It’s not easy becoming a professional comedian. Try doing it while working full time on the NYPD. Comedian Mark DeMayo did just that. The retired detective, now 46, is working on his one-man show 20 & Out named after the phrase describing officers who retire after twenty years on the force. The hilarious New York born and raised comic progresses his career further with this show by sharing stories of his days on the force. With both careers demanding full time attention, DeMayo was able to balance one with the other and it paid off.
Appearing at The People’s Improv Theater as part of their Solocom NYC comedy series, DeMayo and his opener Mark Giordano presented a packed house with some very entertaining personal stories. Story telling as form of stand up can be the most difficult to perform, but it’s a challenge DeMayo accepts. With 20 years on the force, DeMayo had plenty of source material working alongside with New York’s Finest. From his early days a rookie, to joining the warrant squad, summoning the strength to working through September 11th, and finally becoming a detective and interrogator, the audience got to experience NYPD life from a funny and honest perspective.
Right from the start, the audience eagerly applauded DeMayo’s entrance from his introduction. To the audience, DeMayo is a friend, a fellow comic, or simply a fan favorite. Some knew of DeMayo’s performances as a stand up and looked forward to seeing how he expanded material into a new type of show. His energy draws people toward him, and one can only root for a likable comedian who never comes off above his audience. He’s the everyman who happened to work as police officer and moonlighted as an entertainer. ”I had an interest outside the job,” DeMayo says, “I did my job. I did what I was supposed to do, but I wasn’t the guy they were making movies about.” DeMayo asked the audience right away if he looked like a cop but admitted more like an 80s cop seen on the show TJ Hooker. Any intimidation (if any) by the 6’4” comedian was alleviated and the crowd knew they were in for a treat.
DeMayo began with a stories of his early days on the force. An early tale was about having to commandeer a vehicle while walking the beat as a rookie. With excitement, DeMayo responds he is on the case but realizes the scene of the crime was no where in walking distance. As to not look foolish by answering back that he is too far to make to the scene, DeMayo pulls a French Connection and commandeers a vehicle. Hilarity ensues as this moment could have been a better episode of Car 54 Where Are You?. Advancing from rookie status, DeMayo joined the warrant squad. DeMayo became sought after in the department for the way he was able to get “perps” (or perpetrators) to answer the door. Coming from the streets in New York, DeMayo knew a thing or two about hiphop. In fact, when he was younger, DeMayo used to break dance with “The Nasty With Rock Crew” and went by the moniker “Kid Fresh”. The key to getting perps to answer the door was by using what he calls “The Ghetto Knock”. It’s a knock that is reminiscent of the UTFO hit “Roxanne Roxanne” and it worked every time.
A sobering point in the show was when DeMayo described his time on the force during September 11th. The toughest part about working during the time of 9/11 was the specific duty assinged to DeMayo and the warrant squad. They were asked to collect personal items containing DNA that could help in the search of people lost during the attacks. Reflecting on this time, a person can see the emotion DeMayo did his best to hold back. Although it was a break from the laughter, the dramatic aspect of this particular tale gave 20 & Out an honest feel to DeMayo’s work in the force. Police work overall was something that had its rough times, and DeMayo and his fellow officers depended on humor to work through times. With dignity and professionalism, DeMayo was able to transition back into the humorous stories with respect to the his and fellow officer’s work during the tragic period.
The second half of DeMayo’s career in the force brought new experiences that gave him more recollections for the stage. Working as a detective, DeMayo found himself having to interrogate people with the help of a partner. Being the “good cop”, DeMayo’s ability to come off as relaxed and laid back much like his stage presence today, got suspects to talk. Still, DeMayo, while pursuing stand up five nights a week after working his shift, was eager to do a little work as possible. Finally in 2012, after twenty years to the day he joined the force, DeMayo retired achieving his twenty and out. He was faced with a new choice: if he couldn’t work full time as comedian, he would have to find work in security. To his success, DeMayo in a year’s time, has only worked security once. It occurred right after Hurricane Sandy, and his assignment was to guard none other than Leonardo DiCaprio. As described by Mark, somehow DiCaprio had a way of turning the well trained and very towering DeMayo into Judy Jetson. The story of his work guarding Leonardo DiCaprio is one a person must see for themselves. To give a hint, the experience found DeMayo reliving Kevin Costner’s roll in The Bodyguard.
Mark DeMayo is no stranger to the stage. Before starting as comic, he was a student at H.B. Studios, a member of the Thirteenth Street Theater Company, and appeared regularly on As the World Turns. After seeing an ad in backstage, DeMayo auditioned for Doc Livingston’s comedy troupe. The first show was at Brooklyn’s Palm Court, where the following week new host Donnell Rawlings took over. With Rawling’s as host, DeMayo and many greats were asked back constantly to take to the stage. He gained solid experience in this urban room and saw legends such as Dave Chappelle and Tracy Morgan work on their craft. Wanting to be a well rounded comedian who can adapt to various audiences, DeMayo got on stage as much as he can where ever he could. With keen insight he sates, “Just because you love something, doesn’t mean it’s gotta love you back.” His work ethic shows a person can get back as much as they put into it. He was featured on the comedy specials “White Boyz in the Hood“, Jamie Foxx’s “Laffapalooza Comedy Festival” and was even heard on 98.7 KISS FM.
After splitting time as a detective by day, comedian at night, and husband and father 24/7, DeMayo, in retirement from the force, is asked to perform nightly. He has come along way from listening to comedy albums by Redd Foxx, Richard Pryor, Steve Martin, Bob Newhart, Woody Allen, and Freddie Prince. Now, DeMayo performs his one-man show 20 & Out to document his experience as a former detective. It’s a tribute to his time on the job and the camaraderie he had with his friends on the force. Much like working for the NYPD, DeMayo sees similarities in stand up, “You’re working [as an officer], and you see a group of people down the block. You’re outnumbered, and you’re boss is like, ‘Well, let’s go down there and see what happens.’ You got your baton in your hand, and you gotta disperse the crowd.You’re heart is pumping, you’re hoping for the best, and that’s the same exact feeling you have in comedy.” Whether it was his time wearing the shield or performing stand up, Mark DeMayo proves he is one New York’s finest. To find out where DeMayo is performing next, check out his website www.markdemayo.com.