Jonny Loquasto: More to the Story
Taylor Harrington 8/12/2021 4:17pm EST
Jonny Loquasto is a stand-up comedian whose special, Physical Therapy, is now available to stream on major platforms! Loquasto uses his years of experience as a physical therapist to connect with his audience in a way that will leave you rolling on the floor in laughter and scheduling your next PT appointment. Physical Therapy is available for free now on The Roku Channel, Xumo, and Tubi!
We are here today with the one and only master comedian and physical therapist, Jonny Loquasto. Thank you so much for being here today, Jonny!
Thank you, Taylor. I would say master comedian– let’s go with trying-hard comedian. Let’s make it more realistic. I think that’s fair. I think we’ll go with that one.
Your comedy special was just released onto The Roku Channel, and it is called Jonny Loquasto: Physical Therapy. What can you tell me about Physical Therapy?
The phrase is very cliche, the whole “long time coming” thing, but that’s really what this is. I started stand-up for the first time in 2005 and then I shot the special in November of 2018. As the editing process was just about to be finished, six months later, I had basically a dream job opportunity that took me to the opposite side of the country, and that’s all I wanted to focus on. So I said, ‘You know what, I’m gonna put the special on the shelf.’ This is my baby. This is my, I don’t know, I guess I’ll call it my Grand Opus over the past thirteen or fourteen years. It’s my love letter to comedy, physical therapy, and wrestling, so I put it on the shelf. I couldn’t put this special out when I’m not able to put 100% behind promoting it, and all of my heart into it. My director wasn’t thrilled understandably so because she’s a genius and she’s brilliant, and she wanted the world to see it. Then, when the pandemic hit unfortunately that dream job was taken away, so I reached out to my director again. We were talking, we’re like family, and said, “Why don’t we try to do something with the special.” So she reached out to a couple of distribution companies, we got a couple of offers, and looked over them to find the one offer we’d liked the best. That process started 10, almost 11 months ago, the process of final touches on the editing, fixing a couple of things, rearranging some stuff, whatever. Tori had the finished product ready to go, it was Thanksgiving weekend, and then they move on into trying to sell it and trying to reach out to different platforms, quality control, and all this stuff that I’ve never been through before. All with the hope that some platforms are going to pick it up, all while having no clue when the special would actually get out to the public. So you and I have been talking for what? Four months?
Yeah, at least, at least.
We found out about a month ago, maybe six weeks ago, that Roku said yes, which was huge! That felt so good. We also found out Tubi said yes, and also Xumo, which I wasn’t aware of Xumo, but I guess it’s a fairly popular streaming service. When you’re not chosen to do a special by say, Netflix, when you’re DIY and you’re going through the whole process yourself with your small little team, you have no idea what’s going to happen, which is exciting but also can be a little frustrating at times, because you just don’t know.
Now it’s out there and people can find it on the Roku channel. That’s how I watched it., and I was laughing from beginning to end, sometimes uncomfortably. The name of your special is Physical Therapy, are you still an acting physical therapist?
Oh yeah. I mean, here’s the thing. When the pandemic hit, I was still at the dream job and when I got that taken away, I was only halfway into my contract and I had moved across the country. I had just moved into a new place two days before it happened because no one really saw a lot of this coming. I got my physical therapy license transferred to where I was at, and I said, “You know what? It’s a pandemic. Hospitals are struggling. Most of my experience over the years was in hospitals. I’m going to go back and I want to go help, I want to work.” When I got back there, they said they needed some PTs to be able to work with COVID patients. I decided I would do it, I’ve just got to be really careful. So yeah, I did that, and I’ve been back on the frontline for about 10 and a half months now. I was at the hospital earlier this week when I on Instagram that the special was out. I was literally in the middle of my shift, I just took a break, and I’m like, ‘Well, here goes nothing.’ When you have a crazy schedule, you just find ways to segment your time and get things done, but it can be a little hectic for sure.
So now are you just going to be a little fairy at the hospital and drop off Rokus to every room and then like sneakily turning on your special?
