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Heatwaves, Factory’s Season, and Mom Quotes

/By / Aug 31, 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. It’s almost been worth living through the god-awful heat of this summer to have been given a new nickname by Kate: Wayne Sweatsky. It’s way better than what she used to call me in this weather: “Don’t touch me, you’re disgusting.”

2. My first recorded act of thuggery with childhood friend Steve Jacobs. I hadn’t quite perfected the “What? I didn’t do nothin’” look yet.


3. I think the Factory’s new season is a very smart one. BEYOND THE GREAT WHITE NORTH—nothing subtle about that. There has been a lot of talk about diversity in theatre in this city the last couple years but not enough actual progress for many.

Factory has been rebuilding for a while now and had a strong season last year. There is a diverse audience out there who doesn’t necessarily know WHERE to go to see a show, generally speaking. AND, with limited resources, competing with Tarragon, Canadian Stage, and Soulpepper is an uphill battle if you are going to be producing and offering the same fare. However, becoming THE CENTRE of diversity… Why the fuck not? Give playwrights like David Yee and Anusree Roy a home the same way George F. Walker had one there. Build a following (and an audience) the same way George and many others have in the past.

In a season or two, people who want to see their own cultures reflected on the stage will know where to venture on any given night. It was suggested in many conversations I had with people that this actually isn’t diversity at all but a segregation of sorts—a ghettoization—in terms of loading up on non-white artists and shows. I don’t think that is so. I think it’s just about having a single place, a home, where you can find diverse work rather than having to search for it all over the city. No one would call Buddies in Bad Times a gay ghettoization. It’s an institution and a vital and necessary voice in the landscape of Toronto theatre. Only time will tell if I am right or wrong. Maybe this season is an anomaly and shouldn’t be taken as an indication of the future mandate. Maybe it’s a test. I don’t know, but, again, I think it’s very smart both artistically and in terms of business.

4. One time at Subway, my eleven-year-old, Ella, was halfway through her ham and cheese sandwich when she slides her cookie bag towards herself, peeks inside, and says, “Don’t worry, baby, I’m coming for you. Be patient.” I have no idea where she learns this stuff.

5. I finally tried that travel-sized tube of Canesten toothpaste that’s been sitting in my medicine cabinet for years. It tastes like shit but my mouth feels remarkably “fresh.”

6. I was a guest in the pilot for Breakout Kings and got to work with Domenick Lombardozzi from The Wire and Entourage. He was so warm and greeted me with a big hug and said, “You were in my friend Mark’s movie. Four Brothers. You were good in that,” which sent me over the moon. I told him what a huge fan of The Wire I was and I kept calling him Hulk, thinking that was his name on The Wire but it was actually Herc. An honest mistake. But he never corrected me. Somehow before the last day I realized the mistake I made and went up to him as soon as I saw him and said, “I feel like such an asshole. I’ve been calling you Hulk instead of Herc the whole time. Why didn’t you correct me?” He kinda shrugged like he was embarrassed for me that I had called myself out and said, in his thick New York accent, “It doesn’t matter. I knew what you meant.”

Intention. It’s always more important than getting the dialogue exactly right.


7. Basically, I go to the barber to get my neck shaved. Whatever else happens there is a bonus.

8. One time, after my mom read an interview I had done in the paper, she corrected me by saying, “You’re wrong. We weren’t poor. We just didn’t have any money.” I love that my mom said that.

9. I was not the original choice for Quentin in The Summoned. I was asked at the end of the run of Mustard if I could replace Ennis Esmer because he was too busy being a big television star (rightfully so). In the early rehearsals, it was going okay but I wasn’t so good. I was doing what I usually did with my lines and having a real sense of authority but it wasn’t very funny. Director Richard Rose suggested I try a more nebbish-type character and in the writing I found a kind of rhythmic key. I came to work the third week and started saying all of my lines exactly like the comic book guy on the Simpsons.

Suddenly everything was funny but not necessarily in a good way. Then I just kept toning it down further and I really invested in all of the props and business I was given until it all added up to playing an actual human being.

I wouldn’t have had the balls to make these broad choices and wouldn’t have been able to execute them without a director and a playwright (Fab Fillippo) who I trusted. It wasn’t so much that I thought they wouldn’t allow me to look stupid, but that they wouldn’t allow me to ruin the play. That’s why it’s important to trust your director. Because with them you are able to do things that you never could have done without them. It’s necessary for growth. And I think it’s really difficult to GROW and PROTECT YOURSELF at the same time.


10. I celebrated International Dog Day this week by peeing on my carpet and puking up a thong… At least, that’s why I’m telling people I did that.

11. Adrian Truss, winner of the 2016 Paul Thompson Look-Alike Contest, is pictured here during the talent portion of the competition, telling a local bass that his swimming just wasn’t believable at all. “Pure pageantry,” he called it. “Now back in the 70s, when we did The Fish Show, Booth Savage discovered this particular way of swimming, through an improv…”


12. I was once in one of those actor positions where I was told it wasn’t a booking “yet” but I was “going to get twenty to twenty-five days” as one of the cornermen in Cinderella Man. When that happens there is nothing to do but wait. At least half of the time it doesn’t go your way for whatever reason. The next call that eventually came informed me that my services would no longer be required because Ron Howard had cast Paul Giamatti in the film and felt I looked too much like him. That call should have started like this, “I’ve got some bad news and I’ve got the worst fucking thing that you will ever hear in your entire career…”

Now my agent pretty much only informs me of bookings and none of the in-between stuff. It’s those almost bookings that’ll kill you in this racket.

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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