Mark Viera’s Bronx tale is similar to Tracy Morgan’s story. Both comics grew up in the shadows of Yankee Stadium and used comedy as a defense mechanism.
“I’m friends with Tracy and I understand if he coped with things like I did,” Viera said while calling from his New Windsor, New York home. “I chose to entertain the guys in my neighborhood so I would get into fewer fights. I grew up funny. I didn’t have to push it but I embraced humor. When I was a kid, like around 12, I would come prepared with the material. All of that prepped me for the comedy world.”
It was similar to Morgan but the difference between the two is that the former “30 Rock” star went straight into comedy while Viera took another route. The charismatic yarnspinner became a New York City cop for five years. Viera walked a beat in the Bronx.
“That was challenging,” Viera said. “It was as tough a job as you would think it is. I was fine with it but I knew that there had to be something else out there for me. The world couldn’t hold me.”
Viera took a leave of absence and honed his comedy skills at a variety of Manhattan clubs. “I worked on things at Standup New York and Gotham,” Viera said. “I discovered that I loved it and I was meant to do stand-up.”
Viera’s material is relatable. The married father of two sons, who are 20 and 13, often draws from his own experience.
“I try to be as honest as possible with the audience,” Viera said. “The longer I’m married to my wife, the less I know her. I mean, I know her favorite movies and colors but beyond that, I’m lost. When it comes to my kids, it’s so expensive. My younger son loves basketball and he thinks he’s as good as Lebron James. He asked me for these $18 socks that he says he needs because he’s an elite player. I watch him play. He’s actually below average. I told him I’m going to buy the below average socks so it’ll be a match for him.”
Even though Viera pokes at his kids, he never demonizes them or his wife. “I don’t need to do that,” Viera said. “I have fun with comedy. I don’t need to be mean. My kids are funny. My older son doesn’t think I accurately portray him and my younger son laughs and tells him that I nailed it. It also goes the other way but nothing I do with them is mean-spirited. My humor has worked for me. It’s opened up doors.”
One of the doors that opened was a gig with the NY Kings Comedy tour, which includes Capone, Talent Harris, Rob Stapleton and Drew Fraser.
“They asked me after Gerald Kelly left a few years ago if I wanted to be part of their tour and I said yes immediately,” Viera said. “They have been doing this tour for years. It’s been amazing for me because I learned so much from each of them. They all have much more experience than me. I’ve been doing this for 15 years. Compared to those guys, I’m new. I love being around them. The camaraderie is great. It’s nothing but fun being out with these guys.”
“You get a different type of comedy with each of us,” Viera said. “You get a lot of bang for the buck. You don’t want to miss this.”
Catch the NY Kings of Comedy Tour at a city near you! Check out Mark's website for tour dates.