Sal Calanni and The Close Shave


calanniBay Area Comic Sal Calanni recently moved to LA to pursue his dream of acting, stand-up and finding pick-up basketball games. Working the NorCal scene for the better part of a decade, Calanni hit all the checks on the comedy bucket list and now has a brand new comedy album out.

His album, Little Dago, is based off something his father used to say, and this album is kind of a nod to him since it’s the first time Calanni revisited material about his dad since he passed in 2012. It also covers Calanni’s journey from Cleveland, to SF to East Hollywood to working with the SF Giants and Spike Lee, and of course mules, pandas and Carpet the Cat.

Italian, belly laugher, lactose intolerant, Cleveland bred, this dude has got a bright future.

Little Dago is now available to preorder on iTunes and will be available in all other digital forms. Available here:


SUSC: Morning

Calanni: Top of the morning to you! I got my cup of joe right here and I’m all ready for you.

Were you doing comedy in Cleveland before moving to the Bay Area?

Never. I started in San Francisco. I didn’t know it was even a thing in Cleveland. I liked SNL in the early 90’s, Farley and those guys. I was into comedy, but I didn’t know how to express that. I did do some acting in college and made a short film while I was there.

Who was your crew when you first started hitting mics?

Reggie Steele, Robert Sealander, Stu Kosh, Grant Edwards. Moshe Kasher, Brent Weinbach, W. Kamau Bell and Kevin Avery started right before me. I used to watch Kamau and Avery going off every Sunday at The Punchline. I would stand in the back and try to memorize my set, in case I got called up. Eventually you get up and begin to get a little respect from those guys. Now, I just saw Kamau’s show, Shades of America on CNN, it’s really good. Great to see him doing well.

You worked your way up from the open mics to the showcases to the clubs.

I would hang out at the Punchline on Sundays, but I also acted a lot. I did sketches and videos. I eventually was working all the clubs in the Bay Area and up the West Coast. And of course, Chico.

Never Forget. (This refers to an ill-fated Pawns of Comedy show in Chico, where Calanni found the bottom of a bottomless champagne breakfast. After a full day projectile vomiting he was sequestered to a hotel room, where, uhm, bad things happened. Editor’s note)

You put your heart and soul into a movie about a barbershop quartet called Lucifer’s Crewcut.

The first year we did Sketchfest we did the act live onstage. It was awesome and people loved it. Some film maker friends of ours who produced movies told us they were looking to start their own project. I wrote a script, Robert wrote a script and it took a long time to get it shot, but once we did, I got a producer credit. We had a lot of good cameos, Maria Bamford, Jello Biafra, Arj Barker, GWAR. It got accepted into a couple of festivals, like Bumpershoot. It was cool because, Grant Lyon another comedy partner of mine made a film that had also been accpeted that I was in also. So I was in two films at Bumpershoot. But films are tough man, you put so much time and energy into it, and in the end, all you have is a film that most people will never see.

And you get the credit.

The credit can help with future work.

Did you do the sketch with Grant Lyon and you’re down at Fisherman’s Wharf asking people if they want to shave Grant’s back?

My first sketch group was called Tossing Alice with Robert Selander, Omied Far, Katie Motta, Geordie Martinez, Matt Morales, Greg Edwards and Paul Trask. Then I started Four in the Back with Grant Lyon. The first thing we did, before we even had a name for the group, was get people to shave Grant’s back. And people would do it! We got chased by the police. I guess there are specific rules about shaving in public. I did some other sketches that were about my dad with flashbacks of me as a kid. Grant gets things done and he’s easy to work with. DIY. Nothing wrong with that.

The current blueprint for new comedians is to be well versed in writing, acting, producing, podcasts and performing. But when you were coming up, you made it up as you went.

It wasn’t easy. We would do sketches in Modesto, without microphones in a place that became a dance club. But, I never gave up. We just filmed a new sketch Orange is the New Blackface. My girlfriend is a film maker and we rented costumes, casted…its pretty good.

How is LA?

I’m still adjusting to the game. It’s kind of annoying. You don’t have to be a strong stand-up to have good things happen to you, if you have a good video. If  you’re great at stand-up and that’s all you do, it’s hard to get any traction. It’s all about content, that’s what I’m learning.

People tend to run to LA while you took your time, building up your resume and content, before moving.

You know what dude, I was enjoying myself! I would work a few jobs and then just do stand-up and acting. I could walk into any room and get up, I didn’t care about LA. I knew all the casting directors in SF so I also got acting work. I got to audition for Woody Allen. I got a part for Spike Lee. With those kind of opportunities it wasn’t a rush to move to LA. Now that I’m here, I’m learning those kinds of opportunities are very rare. I will say my first audition down here, I got a call back, was for Coppola who was a producer. It was 30 other Italian looking dudes and Coppola and we did like an improv game. It was a very cool experience and I thought LA was great. But, nothing that cool has happened since. I might be in the major league but there are a hundred guys on the bench. I drive by the studios. Guys I know are down here doing great. So there’s work, but you gotta get in by having hustle and drive. But you gotta make your own way. That’s why this new album gave me something to work towards. I recorded it at the Punchline in SF. I pitched it to labels myself after it was recorded. I found a distributor and it hit the charts, so that’s cool.

Is this your first album?

Second. I actually did one in 2010 recorded at the Comedy Clubhouse. That room is where I got my 30 minutes down. It could be 150 kids in there, it was BYOB, it was a hot room. So, Little Dago is out on iTunes. But you can’t say Dago on iTunes, so it’s D**O. It’s not Little Dildo. I used to talk about my dad all the time, but when he passed away in 2012, I stopped. But I love my dad stuff, so it was time to record it.

What does Little Dago refer to?

When I used to shop at the Westside Market in Cleveland, my dad and I would get these little pizza bagels. I asked him what they were called and he said, “Little Dagos.” He walked up to the Italian guy selling them and said, “Give me two Little Dagos.” The guy was like, “What did you just say?” But that’s funny, right. Nowadays everyone is so sensitive. It’s different.



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