I wish! I collected about 25 emails from co-workers because many people I already knew were excited to see it, but other people had no clue. You have to kind of pick and choose who the cool people are who would actually want to see it. I did a pretty good job of that because a lot of people A) had no idea that I was a comedian, or B) that I worked in professional wrestling. No one had any clue. I know how to separate, you know what I mean? People were pleasantly surprised, but my goal is to get this special out to the healthcare community. There are only a few comedians out there who are healthcare professionals, one and two physical therapists, but no one’s ever put out a comedy special called Physical Therapy with physical therapy stories. I have had a lot of nurses who have watched it and they can totally relate, so I’m really dedicating a special to not only people who love comedy but really, healthcare professionals in general because it’s been a crazy year for people working in healthcare.
Absolutely. That’s a great way to connect with the people that have been giving back so much to the community. I myself have done in-home healthcare before and you definitely have to find the comedy in your daily job when you’re in the healthcare profession, otherwise, it can be daunting and it can get depressive and sad. You can turn that around and just make people smile and laugh, and that’s what you’re doing. It’s so great that this special is out there for everyone to enjoy, but especially for people in the healthcare community.
That’s the interesting thing about it. I’ve been doing stand-up off and on for fifteen-plus years, but it took me about 10 years to figure out how to do healthcare material on stage. The general audience who doesn’t work in health care, they might not get it. It just took me a long time to kind of figure out what stories or what experiences would actually work. Then the more I got comfortable doing it, the more stuff starts kind of coming to your brain, like, ‘Oh, this might work or this might work.’ I wanted to make sure I had enough healthcare in there, but at the same time, I can’t make my entire special about healthcare, you know what I mean? It’s sixty-two minutes total, and I’d say almost a third of it is healthcare driven, but I think anyone can relate to it and enjoy the stories. That’s hopefully what came out.
Absolutely. How did you first get into comedy?
I grew up loving comedy. The show In Living Color is still my driving force behind everything I do, even though that’s sketch comedy, it just hit me at the right time in childhood where I’d never seen anything like it. It was just the smartest show on television and it overstepped boundaries. It had characters that will live forever, and if you look at the cast of In Living Color, damn near all of them went on to superstardom. How many shows can you say about that? You can’t say that about many shows, and plus, I was a fat kid. When you grow up as a fat kid if you don’t develop a sense of humor, yeah, you’re gonna be struggling. As far as starting stand-up, I moved across the country with some friends and I was trying to hang on to a long-distance relationship that did not work. I figured I’ve got nothing else to lose, why not try stand up? So I saw there was a class at the Irvine Improv way back in the day, so I took a six-week class. We did a graduation show in front of the friendliest audience in history, so you think you’re the greatest for six minutes, and then those of us who continue to do stand up, we realize how much we actually suck for a long time. Most people quit, but people like me are too stubborn and just keep on doing it and eventually try to find their voice. That’s kind of what led to this, but as far as the special being so different, I’ve got to attribute that to In Living Color once again. I just love variety. My album is the same way. It had sketches, songs, commercials, infomercials, intros, and outros. I grew up listening to Chris Rock Roll With the New. Gosh, there’s all the Adam Sandler albums, stuff like that, you know? When it came time to do the special, my biggest gripe with comedy specials these days is they’re just not creative. Like I get it, it’s got to be about the person on stage, I completely understand that, but there aren’t that many comedy specials that are memorable anymore. Most of them are already coming from famous people, so I looked at it this way- If I’m honest with myself, most people don’t know who I am. They don’t know my comedy so I’m going to make a special that shows you exactly who I am. My exact life, and to a certain extent, and I want people to remember certain things. You don’t have to remember every joke, but I want you to look at this and be like, ‘well, damn, he made an effort.’ It’s interesting because when I finished the special, I sent it to a friend at Netflix and he’s like, “Look the special is great. Number one, though, Netflix is only doing their own stuff now. They’re producing their own specials.” I said, “I get that, I just want your feedback.” He’s like, “Well, I can tell you this. If Netflix were to say yes, they would automatically tell you to get rid of your entire four-minute sketch upfront.” I was like, “Why?” He’s like, “Well, our analytics show that most audiences, if they don’t see the comedian on the stage within the first 30 seconds, will turn it off.” I said, “Cool. I don’t want that. I want the people that are looking for creativity, that are looking for heart, that are looking for effort, people that want to see something different.” I’m tired of seeing comedy specials that start off with, “And please welcome to the stage” and then it ends with “All right, good night” and that’s it. I’m sorry, that’s just not my brand of comedy. That’s not what I like. I think there’s got to be something more in there, and so that’s what I did.
