From ‘Rescue Me’ to the stage, Adam Ferrara loves a good story

Adam Ferrara is a comedian and actor who has starred in “Rescue Me” and “The Job.” He will perform at Goodnights in Raleigh this weekend.Adam Ferrara

Adam Ferrara loves to tell stories when he’s on stage, even those he doesn’t share with his therapist.

“I’m a confessional comic,” Ferrara says in a phone interview. “I think it has something to do with my Italian upbringing. A friend asked me how it went with my shrink recently. I said, ‘He didn’t get nothing out of me.’”

Ferrara is a character actor who has starred in “Rescue Me” and “The Job” and had a supporting role in the TV series, “Nurse Jackie” and in such films as “Paul Blart: Mall Cop” and “Monument Avenue.” He also hosted the American version of “Top Gear.”

Ferrara, 52, shared some of his stories with The News & Observer, while calling from New York, before he comes to Raleigh this weekend. He’ll perform shows Oct. 11-13.

1. Working with Denis Leary

Ferrara refers to his longtime friend and comic-actor pal Denis Leary as “that guy.”

Learning to act at the school of Leary, the star and co-creator of “Rescue Me,” isn’t easy.

“Denis gives you two takes to get it right and that’s it.,” Ferrara says. “Working with him was baptism by fire. That’s how I learned to be a dramatic actor.”

But it’s clear Ferrara is devoted to him and would relish working with him again, describing him as “the Irish Frank Sinatra.”

“Denis is just that,” Ferrara says. “He’s the man. When he wants to get the band back together, we all jump to it.”

For now, Ferrara will just have to hear Leary’s voice on Ford commercials, which he said initially was strange to hear.

“The other day the TV was on, and I heard Denis’ voice and I thought, ‘Did he leave a message?’” Ferrara said. “I thought it was odd because Denis never calls the house phone. Then I realized that it was his Ford commercial. I said to my wife, “Denis wants us to buy a truck.”

2. His comedic roots are deep.

Ferrara’s dad gave him the thumbs up to become a comic a generation ago.

“A lot of people don’t want their kids to become comics and I understand that,” Ferrara says. “But my dad sad to go for it before my life gets complicated. It’s the best thing I ever did.”

On stage, Ferrara’s act is a series of anecotes.

“I put it through the blender when I get up there,” he said. “I’m a little neurotic but it doesn’t mean that I can’t monetize that. I talk about my wife and family. I can’t fix what’s wrong with me but I can joke about it.”

3. He makes the most of his Italian upbringing

Ferrara has a substantial part in the film “Little Italy,” which stars Emma Roberts and Hayden Christensen. The film hit theaters in limited release last month.

“I play Emma Roberts’ father,” Ferrara says. “You have to see this movie. It’s like the Italian version of ‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding.’ The cast is incredible. Alyssa Milano, Danny Aiello and Andrea Martin are in it. Andrea Martin plays my mom.”

His favorite part in the film comes when Martin strikes him in the head.

“We were working on a scene early in the film and the beat just wasn’t working,” Ferrara says. “I told Andrea to just hit me in the head. My mother used to do that. Andrea hit me once and the scene got a big laugh when I saw it in the theater. She kept hitting me in the film. I opened up this big box.”

4. It’s good to have friends in the business

After “Little Italy” wrapped, Ferrara and Aiello talked about getting together.

“I told him that I was going to do stand-up in New York and he said he would drop by,” Ferrara says. “Danny actually went to the wrong club. He went to Caroline’s and he goes backstage looking for me and he sees (comic) Dave Attell there. He asked where I was and Dave said that I was at Gotham. Danny actually went across town to Gotham to see me. The guys is in his ‘80s (Aiello is 85).”

5. He’s not from Boston

Fans usually believe that Ferrera is from Boston since he’s close with Boston entertainers like Leary and veteran comic-actor Lenny Clarke.

“I can see why people think that,” Ferrara says. “I’m a New Yorker and a Jets fan while Leary loves the Packers, since I believe he bought stock in the team and Lenny loves the Patriots.”

6. Work makes him happy.

Ferrara’s schedule is so loaded that it doesn’t leave time for him to do anything else.

“Fortunately work is fun,” Ferrara says. “I shot this movie and I released an album (“Unconditional”) and then there is stand-up. Being busy working is better than just hanging out at home. Work is what I do and it makes me happy.”

Adam Ferrara

When: Oct. 11, 8 p.m.; Oct. 12 and 13, 7:30 and 10 p.m.
Where: Goodnights Comedy Club, 861 W. Morgan St., Raleigh
Tickets: $17, Oct. 11; $21, Oct. 12; $25 Oct. 13
Info: 919-828-5233 or goodnightscomedy.com

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