San Jose, CA – This year, more than 30 thousand people enjoyed the 30th annual Italian American Family Festa at Guadalupe River Park in San Jose with entertainment by world renown recording artists Pasquale Esposito and Alfio, as well as other well-known talent. Among this years entertainment, a local Bay Area rising star captivated the audience with his quick wit and charm.
Emcee Mike Sanchez of Gilroy, CA kept things moving, and crowds laughing during the two-day, entertainment-filled event as his humor took center stage. The laughter began as Sanchez introduced himself by telling the audience, “Bonjiorno y benvenuti, my name is Alfredo Tortellini, but this weekend, you can all just call me Pasta.” Fresh off the 20th annual 2010 San Jose Jazz Festival, where he hosted and emceed the “Jazz and Beyond” stage, Sanchez was ready to roll when the Festa came around.
Joe Rizzi, 2010 Festa Director stated that Sanchez helped the event provide better entertainment than previous years and moved the event to the next level of growth with his ability to fill in the gaps and keep things moving. “He brings a lot to the table with great ideas and outside the box thinking. He is a very funny and polished speaker. We are very happy to have him on board.”
To that Sanchez jokingly replied, “Yea so they got me to do it because there was a shortage of funny Italians who’d work for what they were offering. All it cost me was a microwave oven I donated to the organization. That sealed the deal.”
No stranger to speaking in front of a crowd, Sanchez said he cut his teeth as a public speaker at an early age. “I’ve been shooting my mouth off since I was a kid.” He states. “As the youngest of five kids, you learn real quick to speak up! When you get them laughing you can take their food.”
Despite the jokes, Sanchez said it was a thrill to work with such a great group of people in the Italian American Heritage Foundation (IAHF) and the Festa Committee. What appealed to him was the fact that they are an all-inclusive group and encourage people of all cultures to join. He also appreciates the fact that the IAHF offers scholarships to local high school students and has been doing so since it’s inception.
“Kids and community are two things I care very much about. So it was an automatic ‘Yes’ when I got the call,” said Sanchez. “This year was the inaugural event at Guadalupe River Park in the Little Italy section of San Jose. For the Festa organizers and indeed, the entire Italian American community, it was truly a homecoming.” Adding, “I had an absolutely fabulous time. The crowd was incredible, gracious, and only heckled me about 80 times. I don’t really do comedy, I just say funny stuff.” Sanchez said grinning. And that “funny stuff’ works very well gauged by the audience’s continuous laughter.
Sanchez’s passion for comedy is only trumped by his love of writing. “My greatest passion is to write books. I’m working on the first one now. So far, I have the authors name. It’s taking so long I might make it about overcoming procrastination,” he said with his trademark grin. The laughter for Sanchez will likely keep rolling in as his popularity, and notoriety as one of the Bay Area’s funniest speakers continues to grow.
Mike Sanchez and Joe Rizzi Interview San Jose, CA September 2010