It was such a fun intro, it really does pull you into the rest of the special. Also, if you would have taken that out, we would have missed all those little snippets of smaller humor that we get on the way into the comedy act. I totally appreciate the story beforehand, and it wouldn’t have been the same show if you had taken it out.
Thank you. I appreciate that. I wanted to make sure that the sketch made sense. I didn’t want people to feel like they’re wasting any time. I feel like over the 62 minutes or whatever it is, there’s not a wasted second. I wanted this opening sketch not only to tell a story but to have punch lines because I know for a fact I knew no other physical therapist had ever put out a comedy special centered around a physical therapist. I’ve still been a PT for the majority of my comedy career, and the majority of my wrestling career, and I love it. I love working with people. I love helping people out. Luckily, I have a lot of talented friends who were willing to be in it. Like I said, my director is a genius. We used my friends physical therapy clinic for the one scene, and we used the Whitefire Theatre in Sherman Oaks, California for the other part of the scene. We shot at the Brea Improv and then the commercials we shot at my editor’s green screen studio. I have a brilliant friend who just knows how to edit on green screen and he made all three of the commercials, if you will, so I couldn’t be more proud of it. I know, subjective. It’s not going to be for everyone, and that’s completely cool, but I do believe anyone who watches it will say, ‘hey, at least it was different.’
It’s different, and it is funny. You are funny, and I know that might be hard to hear or take, but that’s why you’re doing this, right?
Yeah, look, I’ll take all the compliments I can get, man. If someone watches that special, they go, “Hey, at least he tried.” I’ll take it. You know what I mean? That’s a compliment to me. I’m so happy with how it came out and you know, some things happen for a reason. Obviously, life has been weird for everyone over the past almost a year and a half, but I’m so grateful that the special is out there. Gosh, I had no idea how easy it was to watch Roku. I never had Roku before. You can just download the channel for free and boom, pops right up. It’s incredible. I love it.
Yeah. You’re scrolling through and you’re right there! I’m like, ‘Well, yep, there’s Jonny!”
I’ve had people messaging me from elementary school who had no idea what I was doing in life, I’ve had a really amazing singer that I worked a cruise ship with about three or four years ago message me on Facebook, she goes, ‘Oh, my husband, and I just found you on Roku. We’re watching right now.’ It’s the coolest thing when you have people hitting you up that are just on Roku and it’s that easy to find you, you know? It’s one of those things where I have no idea what’s going to happen. I made sure I took expectations off of what I couldn’t control because I’ve done that in the past, we all have, and you just end up pissed off, you end up disappointed. The only expectation I put is on how great I can make my special and how meticulous and detailed that can be. Beyond what happens now, all I can do is have fun promoting it, talking to amazing people like you trying to get the word out. Beyond that, you just got to kind of let it go out into the universe and see what happens.
Just get the word out there and keep pushing it out because so many people are really, truly going to enjoy this. From there, you might be getting a call from Netflix and you’ll be like, “I’m only doing it if I get to do my intro”, and you get to tell them how to run it.
If Netflix calls me about anything, they’ll probably be like, “Hey, you owe us $9.99, dammit!” Hey, if they would have put me on the back end, I’m totally okay with that. Whatever they want to do, but I’m super happy with where we’re at. We’re still waiting on a few more platforms, but yeah, Roku, Tubi and Xumo. Hey, I can’t complain about that at all.
That’s the way to do it! So speaking of finding your voice and everything, you’re the voice of wrestling. How did you get into the wrestling world in the first place?
