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Catching up with Steve Rannazzisi

As the hapless league commissioner Kevin McArthur on FXX’s “The League,” Steve Rannazzisi is used to fans asking him fantasy football advice in real life, questions he admittedly gets pretty tired of answering. “You really do,” he said in a recent phone interview. “It happens a lot, and during the football season, it’s insane. Football season is when I pretend to care about other people’s fantasy teams, and it’s when I do my best acting. It’s like listening to people’s dreams: Nobody cares but them.”

After graduating from SUNY Purchase with a degree in theater and film, Rannazzisi moved to Los Angeles and soon honed his stand-up comedy chops. He got his break on the former MTV series “Punk’d,” appeared in several movies and released his first stand-up comedy special, “Manchild,” in 2013.

As he finishes work on his new comedy special, he said he is looking forward to returning to Buffalo for his performances March 26-29 in Helium Comedy Club. “I don’t think I’ve ever had an empty seat,” he said about Buffalo. “They’re just passionate fans and smart crowds. I’m really excited to go back.” Did you move to L.A. for acting, comedy or both?

Rannazzisi: Sort of both. I wanted to act, but when I was in New York, I started doing stand-up and really fell in love with that. I enjoyed performing every night and wanted to get on stage, so when I got to L.A., it was straight to the Comedy Store to do stand-up and get a job, and do the Groundlings to be able to learn about sketch comedy, improvising and things like that.

Q: Does comedy affect your acting and vice-versa?

A: To me, (comedy and acting) is different because there’s nothing like a live audience. When you’re acting on film and television, the difference is that you will have the opportunity to try different ways or new things, mess up and take chances. When it’s something live, you can do those things as well, but if they don’t go well, everyone is going to know about it right away. To me, that’s amazing. If it’s stand-up, there’s nothing like having 300 strangers laugh at a joke you wrote in your car two weeks ago.

Q: What’s it like working on “The League?”

A: I love that show. I’m a sports fan, and I would be into this whether I worked on the show or not. But the fact that I get to work with six of the funniest people in the world [is amazing]. Every year, we keep pushing the boundaries and getting funnier, making ourselves laugh. FX is a great place to work. We’ve never had a table read or a note, and they don’t bust our chops. It’s a home run, and you don’t get many of these in your career. I cherish this show.


Steve Rannazzisi

When: 8 p.m. Thursday; 7:30 and 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday; and 7:30 p.m. Sunday

Where: Helium Comedy Club, 31 Mississippi St.

Tickets: $20-$33


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