Arts & Entertainment

'Last Comic Standing' comedian to come back for New Year's shows

Pay no attention to what you read about comedian Dante on his website. "It's all a bunch of crap and mostly untrue," he said in an interview with the Herald.

Especially the part about his dream of being a pirate when he was a kid.

"That is so not true," Dante said with a hearty guffaw. "The guy who wrote (the bio) for me thought it would be funny. I never wanted to be a pirate and never will. Guess I should remember to tell him to take that out."

But the part about wanting to be a comic since he was a kid is nothing but the truth, he said. "I've been trying to make people laugh my whole life," he said.

Dante started out in the 1990s, and during the past several years has opened for Richard Pryor, Robin Williams, Kid Rock, Smash Mouth, BB King, Santana. He also won numerous awards from BET during his early career when he appeared on the show Blackberry Inn.

"I was probably the most famous white comic on BET back then," Dante said.

These days he divides his time between acting gigs and stand-up comedy shows. He also is working on the soon-to-be-released film The Underground Comedy, which has an all-star cast that includes Adrian Brody, Rob Schneider and Lindsay Lohan.

"I really have equal love for both film work and stand up," Dante said. "Acting is a lot of fun, but I can't picture myself not doing my stand-up act either."

The last time Dante performed in the Tri-Cities was last summer, when he performed a two-night gig, both of which sold out, at Jokers Comedy Club in Richland.

He'll return to Jokers for another two nights of comedy Dec. 31 and Jan. 1.

Dante and his longtime girlfriend Rebekah Kochan, who usually opens his shows, have fond memories of their last visit here.

They research the towns they perform in and try to find something to poke fun at that relates to that community.

"We have our regular routines and we also do a lot of ad-libbing," Dante said. "Rebekah and I are not that dirty with our comedy, though sometimes we do talk trash, but we're not obnoxious.

"And what I really like about the people who love comedy in your town is that they're not sensitive to what a comic talks about. You have a fun party town there. It's why we like to stick around and party with people after the shows. We've made a lot of friends there."

Dante has performed in comedy clubs all over the world and is the kind of comic who can match his humor with any audience, whether it's conservative or sassy and irreverent.

He was a finalist in the Last Comic Standing TV show in 2007 but lost in the final round.

"I really thought I had won that contest," Dante said. "I was disappointed, but when I look back on it I think it was a blessing because I had just met Rebekah. And had I won I would have had to leave immediately for a tour and never would have had the chance to fall in love with her.

"I guess life works out like it should."

So the comic can stop clowning around long enough to be romantic?

"Oh yeah, I'm a true romantic at heart, and I'm not ashamed of that, either," he said.

Tickets to Dante's shows are $20 each night, which includes New Year's Eve party favors for the Dec. 31 show. Advance tickets are available at Jokers, 624 Wellsian Way, Richland. Or call 943-1173.

*Dori O'Neal: 582-1514;