In 1985, I had the opportunity of appearing with a very funny comedian by the name of Rich Gagliardi at a small comedy club in Palmyra, New Jersey. Rich, who would start performing as 'Rick Scotti', went on to be named the "Funniest Comedian in New Jersey" on Showtime television, as part of the "Funniest Comedian in America" contest. By the way, the comedian who went on to win that title that year was Ellen DeGeneres.
Rick for several years after that toured all the major comedy clubs in the country such as Catch a Rising Star and the Improv in New York City, the Comedy Factory Outlet in Philadelphia, and The Comedy Store in Los Angeles. Appearances in theaters and on television shows followed the pathway of such comedy legends as Jerry Seinfeld and Jay Leno. And then, Rick dropped out of sight and out of comedy.
Rick went through gender-confirmation surgery and emerged as Julia Scotti - but this time as a high school English teacher. She never had a thought that she would do stand-up comedy ever again. But, the comedy bug was so strong, that she decided to try her hand at it again.
"Julia Scotti: Funny That Way", tracks the return of Julia to the stages of comedy clubs ---along with her reuniting with her son and daughter. Director Susan Sandler tells a "vibrant story through interviews, extensive archival footage of Rick Scotti’s performances, home movies, stills, and observational footage" as Julia gets to form new relationships with her now-grown children. The real highlight is her appearance on "America's Got Talent", where she came out as transgender to a national audience. While Julia did not win that year, she won the hearts and minds of her audience who gave her a standing ovation for her performances.
Director/Producer Sandler wrote the script for Golden Globe-nominated film “Crossing Delancey” as well as projects for Sony Pictures Entertainment, Twentieth Century Fox, Disney, TNT, Columbia Pictures, and Jersey Films. Ms. Sandler is on the faculty of NYU Tisch School of the Arts. She tells Julia's tale with great story-telling skill, much personal respect, and most importantly - love of the subject matter. Funny That Way was recently featured as a very special part of the Nantucket Film Festival and is making its way around the film festival circuit.
Hopefully, the folks at the Acme Screening Room will make "Julia Scotti: Funny That Way" part of their offerings very soon. It will be worth the wait.
Rosi & Joey at The Movies is sponsored by Flemington Car & Truck Country