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The Maisano Code: Behind the scenes with the Italian Chicks

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot
Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot

So the “Italian Chicks” land a soldout fundrasier, 250 people, for a local Elks Club. The night before, I check out the flyer and it says the event is at the Masonic Temple. I get in bed, turn on the tube and see a special on the Free Masons — who intend to take over the world and have us worship one God. Madonn! I call the other chicks. “This has gotta be a ploy to convert us!”

So Gina intros me the night of the show, and I don’t waste any time.

Maryann Maisano

“Hey, Elks!”

“Hi!” they yell back.

“So you’re all Elks, right?”


“Oh, yeah? Then why don’t ya have a club?”

So I proceed to tell them the story of the Free Masons.

“Furthermore, I just want you all to know that we have red underwear on and salt in our bras in case of the evil eye.”

All of a sudden, we hear pops outside like machine-gun fire.

So what do I do? I HIT THE FLOOR?

Turns out it was fireworks. Made for some good laughs. After that, we couldn’t miss.

So who are the “Italian Chicks”?  If you just saw the show, you know we’re a casino-style comedy troupe — 4 strong, funny women who happen to be Italian. So don’t even go there with the big hair crap or “What exit?” stuff or someone might give you the Mo Green treatment.

The show happens to be my brainchild. I was always in the biz — started out as a singer in a rock & roll band, now I’m a musician, songwriter, comic, actor. So I get this idea. I’ve always been into teamwork, so I had to go out on the hunt for the perfect partners.

The first “chick” who came to mind was Mary Dimino. We started out in comedy together and she’s one of the funniest people around. Oh, and we both had something in common: When Mary and I first met we were both over 220 pounds. Tons of funniness.

We lost touch over the years, but once I phoned her we picked up like yesterday. I swear, we hardly recognized each other. We’d both lost 80 pounds!

Mary’s special: She was in the award-winning PBS documentary “Fat” and documented her struggle in a book. Face of an angel, too.

Then I found Carolann Valentino, a New York-born beauty who moved to Dallas and then returned east, the Italian Rose of Texas.

That left one spot. I’d always wanted a cop on the payroll, and, sure enough, I got one: Gina.

What’s best about the show is that we really love each other. There’s no BS, no drama, no show-boating.

One word of warning, though: You dontt want to be in the green room or dressing room with us before the show. There’s more hair product than meatballs on Sunday.

The show is a huge production — comedy, music, dance  and song. Huge intros for each chick.

We don’t ask our hosts for much: 8 bottles of water and 4 glasses of wine. Oh, yeah — and AIR CONDITIONING…. God forbid our hair should curl!

Every time the girls and I wrap up a gig, we have a ritual: I hit the Onstar, find the closest diner, and the procession begins. Looks like a presidential motorcade.

One time we got booked for Columbus Day in Rhode Island. Huge theater. We check into the hotel, then I Onstar a place to eat. We end up at what we think is a diner but is this quaint little New England joint with potpouri all over and those old placemate with quizzes on them. My production manager was sooooo happy because she likes puzzles and shit….

But we’re tired from the long drive, we have, like, three hours till showtime, and we need a table for 8 in what’s basically a New England bistro.

So we’re waiting for our food, and we’re suddenly in some kind of game show as the girls read the placemats. If a chicken lays an egg and a half in 5 days, how many eggs will 5 chickens lay in 7 days?

Imagine a bunch of “Married to the Mob” broads from Howard Beach in this sweet little café. People are literally moving their kids away.

So I add some “Italian Chick” logic to the game: Say a guy hops the train at Grand Central at 3:15 wit 4 fresh mozzarel’. He gets off at 34th to pick off 12 cannoli. Then he gets back on at Delaney and buys a bag of olives and wedge of cheese.

So: What time did he get to his goumad’s and how many eggs did he break?

It worked: Even the people with the kids laughed.

Sometimes onstage the comedy isn’t intentional — like the time Mary split her pants right before her intro. All said was, “Don’t turn around.”

Or when my belt buckle snapped and flew into the first row. Or when I dropped an entire bottle of water on Gina right before she was ready to introduce me. (“Hey, nice pants!”)

I’m biased, but I can tell you the “Italian Chicks” are the hottest comedy troupe on the scene today. Part meatball, part canolli. You’ll laugh harder than if you got drunk at the opera.

Reviewers have raved about Maryann’s music & standup. She’s opened for Joy Behar and Ray Romano, and has played The Laugh Factory, Broadway Comedy Club and Dangerfield’s. She has a CD out and will be featured on Danny Aiello’s upcoming album, “City of Light.” Judging from the looks of the packed houses, she’ll also be staging plenty more performances with the ITALIAN CHICKS, whose show has been called “part meatball, part cannoli.” For more on Maryann, the group, where they’re performing & how to get tickets, click here: ITALIAN CHICKS . Tell ’em CLIFFVIEWPILOT sent you.

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