The funny DeCicco

Comedian Regina DeCicco – yes, she of the grocery dynasty, the raspy voice and the way with an audience – always enters, and leaves you, laughing.

When comic Regina DeCicco takes the stage, her exuberance and comic timing command the audience’s attention. After years of stand-up, she’s honed her performance. But it’s her vocal cords — genetically tuned to a lower register — that influence her shtick. 

As soon as DeCicco opens her mouth, out comes a career-defining voice. She compares the sound of it to that of a geriatric smoker or the raspy actor Harvey Fierstein. “It’s a fun calling card,” she says before adding, “I have a 2-year-old niece who actually called me Uncle Regina.”

To up the funny, she doesn’t have to stretch much to capture the croak of cartoon legends like Marge Simpson, Roz (the slug lady) from Monster’s Inc. and — the one she gets most often — the bigoted rapscallion, Eric Cartman, from South Park. 

“I wouldn’t notice how deep and raspy (my voice) is,” she says. Then other comics started to point it out.

It’s a voice just distinct enough that audiences immediately tune in to it. When DeCicco acknowledges the trait during her act, the crowd often explodes with laughter in confirmation that they noticed, too. She says even in casual conversation she’ll allude to it being unique and the response is often “That’s what I was thinking.” 

“There’s a therapeutic element, too, for other women who have that voice,” she says. “It’s wild how comedy can connect you.”

Her ease and willingness to engage an audience has led DeCicco to her most recent day job.

 Since the end of November, she can be found weekday mornings warming up the audience at ABC’s talk show “The View.”

“I’d officially never warmed up an audience before,” she says. But after she realized how natural it felt, her career trajectory seemed to become clearer. She realized “Oh, this is a perfect fit.” 

DeCicco had already begun interacting with her crowds more by preference. “I was doing more and more crowd work in 2018,” she says, adding that a lot of work goes in to every joke. The jokes are perfected through repetition so there winds up being a lot of acting to make the material sound fresh, she believes. “You’re acting like you just got off the subway,” she says. She started noticing that audience interaction came naturally to her. “(That way) every show is new to me so I can stay excited.”

“I like to have as much fun with the audience as I can,” she says. “I’m high energy by nature.” At “The View,” audience members have approached her to ask, “Can you come home with me and wake me up in the morning?”

In January, DeCicco put those rallying chops to work again at The Bell House in Brooklyn for a stand-up special taped for television featuring Fran Drescher. She warmed up the audience for the show “Women of a Certain Age.”

Hers is a name of a certain repute. “Especially in Westchester,” she says. She is indeed a member of the family that runs the eponymous supermarket chain. In fact, sometimes audience members approach her and say, “I’m gonna go in (to the market) and tell them I met a family member.”

DeCicco now lives on the Upper West Side but was born in the Bronx and moved to Rockland County at the age of 2. But with so many DeCicco store locations in Westchester, that’s where the family spent much of their time. 

Being one of the few family members who veered in another direction “at first it was a little difficult,” she says. Her family moved from Italy in 1958 and has grown the higher-end food market business exponentially, keeping it in the family, since 1973. The business expanded from the Bronx into Westchester County in 1985. The family shares responsibility for six locations as well as the original Westchester store in Pelham. “It was an American dream story what they did,” she says.

Now DeCicco & Sons (the sons being her brother and two cousins) is a business that involves the whole family. Well, almost the whole family. DeCicco jokes that the market should be called “DeCicco & Everybody But Regina.”

“I worked in the stores growing up,” she says. But after graduating from Barnard College in Manhattan, she was drawn to television work. In the early days of her career she worked behind the scenes for shows like “Saturday Night Live” and Whoopi Goldberg’s NBC sitcom, “Whoopi,” then went on to train at the Upright Citizens Brigade. 

“I would always bring my parents to everything I did,” she says. So, they would have an understanding of an industry that was foreign to them. “They could see how passionate I was and they were happy to support me.”

DeCicco’s Italian heritage has made its way into her act. She performs all over the country in a two-hour, casino style variety show, The Italian Chicks. “I talk a lot about my (late) nonna,” she said. “I get to very much keep her alive.”

Among other accolades, DeCicco was voted Lower Hudson Valley’s Funniest Person in 2011 and loves to perform this side of Manhattan.

“Westchester has a really big variety of performance spaces,” she says, noting bigger venues like the Emelin Theatre, Lucy’s Lounge in Pleasantville and Yonkers Comedy Club in Ridge Hill. In November, she performed at “The Makeup Date” at Bloomingdale’s White Plains and, last month, at the Brewster Ice Arena and nearby Tilly’s Table.

On “The View,” she’s part of a show that’s been a platform for legendary comedic voices like Joy Behar and the woman she worked for when she was starting out 15 years ago, Whoopi Goldberg. “That was a coincidence,” she says. But it taught her an important life lesson. 

“My best advice is just to be a good person and be nice,” she says. “You don’t know who is going to pop back into your life. Imagine if I’d been a terrible person.” 

Always a DeCicco loyalist, she brings her family to “The View,” including her 100-year-old grandpa. And she’s not afraid to give him an order to clap as loud as he can. “I’ll say, ‘Sell it, grandpa.’”

With her big Italian family behind her as her star rises, DeCicco is certain she’s right where she belongs. 

“The crew today at ‘The View’ gave me a present,” she says. It was a Cartman bobble head. And the card read “Welcome to the team.”

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