"I got a scholarship to kick field goals," says comedian Bryan Ricci when asked how he ended up going from his hometown of New York City to Arizona State University. "I went to the Rose Bowl with Jake Plummer and Pat Tillman. I was third string. In my act I have some good stories about being a kicker." Like the time Tillman, the late Afghan War hero and former linebacker for the Arizona Cardinals, took Ricci under his wing at ASU. Ricci was assigned number 52 in training camp. "I didn't get to pick my number. I wanted something cool like seven or three," he says. "They said, 'You're a freshman kicker from New York, you get the number we give you.'" As he walked around the practice field, he noticed the other players were going out of their way to be nice to him. "So I was suspicious. They were all giving me high-fives. Then halfway through practice Pat Tillman, one of the most amazing human beings, comes up to me and says, 'Bryan, I hate to break the news to you, but they're not being nice to you.'" The other players had put tape on the back of his jersey so it read 5'2" instead of the number 52. "I'm like five foot five. I'm thinking everyone's being so nice, and here I'm walking around with a giant 'kick me' sign on my back." He still works for Tillman's foundation to this day. Ricci considered playing football professionally by trying to be an undrafted free agent. He did get an offer from a team in the Arena Football League, but didn't accept it. "I could make more money waiting tables. So much for my degree." After compiling a list of funny observations culled from working as a preschool teacher, he went to an open mic in Tempe, and found his current vocation. These days he entertains audiences with short bits about life's foibles, and is quickly making his name as a top headliner at comedy clubs around the country. "It's nice to be able to do what you love." 18+; 21+ later shows.
Feb. 13-15, 7:30 p.m.; Feb. 15-16, 9:30 p.m.; Feb. 16-17, 7 p.m., 2013