Comedian Pat Cooper has hit some of the biggest stages and performed on numerous popular TV shows, from The Jackie Gleason Show in 1963 to The Howard Stern Show, The Late Show with David Letterman and Seinfeld, and is no stranger to the big screen, appearing in Analyze This and Analyze That alongside Robert DeNiro. The 83-year-old comedian will now bring his act to Smithtown as he is set to perform Sunday at the .
Cooper spoke with Patch about his show, the difficulties of being an Italian comedian, his memoir How Dare You Say How Dare Me!, and more.
What brings you to Smithtown?
I will be there in person, not like the last time I came there in drag. It’s my third time in a year working that theater because nobody else wants to work it I think (laughs).
It’s a wonderful theater, it’s the old kind of theater we should never take down, it’s just wonderful.
What can people expect from a Pat Cooper show?
They expect me to show up and be funny and if I’m not funny they won’t come and see you no more and the word gets out and that’s the end of that. I have a job to do, I’m obligated to my character and to my dignity to do a show and I’ve never turned away from that. I owe the show, they owe me nothing. If they pay to see me then I’ll go out of my way to make sure they go home happy.
I’ve been very successful, I’m 83 years old, and I don’t know how much more I’ve got but if I’m going to die in Smithtown that’s OK too. It’s either that or Lake Ronkonkoma and the reason I don’t want to die in Lake Ronkonkoma, I can’t spell Ronkonkoma (laughs).
Please talk about your memoir, How Dare You Say How Dare Me!
I never brag and I tell you like a brother, it’s the best thing I’ve done in my career. I’ve never wanted to write a book and the reason I wrote one was because I read other books that had nothing to say, people in their thirties writing their life stories when they haven’t lived yet. I got a little bit annoyed and my friend Steve Garrin who is my partner, he said come in the studio, I was there for about 50 hours in about a month or so, thank God he put it together because he has that talent from a-to-z, the book’s got a great flow, it’s got stories that people cannot believe that I’ve lived through this and it’s not looking to sell the book for money – money I’ve got. I want to sell the book to leave it before I die so they say, ‘you know what, this guy wrote one hell of a book.’ It’s not only a great entertaining book, it’s a book about an Italian who they said could not have a sense of humor, was not allowed to have a sense of humor, how dare he have a sense of humor, because in an Italian family if you sang off-key you were another [Enrico] Caruso, but if you turned around and you were funny there was something wrong with your mental attitude. It was called disrespect and I lived through that and I became the number one comic in the country for a few years and I’m still around at 83 years old so I have no complaints.
What are you up to these days?
I’m breathing. People say, ‘what do you do for a hobby,’ and I say, ‘I rehearse dying.’ I’m 83 years old, it’s over, the ship didn’t sail, it sunk (laughs).