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A funny man with teeth: Dom Irrera

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Dom Irrera.
Dom Irrera

After coming to Las Vegas for more than 20 years, comedian Dom Irrera has learned a few things about this town.

Like if a beautiful woman asks if you want to party, she’ll expect you to pay for it – and we’re not just talking about a few rounds of Patron.

“I think one of the funniest things about Vegas is … when you don’t know if somebody’s working or not,” he said.

Irrera admits he was “so naïve” when he first started coming to Vegas.

“I met this beautiful woman at a bar, and she says to me, ‘Do you want to party?’ and I go, ‘Yeah!!’

He laughs as he recalls the exchange.

Calendar

Dom Irrerra with guests Mike Saccone and Lisa Mende
Riviera Comedy Club
Showtimes: 8:30 and 10:30 p.m.
Tickets: $24.99 (general admission)
Beyond the Weekly
Dom Irrera
Riviera Comedy Club

“I had no idea she was talking about me paying for it,” he said.

Older and wiser, Irrera is back in town tonight to start a six-night stint at the Riviera, along with fellow funnyman Mike Saccone and Irrera’s ex-wife-turned-opening-act, Lisa Mende.

Seinfeld fans will recognize Mende as “Carol” from her one-time appearance on the show years ago.

“She was the mother of the ugly baby,” Irrera explained.

Irrera also had a role in an episode of the now-legendary show. Though his character was less memorable than his former wife’s, he can still be seen on re-runs as watergun-toting “Ronnie Kaye.”

“I played the prop comic on this episode called ‘The Fire’ where Jason Alexander (a.k.a. George Costanza) keeps punking out on everything,” he said.

Irrera’s acting isn’t limited to the small screen: He has had several roles on the big screen, too, including a small part he wrote for the Cohen brothers’ classic, The Big Lebowski.

Though his character’s role was minor – he played a limo driver – he said the notoriety he remains to get from the show is incredible.

“They’re so crazy, the fans, they’re like Trekkies,” he said.

He said there is one major difference between Trekkies and Lebowski fans, however: “They’re like Trekkies that only have one Star Trek episode, so everything’s limited to that one show.”

(Editor’s Note: For the record, Lebowski fan conventions are also way more fun – even without the fake Spock ears – and their bowling nights tend to blow “Star Trek 5-pin” out of the water, too.)

As far as Irrera’s stand-up goes, he admits it’s offensive but insists he’s an “equal-opportunity offender.”

“I’ll do racial stuff, I’ll do ethnic stuff. I was one of the first white comedians to really mimic Def Jam comedians on television, and I got away with it because of the way I approach it,” he said.

“You can say certain words; it’s all according to your attitude,” he figures.

Irrera thinks every comic has the same goal – be funny – but it’s how each comedian gets the belly laughs that sets them apart.

And for Irrera, that “how” can be both searing and silly.

“I want to insult them in a fun way,” he said.

Despite his efforts, however, the veteran comic said he finds himself in a lose-lose – or is it win-win? – situation.

“I’ve had people come up to me (and ask), “Man, how come you don’t talk badly about the Puerto Ricans?’ … They feel left out if I’m not mocking them.”

Dom Irrera appears at the Riviera Comedy Club tonight through Sunday.

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Melissa Arseniuk

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