Anger. Anxiety. Attention deficit disorder. Narcissism. Insecurity.They’re qualities a lot of fathers may have. Joe Matarese does, for one. But he’s been working on that. Being married to a psychologist might have made him more aware of his neuroses than most, but the quest to avoid passing down these less desirable traits to his son is his own.
He’ll spend the eve of his fourth Father’s Day in Scranton sharing his story in the form of a relatively new one-man show, Fixing Joe.
A native of Cherry Hill, N.J., Matarese has enjoyed his own Comedy Central special and has performed on The Late Show with David Letterman. He’s also a regular on E!’s Chelsea Lately.
Like his stand-up comedy, Fixing Joe is entirely autobiographical. It’s different from that material, however, in that it offers more of a story with multimedia enhancements – pictures, music and sound effects.
“It’s got a little more heart to it,” he said, comparing it to the Christopher Titus Showtime special Norman Rockwell is Bleeding.
And he’s not expecting any hecklers in the audience at the Electric Theatre Company.
Scranton-based comedian Paul Spratt was taking Matarese’s class at the Stress Factory in New Brunswick, N.J. for the second time when he invited his teacher to perform at a cancer benefit in The Electric City.
It was close to zero degrees, but the comedian was impressed with the amazing quesadillas – thick like pizza – he had at a bar across from the Lackawanna County Prison (Andy Gavin’s, we presume). The prison, with its castle-like appearance, further made an impression. When Spratt suggested he contact ETC’s former producing artistic director David Zarko about staging his one-man show, Matarese was game.
Based on his weekly podcast of the same name, Fixing Joe has previously been staged in Indianapolis and New York City. Ultimately, he’d like to see the show enjoy a longer run in New York.
“If you’re Billy Crystal you can do a show anywhere you want, whenever you want. Or if you’re John Leguizamo, people will pay to see you practice,” he pointed out.
Describing himself as an “Italian Richard Lewis,” Matarese told us about a cruise he took recently with his father.
“It was just him and me for eight days in a small room together. And everything I do that I hate about me, he was doing,” Matarese said. “My wife â¦ said there’s a name for it – exposure therapy. I spent eight days being exposed to myself and I was like, ‘Oh my god, I hate me. I don’t want my son to be this way. I don’t want him to be anxious and need to take a Xanax if there’s a little white water out the window on a cruise or if the flight gets a little bumpy. I want him to be able to relax.’
“It might be in his genes, because it seems like everybody in my family has an anxiety problem. But I’m the only one that talks about it. They think they’re fine.”
- alicia grega
Fixing Joe runs Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. at Electric Theatre Company on Spruce Street in Scranton. Tickets are $25 or $20 for seniors and $15 for students. Call 558-1515 for reservations or visit joematarese.com for video clips and a link to his podcast.