Work hard, play hard: Lake Orion alumni pursues stand-up comedy dreams

By Megan Kelley

Review Writer

If making a career out of being funny were easy, we would all do it. Stand-up comics work hard to bring comedic relief to everyday life. They can joke about the things we want or sometimes even need to laugh about.

In the world of stand-up comedy, it’s about connecting with an audience and helping them see the humor in life’s problems, whether they’re major or minor.

This is something that local stand-up comedian Gimmy Cipriano does incredibly well.

Cipriano is 26 years old and graduated from Lake Orion High School in 2011.

After graduating he worked as a chef at various restaurants before deciding to pursue bigger dreams.

“In seventh grade we had to take one of those career placement tests. My number one was chef and my number two was stand-up comedian and I had already failed as a chef so I’m moving down the line,” he joked. “It’s something I never forgot, that in seventh grade that came up. I got into (stand-up comedy) just because I toyed around with it. They would let me, when I worked at 51 North, come out during my cooking shift, when they did their comedy night, they would let me do a set and then go back into the kitchen. So, I got my feet wet there.”

CiprianoThrough his time doing stand-up at 51 North Brewery, Cipriano met some comics who encouraged him to take a class – there was no slowing down after that.

Cipriano started hosting his own stand-up show at CJ’s Sandbar in downtown Lake Orion. He would do his own set as well as bring in other comics to do additional sets. As time wore on, he began to look for different venues to expand his comedy show. That’s when 20 Front Street came into the picture.

20 Front Street had already had several Comedy Nights but picked up Cipriano’s act in February of 2018 and he’s been doing monthly shows there ever since.

Cipriano has been doing comedy for nearly three years now. Not only does he host at 20 Front Street’s Comedy Night, but he has also done sets at Baker’s in Milford, Mark Ridley’s Comedy Castle in Royal Oak, Mac’s in Lansing and Crunchies in East Lansing.

Through these experiences he’s had good shows and bad shows but has learned plenty.

“You’re going to bomb so it’s best to just have a good attitude about it… learn how to find the humor in it, roll it off. This also helps a lot with rejection, not necessarily dating rejection, but just rejection anywhere in life. Like when you ask for something that you want and there’s a good chance you’re not going to get it. That’s something I’ve noticed is just easier to do now,” he said. “Everything else just seems to get a little easier once you get comfortable doing this, talking-wise and personality-wise.”

Cipriano is currently in school at Oakland University studying communications as well as working full time.

“My goal at this point is, once I get school wrapped up and I have my nights completely open again, it’s basically just to get to the point where I’m doing it every night again,” he said. “Long term, ideally, I’d like to be touring. Not even necessarily to be famous…just to get as good as I can possibly get, and I don’t even think there’s a cap on that. I think the comedians that I love are constantly getting better. But ideally one day I’d like to be a touring road comic.”

Cipriano has been running Comedy Night at 20 Front Street for almost a year now. This means that he not only hosts but also picks the comics that come through – something he takes very seriously.

“I’ve been using comics that I screen or that I’ve seen. Basically, I’ve either seen them perform or I’ve seen a video of them performing or, if I’m not seeing a video, they have to have a pretty decent recommendation from someone that I have seen perform, and even then, I would prefer to see a video,” he said. “If these were 7-minute sets, whatever you can be uncomfortable for 7 minutes, but 15 minutes is a long time… I’m not trying to get regular open mic-ers.”

Comedy Night at 20 Front Street is one Wednesday every month. Cipriano has been working on a birthday/anniversary set for Feb. 13, which will feature national headliner and Sirius radio personality Sal Demilio.

He is also working on getting together a set of all female comics for a ladies’ night show in March.

Cipriano is known as a goofy guy with a self deprecating sense of humor that is sure to make people laugh and feel good about it.

“They should see me because compared to me I think people are going to walk away feeling great about their lives,” he laughed. “People should see the show because there’s no comedy in Lake Orion. The closest comedy you can get is in Royal Oak. It’s hands down one of the most professional venues in the state for seeing stand up. We’ve been bringing in better- and better-quality acts. I think every show has gotten a little better than the last.”

To purchase tickets for Comedy Night at 20 Front Street visit www.20frontstreet.com/events. Tickets also are available at the door, but shows have been known to sell out before-hand. Follow Cipriano’s journey to stardom on Instagram @gimmycip or follow him on twitter @theRealGimmyC.

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