the country as a stand-up comedian. He has worked at the Laugh Factory and Zanies in Chicago and is currently a regular at the Funny Bone in Albany. The comedy routine serves as a funny side routine to his day job on the casino floor where he works as a pit boss. Rinaldi said his act is based around growing up as an only child in an Italian family.

Yes, he plans to see his family. Grabbing a bite or two at some of his favorite neighborhood spots — Geno’s, Pat’s and John’s Roast Pork — will likely be worked into the schedule.

“Every time I come home I gain like 10 pounds,” Rinaldi said with a laugh. “Chicago has a lot of good food, but there is nothing like being home.”

He makes the most out of these visits as life in New York is working out well. He is producing and hosting a monthly comedy showcase at the Funny Bone called 7 for 7 — seven comedians for the price of just $7. Rinaldi helps put together a show filled with comedians who have performed all over the country.

Looking back, Rinaldi may have bombed that night in Philly, but several years later, he has everybody laughing.

“Bombing is part of it. It’s how you get better,” Rinaldi said. “If you can’t handle a bomb, you shouldn’t be a comedian.”

Tickets for the Homecoming Comedy Showcase are $25. Visit comedyhomecoming.brownpapertickets.com.

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