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Career comedian

October 29, 2011
By Cindy Votruba ( , Marshall Independent

He's been doing comedy for more than three decades, but most recently Jeff Cesario's 3-year-old daughter has entered into the material for his routine.

Cesario will perform at 8 p.m. today at the Landmark Mercantile in Marshall. He will share the stage with fellow comedians Dwight York and Rox Tarrant.

Growing up in Kenosha, Wis., Cesario said his parents were both funny people - his father had intentional humor and his mother's was unintentional.

He said that his beginnings in comedy really "boils down to chicks."

"(I thought) maybe I can impress some of the girls in high school," Cesario said. "I did realize I had an infinity for it early on."

Cesario was a freelance musicians and wrote for newspapers and magazines. He moved to Minnesota to do stand-up. Cesario said that in the early 1980s, the comedy scene was bursting across the country. That included the Twin Cities, with such comedians as Louie Anderson, William "Wild Bill" Bauer and Scott Hansen.

"They needed new blood," Cesario said. "I really like writing, so I was turning over material. I learned probably more from those guys all styles of comedy."

Cesario described learning from his fellow Minnesota comics as a "mini comedy seminar" with Bauer being an adventurous writer and Anderson working the crowd.

He moved to Los Angeles in 1983 and made his debut on "Late Night With David Letterman" a year later. He also appeared on "The Tonight Show" several times. Cesario remembered his first appearance on "The Tonight Show" with Johnny Carson back in the early 1980s. He always wanted to do stand-up especially on "The Tonight Show."

"I could not tell you what was going through my mind when I was up there," Cesario said.

During his early career, Cesario had struck up a friendship with Dennis Miller before either of them had hit it big. A few years later, he got the opportunity to work with Miller on "Dennis Miller Live" for HBO. At the time Cesario hadn't done anything in front of the camera.

"I executively produced the show," Cesario said about "Dennis Miller Live." "He was a great guy to write for." The show earned Cesario two Emmys.

"It was the first cable primetime show to beat network primetime competition," Cesario said. "I'm proud of the work we did on the show and what it helped to achieve."

Cesario then went on to write for Garry Shandling's "The Larry Sanders Show."

"I always wanted to learn how to write stories, narratives," Cesario said. "Garry was a genius."

Cesario met his wife in Minnesota and became a father for the first time in his 50s. His daughter is now 3 years old who he describes as an "angry leopard cub" like Jack Hanna brings to "The Tonight Show."

"I really gotta keep in shape to keep up," Cesario said.

And he still keeps busy in comedy. Cesario said he does 12 weeks of road work as year.

"I've been having more fun on stage than I have (in years)," he said.

Cesario has a show on the website titled "The Dick Rossi Show." He said it's four-minute long episodes.

"It's essentially a parody of talk shows," Cesario said. He said he portrays a host who does "everything Johnny Carson or David Letterman have done, but without the grace or class." "It's a real mashup, but it's a real lot of fun."

He's shopping it to networks and is also working on a sit-com "Brave New Dads," which is loosely based on being an older father.

He'll bring that comedy to Marshall, saying that he always finds Minnesota crowds really great and glad to share the stage with Tarrant and York.

"They're headline-caliber comedians in their own right," Cesario said.



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