Q&A with: Danny Pellegrino
Danny Pellegrino, an Ohio native and L.A. transplant, made a name for himself in the Instagram meme world. Editing pictures of Real Housewives like Lisa Rinna and Countess Luann de Lesseps alongside witty captions and relatable workday fodder, the Second City alum took his comedic chops to the digital realm years ago while battling depression. "I wasn't able to perform anymore," Pellegrino says of his former stand-up routines. Adding, "I gave up that part of me."
While Pellegrino felt safe in his Instagram anonymity, the Bravo fanatic launched his "Everything Iconic" podcast back in 2017 when his growing audience demanded more of the hilarious Housewives enthusiast. Known as one of reality television's most hailed commentators, the performer-meets-podcast-host boasts guests from Sonja Morgan and Jerry O'Connell to Bonnie Hunt and Jennifer Love Hewitt discussing all things pop culture and celebrity tea.
That podcast led him to working with Vanderpump Rules stars Ariana Madix and Tom Sandoval on their long-awaited cocktail book. Having co-authored his second book Fancy AF Cocktails releasing in December (the first being The Super Carb Diet with Bob Harper), Pellegrino is eager to show that his writing style and campy captions are perfectly paired with Madix and Sandoval's SUR-inspired libations. Not to mention his writing style is on par with his podcast, Instagram account and stand-up routines.
And speaking of stand-up performances, Pellegrino is excited to take his talents to the stage again with live podcast tapings in L.A. and New York -- and (hopefully) Chicago soon!
Congratulations on "Fancy AF Cocktails!" How does it feel to co-author your second body of work? I never anticipated being an author. I was always screenwriting and writing in various online publications, [but] I never anticipated being a book author. The opportunity presented itself and it turned out so great. I’m super excited for people to see the final product.
How did your comedy career take off? After college, I [moved] to Chicago because I always learned about the sketch comedy scene and the improv scene. I fell in love with the city and I was taking classes at Second City and IO. I really consider that my training ground for learning everything I could about writing and comedy. Everyone in Chicago is so amazing, but the art scene has the most creative [and] intelligent people. I learned so much and I just love that city so much.
How did stand-up comedy turn into a podcast? I had been performing stand-up and I fell into a dark place. I suffered from depression [and] I wasn't able to perform anymore. As I was making memes and creating content online, I noticed a community forming and I thought a podcast would be a great vehicle for me to perform, but also do it from the comfort of my home. I could get behind a microphone and still be creative and perform, but not in front of a live audience. At the time, I didn’t feel like I was mentally strong enough to do that. It's interesting [that] now that the podcast has led to these live shows.
What's been a career highlight so far? The people I grew up loving have been dream-come-true interviews for me. I had on Bonnie Hunt on and she was someone I worshipped. Particularly in Chicago, everyone knows what a legend she is. I [think] she's the smartest at everything she’s ever done. Someone like Jennifer Love Hewitt, who I grew up watching [and] I had the I Know What You Did Last Summer poster on my wall. Then having her come over to my house to do an interview was just surreal to me. As a kid growing up in Ohio, I thought I would have the opportunity to talk to someone who was on the big screen or on TV. Now, getting to talk to them or coming over to my house to chat is amazing and so exciting for me.
How are Bravo shows like "Real Housewives" and "Vanderpump Rules" more than just a reality television show? I’m so grateful that these women, particularly the Housewives, [who] put themselves on screen and give us all this stuff to comment on. It’s silly, it’s dramatic and it’s wonderful to watch women on TV. I’m so grateful. I think everything that’s been happening in my career can be traced in some way back to Bravo. I find that now, we need an escape more than ever. Things are so dark and there’s a lot of turmoil in our country. [People need] just an hour a day or a couple hours a week to escape and not think about that stuff. We watch something mindless so we can refuel and fight all those fights later.