A Pair of Nuts has left its mark on my relationship.
Specifically, whenever my girlfriend – a Miami native – asks me “Que tú haces?” I can’t help but hear it in the swishy drawl of a certain Cuban club kid advertising less boring versions of everyday products. That’s the impact of Yamil Piedra and Johnny Trabianco’s Miami based comedy duo who now, as their over sixty show tour comes to a close, stand ready to take on the world – their characters stick with you.
Where do the characters in Gayo and Colgay come from?
We’re from Miami, the land of the stereotypical effeminate Hispanic gay guys. That’s pretty much where it derives from. What’s great is how the gay community has taken a liking to these characters and aren’t offended by it. It’s all in good fun. We have a big gay following thanks to Gayo and Colgay, which is pretty cool. Here’s a Nuts’ fun fact, these characters names are Koki (Yamil) and Nene (Johnny). Oh, and expect a new product from these guys very soon!
Which is better: filming sketches or performing for a crowd?
It’s two totally different things. When we film sketches it’s normally just the 2 of us and we reach a wider audience because everyone has access to the internet. But when we perform live in front of a crowd, we get that instant reaction. In the end they both get the same results… laughs.
Between food, audiences, night life, whatever, which cities on your tour – Miami excluded – treated you the best?
To be honest, we can’t think of one city in particular that treated us best. We’ve been fortunate enough to have a live show that appeals to the masses, so it’s hard to pinpoint one particular city. We will say that performing for the troops and their families is one of the most gratifying things, no matter which city it is. They’re definitely the most appreciative of what we do. One particular military base that comes to mind is Ft. Hunter Liggett in California, about 150 miles south of San Francisco in the middle of nowhere. The lodging was in a haunted hacienda which is a historic landmark in California that dates back to the 1930s. There were jackrabbits, tarantulas, snakes, and wolves. The audience that night was amazing, the hospitality from the staff was outstanding, and the food they served us was all homemade deliciousness! Definitely one of the highlights of our 2011 tour!
And we’re big on food! We love eating at random, hole in the wall places. We try to stay away from the same ole fast food places we have in Miami and eat at places specific to whichever city we’re at. Yelp is a big help in our decision making process when it comes to selecting a place to eat.
What makes a Miami audience different from all the others?
Miami is home. They know we’re hometown boys and they’re proud of our accomplishments and how we represent our city. They’ve seen our growth as entertainers since we started in college. Wherever we perform we always say we’re from Miami. For the most part Miami is known for it’s beaches, nightlife, and beautiful people, but we want people to know that there’s also funny in Miami. It’s not just LA, NY, Boston, and Chicago that has funny. Add Miami to that list.
Where would you love to perform that you haven’t yet?
Oh man, so many places. We want to go everywhere! Chicago would be awesome. They have such a rich comedy history. Vegas would be amazing too. We can totally see our show with a huge Vegas style production. Fact: we’d be sold out every night! We’d also love to go overseas and perform for the troops. And Cuba would be awesome! We’re both Cuban, how great would it be to go perform for the people in the island?
For the most part Miami is known for it’s beaches, nightlife, and beautiful people, but we want people to know that there’s also funny in Miami.
What/who are your comedy influences?
We grew up in such a great time period for comedy where so many great comedians and comedic actors came from. There’s Steve Martin, Chevy Chase, Andy Kaufman, John Belushi, Eddie Murphy, Andre Dice Clay, Richard Pryor, John Candy, Bill Murray, Adam Sandler, Chris Farley, Phil Hartman, and the list goes on and on. Such a phenomenal list of names! And they all influenced us in one way or another.
An acting teacher of mine used to tell us the story of “The Unlicked Cub.” The story goes that a mother bear had seven cubs, and raising them ran her ragged. One day she was licking them all clean, as loving mother bears do. She licked the first one clean, the second one clean, and so on, until she got to the seventh cub. Exhausted, she had a heart attack and died before she could show him the same attention. The first six cubs were sad, but they were able to go off and have fulfilling lives.
The seventh cub went into show business.
What made you guys into comedians?
Haha, we’re definitely not that seventh cub though. We are both fortunate enough to have loving parents who were very supportive of our career all through out. Don’t get us wrong, we struggled a lot to get to where we are, and at times it’s still a struggle for us, but having that support system behind us helps keep our chins up. As far as how we got into it, when we were both in grade school we knew right away what we wanted to do. Yamil was introduced to Saturday Night Live in 1989 at the age of eleven and knew that’s what he wanted to do. At about that same age Johnny dressed up in a black suit with a mic in hand for career day and said he wanted to be a comedian. But our paths didn’t cross until we were in college at Florida International University in Miami and were fraternity brothers in Sigma Phi Epsilon. While in college, Yamil started an improv/sketch troupe in 1997 called Impromedy and the following year in 1998 he met Johnny. Yamil noticed this Johnny fellow was pretty funny, so he invited him to join the troupe. We’ve been working together ever since. And that’s pretty much how it all started for us.
How do you stay sane while traveling? What music keeps you going on the road, before a show, after a show, etc.?
Music keeps us sane while on the road driving. Some music varies from city to city. We’ll find stations playing random things like polka, which we’re totally cool with cause we’re random like that. We’ll sit there and listen to a polka song like it’s a top ten hit and just jam to it. The internet keeps us sane while in the hotels. The worst is a hotel with no internet. It’s like ok, why are we staying at this hotel with no internet and a television from 1987? And before a show we get pumped with“Swagger Like Us” and “On to the Next One.” We have those two songs in our intro video for our live show, so before we step on stage we’re backstage getting pumped up.
What are your future plans?
Well we were selected to showcase at the 2012 NACA National Convention. This is the biggest showcase for colleges to select the entertainers they want to bring to their campus, so it means more college shows for us. We also have a few television projects currently in the works. You know how this business is though, it’s a wait and see game. Our dream has always been to be on Saturday Night Live though. We’ve been told countless times that’s where we belong, but it’s one of those things that unless you know someone on the inside, it’s tough to get them to pay attention to you. Even with all our credits and success and being Emmy Award winning writers for writing sketch comedy, we’ve yet to get “the call.” It’s probably because they don’t look at Miami as a hot bed for comedy and keep relying on the same farm system from LA, NY, and Chicago like the Groundlings, Upright Citizens Brigade, and Second City. We think we’ve done a hell of a lot from Miami considering we’re not in any of the major cities that dominate the entertainment industry. There’s something to be said about our success considering sketch comedy is a style of comedy that is out of the norm when it comes to touring. We are literally the only one of our kind doing what we do. We are the only nationally touring hispanic sketch comedy duo. And even though we’re Hispanic, we don’t limit ourselves to Latin themed comedy. Whether it’s a college in Massachusetts or a military base in Virginia, we’ve proven time and time again that our comedy is universal. Everybody loves Nuts! So listen up SNL!
You listening, Lorne?