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Behold! Christmas in Los Angeles! Where one begs the question, “Should I put a bow on this cactus?” I’ve lived in sunny Southern California for almost 25 years. Every December, I’ve trekked to the East Coast to eat thousands of cookies with family, sip Dunkin’ Donuts coffee, embrace subzero wind chill and hopefully toss a snowball or two. That’s Christmas to me. It has a smell. A sound. A feel. Cold air, ricotta pie, fresh cup of Joe. My mom’s meatballs sizzling in a pan, anecdotes embellished with Boston accents, tires splashing over slush. Frosted windshields. Fluffy scarves. Mittens! But…


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Photo by Jose Francisco Morales on Unsplash

I’m a big Bradley Cooper fan. We have a lot in common. We’re both from the East coast, Italian mom, same height, blue collar swagger and mesmerizing blue eyes. I’ve always wanted to work with him. The way he immerses himself in character roles is Deniro-esque. From real life con man to animated raccoon to spiraling alcoholic country singer, his range is as broad as the Serengeti. I play cops. That’s about it. It’s my thing. Like an ape with a badge. For guys like me, booking an acting job is a shot of luck mixed with a splash of…


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Eddie Pepitone in Action Auto

I don’t laugh during takes. I’m unbreakable. Kevin James, Neil Patrick Harris, Terry Crews — none have prevented me from delivering my precious dialogue. Fine, there was one time while slapping handcuffs on Henry Winkler during a Barry take when he blurted “Ouch!” and in a nanosecond I replied, “I’m so sorry.” All I could think was, “OMG I hurt the Fonz.” Thankfully, Henry was kidding, our national treasure intact. Anyway, that wasn’t laughter, right? I absolutely love seeing characters break during sketches on Saturday Night Live, their forgivable flaws shot live in front of a roaring studio audience. Bill…


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P.J. Marino on set

Kneeling on a narrow bridge ten feet high, I felt vulnerable. A man yelled in Bulgarian, then flicked an igniter. Flames rose up around me like I was trapped inside a grill. My only escape — flipping my body sideways through scaffolding onto cardboard boxes below. It was just another day in Eastern Europe on set of a sci-fi television movie.

The stunt guy made it look easy when he demonstrated the maneuver a few moments earlier, but he wasn’t surrounded by fire. Should I really be doing this? rumbled through my head. The roughly two-million dollar production had stunt…


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Photo by Steve Troughton on Flickr

I bounced out of the movie theater giddy, pretending the cheap marquee’s neon lights were lasers from a stormtrooper’s blaster. My imaginary light saber vibrated confidently as I stared down a Sith Lord. Stepping inside the family car felt like entering the cockpit of an X-Wing. No, this wasn’t 1977, when I was five years old. It was February 11, 2020 and I was 47. I’d finally watched The Rise of Skywalker.

I saw my first Star Wars film, eventually known as New Hope, at the drive-in during its original theatrical release. That night over forty years ago has remained…


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Photo by Dani Figueiredo on Flickr

Fall came fast in 1997. Chris Farley, one of the funniest people on the planet, was riding high after dominating Saturday Night Live, starring in movies, and returning to SNL to host in late October. I was young, brash, ate everything, drank even more. Like Farley, I was also overweight. I’d get winded walking from the couch to the bathroom. No worries, though. When you’re young, you think you’re indestructible. While in Boston, I’d done four years of stand-up comedy, an indie film and a national commercial. I was ready for Hollywood to hand me a sitcom. …


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Photo by P.J. Marino

Rewind. I press the cassette tape deck button in my ’89 Honda Civic. “Where the hell am I gonna park?” I mumble, squinting at parking signs like I’m doing the S.A.T. verbal. My sense of direction sucks. I know I’ll eventually squeeze my car somewhere, and get lost trying to find it on the way back. It’s a wonder I even find the stage at the comedy club. Even though I’ve been living in Boston my whole life, I’ve just started to decipher its downtown maze, which houses the theater district, Chinatown, and Combat Zone. I land on track three…

P.J. Marino

P.J. Marino is an actor and writer in Los Angeles who has appeared in over 100 TV shows, commercials, and films. More can be seen at www.pjmarino.com.

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