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Brian Scolaro on Mad Men, dramatic roles

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In addition to being a standup comic, Brian Scolaro is what folks in Hollywood call a working actor. He’s done guest roles on a wide variety of TV series, including The Wizards of Waverly Place, The Middle, and Mad Men.

“I’ve been lu cky enough to have theatrical agents who are very good at getting me in for a lot of things comics don’t get in for, like Mad Men,” he says.  

Scolaro is a native New Yorker. “I was raised in Brooklyn and Queens pretty much at the base of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, and started doing comedy in Manhattan.” In 2001, he landed a role on an NBC sitcom called Three Sisters. The show, a mid-season replacement, was picked up for the fall of 2001. “It was written by the girls who went on to write The Middle on ABC, so it was a good show,” he says.

The only problem was the first full season debuted after 9/11. “People really weren’t into watching television that much, they just wanted to be with their families. Our show was on before Frasier, which was a big hit, of course, but our lead-in was Emeril.” He laughs at that notion. “Remember when Emeril Lagasse had a sitcom? I guess that was another reason we didn’t do so well.”

The experience lasted long enough, though, for Scolaro to embrace acting. “It was actually my favorite character that I ever played over all these years,” he states. “They wrote me as real a person. A lot of times you get on TV and if you’re a fat guy, you’re playing the fat guy. If you’re the handsome guy, you’re playing the handsome guy. I was the father on Three Sisters, and he was a regular guy. He had ups and downs, he had wants and fears. They gave me great story arch. It was tremendous fun. I learned to act on NBC, and I was very happy with that.”

Guest starring on Mad Men in the episode “A Little Kiss, Part 2” (season 5, episode 2), Scolaro got to sink his teeth into a dramatic role. “I went and auditioned and it was all very mysterious,” he recalls.

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“When you auditioned for that show, they didn’t tell you what the scenes were. The character’s names were all changed, and you didn’t know what you were reading.”

When he told the producers he wasn’t quite sure what was going on in the scene, they told him not to worry about it but told him to be “more New York, more low class.” Scolaro reasoned that they just wanted to see if he could indeed act.

One thing that surprised him about Mad Men was that he wasn’t allowed to improvise. “My line was, ‘You’re a real gentleman,’ and I said, ‘You’re a, you’re a real gentleman,’ and they told me the line is just, ‘You’re a real gentleman.’”

He did get to ad lib, albeit silently. “I got to stare at a guy angrily, and then he got scared. They told me to make that reaction longer, so I created something that wasn’t on the page. I was thrilled.”

IF YOU GO:

Brian Scolaro

Acme Comedy Co.

708 N. First St., Minneapolis

8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday; 10:30 Friday and Saturday

Tickets are $15-$33.

For more info call 612-338-6393 or visit www.acmecomedycompany.com