The Tangent

Going off on pop culture

Mario Cantone talks the perils of bring a celebrity

By Ed Condran

Special to amNewYork

• Mario Cantone is at Carolines on Broadway Friday through Sunday. Fri and Sat 8pm. and 10:30pm; Sun 8pm, $38

This video is NSFW.

There is a certain price to pay for fame. Just ask Mario Cantone about the thrill of being recognized.

Strangers often approach the comic/actor — who scored acclaim for his portrayal of a wedding planner with attitude in the TV series and film “Sex and the City” — along the streets and tunnels of Manhattan.“A lot of nice people come up and say nice things and that’s great,” Cantone says while calling from his downtown apartment.

“But then there are the people who stop me who aren’t sure who I am,” Cantone says. “They know I’ve been in some things but they don’t know what. I just wish people wouldn’t approach me if they don’t know me. I don’t want to stand there and read my them my resumé.”

Cantone’s Broadway and film credits are impressive. The fast-talking suburban Boston native starred in the play “The Violet Hour” and his one-man show, “An Evening with Mario Cantone,” was a Great White Way success. Cantone, 48, has appeared in such films as “Mousetrap” and “Quiz Show.”

“It’s been great,” says Cantone, who will be performing at Carolines this weekend. “I was meant to do what I do.”

Ever since he was two, it was apparent that he would be a performer. “At that age, I would get up on a coffee table and sing Judy Garland songs,” Cantone says. “How embarrassing is that?”

After appearing in a number of high school student productions, Cantone went to Boston’s Emerson College for a degree in acting.

e also minored in comedy writing and toiled in Emerson’s Comedy Workshop alongside actor-comic Denis Leary.

“Denis is one of the greatest people you could ever meet,” Cantone says. “He’s a great performer, an amazing stand-up.”

Cantone isn’t bad either. He’s a theatrical, unpredictable humorist with a razor-sharp wit.

“I have an amazing amount of fun up onstage,” Cantone says. “But I’m not sure what I’ll do when I’ll be at Carolines. Even though the election is over, I think I’ll talk about Sarah Palin and [John] McCain.”

Just don’t follow Cantone after the show. An overzealous admirer recently sought out the openly gay performer on the subway.

“This drunken construction worker comes at me and says, ‘You’re gay, right?’ ” Cantone recalls. “He chases after me and I jump onto a subway [car] and the door closes. He puts his fist in the door hoping that it would open. I pushed his fist back through the door.

“It was scary since he kept carping about the gay thing. It was horrifying. It was like being in a Brian De Palma movie. But I’m not starring in a Brian De Palma movie. It’s real life. It would just be nice to be able to ride the subway without being chased by someone.”

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