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Improv, Rejected Gangster Film Titles, and Muhammad Ali

A graphic of Tony Nappo edited to appear as multiple people sitting in a circle as a spoof of Alcoholics Anonymous. At the top and bottom of the image is text that reads
/By / Jun 8, 2016

Nappoholics Anonymous is a weekly column featuring twelve random thoughts by actor Tony Nappo. Some are funny, some are poignant, some bother him, and some make him weep from sadness while others make him weep for joy. Here are his thoughts: unfiltered, uncensored, and only occasionally unsafe for work.

1. All three shows I was in last year—Butcher, Mustard, and The Summonedwere nominated for the 2016 Dora Award for Best New Play. Now, I’m not saying casting me in your play will guarantee a Best New Play nomination, but it will definitely increase the shit out of your odds.

2. I had an Italian barber named Joe who worked at White Shield Plaza in Scarborough for years. A couple years before he died, he said to me, “You know, Tony, it was the Greeks who discovered sex.”

“Seriously, Joe?”

“Yes,” he answered, deadpan. “But it was the Italians who introduced it to women.”

3. I have never taken any improv training. I have improvised publicly twice. The first time was with Matt Baram and Naomi Snieckus of the National Theatre of the World. We improvised an hour-long Sam Sheppard play. It was amazing—like flying—one of the greatest nights I have ever been on a stage. They had prepared me and coached me and took care of me onstage and everything went right. We told a poignant story with a ton of laughs.

The second time was for something called The 24 Hour Soap Opera and I was invited because I was doing a show with Linda Kash. We rushed down after a performance of God of Carnage and I wasn’t really prepared and all of these amazing improvisers were there watching and I was super nervous hoping that I could bullshit my way through. That night went so terribly that I walked straight off the stage and into the parking lot where I just cried. I am pretty sure I didn’t even sleep that night thinking of all the things I should have said or could have said and feeling that sense of failure and humiliation that comes when you just freeze right the fuck up.

So, I guess what I am saying is that, if I ever teach an improv class, the odds are fifty fifty that it will absolutely suck.

Nappo Improv

4. Top 5 Rejected Gangster Film Titles of All Time:

5- It’s a Wonderful Knife

4- Throw That Mamaluke from the Train

3- Desperately Seeking Crew Men

2- Cool Hand Mook

1- Catso Blanca

5. I really appreciate it when directors let me improvise and massage lines of dialogue on film set. Partly because I can usually own the character a little more—give it some specificity and a fuller life than what might have been on the page—and partly because my eyes are so bad I can barely see the fucking sides anymore.

6. He was my hero. I wanted to be him when I grew up. Not because he was a boxer but because he was great. He was GREATNESS personified. In his search, his convictions, his humour, his generosity, his poetry, his cockiness, his convictions, his sacrifice, his menace, his intelligence, and his artistry. Larry Holmes said he “was one of those guys that make you feel good about yourself… made everybody feel good… everybody.”

Muhammad Ali was the greatest fighter who ever lived, who just happened to be the most gifted boxer of all time, as well.

I still want to be him when I grow up.

M Ali

7. I’m not sure if this has ever been said this plainly before, but Donald Trump is a dick and if you like him, you’re a dick, too. It’s really that simple.

8. I finally saw the first season of that Orphan Black show all the way through and nobody said, “Watchoo talkin bout, Willis?” Not even once. Fuckin’ bullshit.

9. I live in High Park in a neighbourhood where there are three different Indian Roads and, as far as I know, only one Indian person.

10. Working with Christine Horne who BEAT ME out for a Canadian Screen Award earlier this year, and I have to say I have found her VERY difficult to work with. She always knows her lines and she never fucks up and she gets along well with everyone. It gets worse: Tonight she wanted some tea and the water wasn’t “hot enough for the tea to steep properly,” so she boiled her own water and made the tea without bothering anyone. God, how much attention can one person need?


11. Putting my daughter to bed when she was nine, she would insist on me lying down with her for a while before she drifted off. I remember this conversation so clearly.

Me- (whispering) I love you.

Her- (echoing my whisper) I love you too.

Me- (attempting to one up her) I love you more.

Her- (casually confident) Good to know.

She’s eleven now and I am rarely permitted entry into her lair—I should have seen it coming.


Nappo Canada AM

Tony Nappo

Tony Nappo

Tony is Italian, he’s from Scarborough, he’s an actor, he’s a father, he’s a really good house painter, and he doesn’t believe that most things matter, ultimately, at all.



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