Arts & Entertainment

Dante to perform at grand opening of Elbow Room

Comedian Dante is coming to town to help a friend introduce a new comedy club to Tri-City humor fans.

The last time this Italian funnyman performed here was in 2011, and his shows packed the house at Jokers in Richland.

This time, however, Dante will be the headliner at the grand opening of The Elbow Room comedy club in Kennewick, which is co-owned and operated by Bobby Quiring, who used to manage the Richland comedy club. Showtimes are 7 p.m. July 12-13.

The Elbow Room is at 3320 W. Kennewick Ave. Cover is $15.

Dante will share the spotlight with his longtime girlfriend and fellow comedian Rebekah Kochan. Kochan will warm up the crowd for about 20 minutes, then Dante takes the stage to finish up the two-hour set.

"We're looking forward to coming up your way again," Dante said in telephone interview. "Both Rebekah and I love Bobby and the Tri-Cities. The audiences there are great, and we're excited that Bobby is opening up his own place."

Dante's full name is Jay Dante Rusciolelli, but he figures that long Italian name wasn't necessary to use in the entertainment world.

Though comedy is his forte, he doesn't pigeonhole his talents on the circuit. He also does a lot of acting as well as writes material for Fashion Police with Joan Rivers on the E! channel.

"I'm not writing for Joan right now because about 12 of us who write for her show are on strike," Dante said. "It's fun writing for Joan, and our battle is not with her but with E!"

Dante and Kochan are in the movie Inappropriate Comedy, which was released in March and was directed by Vince Offer. The movie stars Adrian Brody, Lindsey Lohan and Rob Schneider.

"The movie is pretty funny, and I think it's coming out on video on demand this month," Dante said. "I've also been writing a lot of the material for Vince Offer's commercials for Sham Wow and Schticky, and I wrote the screenplay for the indie film, Bro, What Happened, which is sort of like Superbad meets The Hangover."

He also co-produced and directed some of the commercials for Offer's cleaning products.

Dante says he's always wanted to be a comedian and has been trying to make people laugh since he was a kid growing up in Ridgecrest, Calif.

He also says he's a huge supporter of American military and performs regularly at U.S. military bases around the world.

He has been a comedian since 1986, and was named the season 5 winner in NBC's Last Comic Standing. He also holds the record for winning the most comedy awards ever presented to a single comedian at the BET Comedy Awards.

He has opened for Richard Pryor, Robin Williams, Milton Berle, BB King, Santana and Macy Gray, as well as Weird Al Yankovich.

Kochan has been featured in 15 horror films as well as several comedies. She and Dante met in 2007, and the two have been a couple ever since.

"Rebekah and I have also produced a series of six DVDs called Dante Presents," he said. "Each one is one hour on a different topic. There's the Crippled Kings of Comedy, which is a hilarious hour of comedy by some of the funniest handicapped comics. They're all available on Amazon."

Dante and Kochan will have all sorts of new material to test out on Tri-City audiences. Most of it is R-rated because of language, minus the gross stuff, Dante said.

"This is an adult humor show and anything goes, but neither Rebekah or I go overboard," he said.

-- Dori O'Neal: 582-1514;; Twitter: @dorioneal