Danny Tamberelli [Interview]

If you were a child in the 90’s, there are many faces that will forever continue to placate your mind.  And I don’t particularly mean the hacks you see on reality TV shows and commentating on VH1 about their fellow hacks who are starring in said reality shows.  No, I mean the exceptionally charismatic ones.  And few people stand out to me more than the cast of Nickelodeon’s now cult classic The Adventures of Pete & Pete.  You remember it.  Anybody between the ages of 25 to 35 who doesn’t remember this show missed out on one of the finest shows for the youth ever made.  This was our Wonder Years.  And while we were probably more active and went outside more than the youth today who hide behind smart phones waiting for something witty to cross their minds to call a status, we still made every second of our designated TV time count every time.  Choices may have been fewer, but they sure were grander, weren’t they?

As previously mentioned, it was big Pete & little Pete who rocked our world in the 90’s.  The disturbing yet funny awkwardness of these two brothers, their friends, and the antics they would all partake in were so genuinely kind-hearted and real that they felt like they were family rather than regular characters in an irregular world that was far too unobtainable for any of us to imagine being a part of.  For many of us, we yearned for Danny Tamberelli over JTT.  We watched him slime celebrities and melt our hearts.  And while he may not be the Nickelodeon star who moved onto Saturday Night Live or shitty reality TV shows, it turns out he may very well be one of the most creative individuals from the era of the second round of child stars.  The last of the stars who weren’t discovered on a YouTube video, or proved to be a shameless offspring of a shameless country singer.  Anybody who thinks Tamberelli simply fell off the map is seriously mistaken.  The man is an artist who has been doing whatever the hell he has felt like doing since he was 7 years old.  From film, to sketch comedy, and to a lengthy career in music for some amazing groups.  He’s worked and lived for his chosen art.  Which is one of the most commendable acts one can commit in the creative world.

So, we at Trainwreck’d Society were honored to be given the chance to share a few words with one of the most inspiring child stars turned relevant artist of our time.  Ladies and gentlemen, Danny Tamberelli.


Tells us a bit about “Man Boobs” if you would.

Manboobs is my sketch comedy crew out of NYC. Jeremy, Brendan and I make videos and post them on our site manboobscomedy.com and our YouTube page.  We have been creating content for 3 years now and are working on a live show to perform at the Peoples Improv Theater in the fall.  It took me a while to get back into writing sketch comedy, but now I cant stop writing and making videos.

Any other acting jobs coming soon, or have recently done?

I have a few projects in production that I can’t really talk about.  Both are animated.  Most of my on-screen acting is coming from Manboobs these days.

How was it being a child star?  Was it has estranged and surreal as some people have made it out to be?

My parents were really cool about keeping me grounded as a kid.  I went to public school, played soccer and baseball in elementary and middle school.  I had as normal of an upbringing as I could.  Biggest problem was not being able to go to a movie theater or the mall without a big crowd reaction.  I worked continuously from 6-18 so when I finished high school I decided I wanted to go to college and take a break.  You won’t see me on celebrity rehab or child stars gone wild…

Are you often recognized on the streets by the late twenty/early thirty somethings who probably saw you everyday on television? 

Yes, it happens every day still.  My face hasn’t changed, I’ve only gotten fatter.  The cool thing about it is that most everyone that stops me are chill people who were really into the shows.  Especially the Pete and Pete fans. Some show me tattoos that my fake tat inspired. They tell me how much the show meant to them and how it affected their childhood. It’s a great thing to hear because it changed me as well.  I was 7-14 on the show so I did a good chunk of becoming the person I am today on the show.

Do you still see Big Pete (Michael C. Marona) very often?  Was working with him at such a young age sort of like having another big brother?  (Explain)

I see Mike every once in a while.  We are texters and sometimes we meet in Brooklyn for a sneaky pint or 2.  When the two of us are in a bar together for too long it gets weird.  I am the oldest in my family with 0 brothers so Mike was for sure an older brother figure.  He talked to me about music and girls and growing up.  My first taste of NYC living was hanging out at his apt in the east village that had the shower in the kitchen..

Has there ever been any consideration for a Pete & Pete reunion special?  And would you be interested in doing such a thing?   

We’ve done a few reunion panel discussions which have gone extremely well selling out 2 shows in NYC and one in LA.  I think we are doing another one in LA in August.  As far as an actual show, it would be excellent to work with everyone but part of me is fine leaving it alone.  It keeps the integrity intact.  Mike has already appeared in a Manboobs sketch and we have Toby Huss on the docket next time we get out to LA to shoot.

I hear you are currently an acting musician as well.  What sort of work can we expect to hear you performing?  Any live shows coming soon?

Yup, been playing bass since I was 12 on the Pete and Pete set.  Haven’t put it down in 18 years.  I play bass and sing in my own band Jounce (Jounce.org), we have been touring the east and west coasts for 11 years now and released three records.  We are recording a 4th in the fall at Downtown Studios in NYC.  I also play bass for one of the founding members of the CBGB era NYC post punk band Television, Richard Lloyd.  We have been playing together for 3 years now.  Lastly, I play for a funk/hiphop group out of Virginia called Midnight Spaghetti. ( http://www.midnightspaghetti.com) They have been recording and touring through the east coast, Canada and Costa Rica.  I have been with them around 2 years.

Acting or Music, if you were only able to do one, which would it be?

I think this is a cruel question.  I love them both, guess I’d be forced into musical theater to be able to do both…please dont make me do that.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

the answer to the previous question because it’s so ridiculous to think of myself doing musical theater…still smiling.