For Anthony Rodia, comedy isn’t an act. “I don’t go on stage and think, All right I have to put the act on now. I don’t have an off switch,” says Rodia. “I don’t know how to not be funny or how to be serious all the time. My mom has footage of me as a six-year-old imitating relatives, and I would always take what someone said and twist it into something funny.”
This natural predilection toward humor has served the comedian well. Born and raised in New Rochelle, Rodia now sports well over a million followers across various social media platforms. Much of this is due to his growth during the pandemic, when Rodia invented his two most popular characters: the wise talking Uncle Vinny and his wife, Zia Lucia, as well as weekly comedy streams, Road Rage Wednesdays.
However, Rodia wasn’t always a comedian. He left a lucrative job as a finance manager to launch his standup career in 2019. “I’m psychotic,” says Rodia with a laugh. “You have to be psychotic to do that, since anyone in their right mind would never get into the entertainment business. I had a good job; I was making great money. But I’ve never been the type of person to say my life is going to be defined by how much money I make.”
It was a good choice for Rodia, who now sells out venues across the country. Those who attend his February 17 show at Port Chester’s Capitol Theatre should prepare for some serious levity. “I don’t just want you laughing at my shows,” says Rodia. “I want you waking up the next morning thinking you did an hour of crunches the night before. I am not going to allow someone to listen to the same material. So, I’ll include the classic stories — maybe 20 minutes’ worth — and then you are always going to get about 30 or 40 minutes of new stuff.”
“I don’t know how to not be funny or how to be serious all the time. My mom has footage of me as a six-year-old imitating relatives, and I would always take what someone said and twist it into something funny.”
In addition to his touring schedule, Rodia has a podcast, Little Bit of Laughs, which he hosts alongside local radio star Goumba Johnny. Rodia also launched his own wine company, Rodia Wines, featuring blends named after his sidesplitting characters.
Yet despite his many ventures, comedy remains firmly front-and-center for the star, who recently created his own standup special, slated to debut this year. “We are shopping it right now to different platforms,” says Rodia. “I financed it, produced it, and directed it. It came out phenomenally, and it was [filmed] at The Paramount in Huntington.”
For Rodia, the need to make people smile extends beyond fame or fortune. “I used to think comedy was just laughs,” says Rodia. “But I read emails from fans ‘til 3 in the morning and I will get messages that say, ‘Hey, Anthony, I’ve been in the hospital for the last six months and I have three months to live, and your comedy gives me the only laughs I get during the day’; or ‘my mom just passed away’; or ‘I just lost a child, and your videos give me an escape from what I’m going through.’ And when I started reading those letters, the passion I had for comedy skyrocketed because some people don’t just want to laugh — some of them need to.”