I’m a lifelong fan, number one. It’s just something I didn’t know how to necessarily to get into it. I started stand-up in 2005, and then in 2010, I was hosting this entertainment project. I just started talking with the camera guy about wrestling and a couple of months later, I get a call from a gentleman. His name is David Marquez, and he said, “Hey, I want to meet with you at a Starbucks. I may have an opportunity for you.” Okay, so we met at a Starbucks in Sherman Oaks, and he said, “I’m starting a weekly professional wrestling television show based in Los Angeles. I need someone to do interviews, I’ve seen your work. Our camera guy, a mutual friend, told me about you. Do you want to do it?” I was like, “Yep!” He goes, “I can’t promise where it’s gonna go. I can’t promise you’re gonna make any money.” I started doing interviews for a couple of years backstage, whatever, whatever. One thing leads to another one and a couple of days before taping, I find out I’m gonna be thrown into the commentary. That was about seven years ago, I started doing color commentary. Well, then one thing leads to another and I had to do play by play, boom, get into play-by-play, and I’m just kind of learning along the way. In 2019, nine years later, I’m just plugging away. I’ve worked for other companies and I had the opportunity to go to Pakistan to do commentary for the first-ever live professional wrestling event in Pakistan’s history, which is I know, it’s wild. I got to go twice and I love that group, they’re great. They’re called the Ring of Pakistan, they’re amazing. I also got to visit the troops in the Middle East a couple times. I created a wrestling tour called the Ringside Salute where I would host it and I would bring with me five well-known professional wrestlers to the Middle East. I did that twice, but then in 2019, I was just living my life and I got a phone call and it was WWE, and they said, “There might be an opening. Can you send your stuff?” So I did. I sent you my hosting, my wrestling commentary, voiceovers, you name it. One thing leads to another, I get hired, and I move across the country. They basically said, “Hey, we know you’re a utility guy. We needed someone who could play every position.” I said, “You got it”. Over the course of that year, I had the opportunity to do play-by-play on live broadcasts, ring announcing, hosting live events, backstage interviews, and I did digital content. It was just crazy. For a whole year, I got to live that dream and experience so many amazing things. I mean, standing in the middle of Staples Center in front of 30,000 people is baffling, completely baffling. It’s been a long road, but I credit professional wrestling too, I mean, I love it, it’s my favorite form of live entertainment. That’s the funny thing, this is a comedy special, but it’s also an ode to my love of professional wrestling, and people are surprised when they’re like, “Well, how do you do both?” Well, you can’t. If you love something so much you dedicate your life to it. Look, I’m not married, I have no kids, so my career has essentially been my life, and there are parallels. If you’re a good comic, you know how to think on the fly, you know how to think quickly, and you know how to speak. Well, in wrestling commentary, you need to do that. I just know how to separate the two. I don’t take comedy into wrestling. I take them both very seriously, and I keep them very separate. That’s the number one thing that I think you need to do as a commentator, and I’m so grateful for every experience I’ve had. I’m looking forward to more because there’s still plenty more on the horizon. Right now, I’m just happy to be doing the special.
Absolutely! How can people follow you on social media to stay up to date with your projects?
I am easy to find @jquasto, or you can go to www.QuastoSpecial.com. All that really is the landing page. It just shows a couple of different posters from the special. There’s a big old ‘click’ button that takes you right to Roku. So yeah, it’s simple. You can watch it for free. Hopefully, you enjoy it and if you have any friends who like comedy, or if you’re a healthcare worker, you’ll want to pass it along. It’s really a surreal experience to be doing this after 15 years of never having a special to all of a sudden now having a special and one that I’m just like, ‘Man, this is good’. It was the coolest thing that I got to do it with my friends. There are so many friends in there, it’s like a rap album. There are so many guest stars on the special, and I love hip hop, so I’m like, ‘Yeah, I’m getting my friends involved, who wants in?’ That’s the coolest thing about it is I got to do it with a lot of really talented friends and that’s something I’ll be able to look back on and be really grateful for.
Originally from Edison, New Jersey, Taylor won the 2005 “Middlesex County Caring Award”, and hasn’t stopped caring since. When she is not writing or hosting More to the Story, Taylor can be found chasing her two mutts around Athens, Ohio where she currently resides with her husband. Moving to Appalachia has made a huge impact on her life, and she can’t wait to share some of her stories, laughs, and (mis)adventures with you!
*25% of all income made by Confessional Magazine via donations and elsewhere goes directly towards Felicia Merritt’s journey with Multiple Sclerosis. Support the Magazine: https://paypal.com/ConfessionalMagazine