The self-proclaimed “laziest man in show business,” Mario Cantone has captivated the hearts of many over the years. As an actor, comedian, and entertainer, Mario has paved a career for himself from his humor, honesty, witty jokes, and as Charlotte’s gay best friend we all love. Regardless of his own title, Mario’s career has been built from merit and gratitude, something that still holds true today.
As a kid growing up in Stoneham, Massachusetts, Mario recalls directing and choreographing shows from his garage. One vivid memory is of his mother. “We could hear her coming by the flapping of her open- toed Fredericks of Hollywood slippers,” he says, adding, “the faster they flapped, the madder she was, and we would all flee in the middle of Act 1 of ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.’”
Mario’s enthusiasm for the arts would lead him to major in theatre arts at Stoneham High School during his junior year. After graduation, he ventured into the comedic space at Emerson College in the Emerson Comedy Workshop founded by Denis Leary and Eddie Brill.
With an interest in the arts serving as a safe space for him, Mario notes he was always openly gay. “I didn’t announce it on the intercom,” he joked, but it was something he was bullied for in middle school. Either way, he lived in his truth and eventually, the same jocks that were bullying him ended up becoming his protectors during high school. But where did his boldness come from? Mario attributes that to his late sister, Marian. “She had gay friends, and I thought if this is OK with her, then it is OK,” Mario shares.
Despite his confidence, there was still a worry about being openly out in the entertainment industry. “Going to LA right after college, a guy at a gay bar told me, ‘Don’t tell anyone you’re gay if you are an actor,’” adding there was a slight fear of being called the F word going up on stage. Unfortunately, it happened one too many times, recalls Mario, but as he does, he turned it into a moment of comedy relief. He recalls a story Michael Patrick King likes to tell, in which Mario was heckled by an audience member who called him the F word. He quickly reacted using the metal exit door on the side of the stage as a prop. “I just kicked the door open and said ‘Get out of my house!’”
If anything overshadows his boldness, it’s Mario’s humor. He says he has been inspired by comedians like Robert Klein, Lily Tomlin, and Craig Russel. He shares how different characteristics of each comedian on stage, like Russel’s impeccable impersonations and Tomlin’s non-use of props when doing her concerts, have inspired his own on-stage persona.
Mario says another component to his humor is his family, noting how his mother and her side of the family, as well as his sister and her gay best friend were some of the funniest people he’s met.
Another special person in Mario’s life is his husband and partner of over 30 years, Jerry Dixon. “He is a very loving and good guy,” Mario shares, adding that he enjoys making breakfast for Jerry every morning. In fact, he notes that COVID was big for their relationship. “We were together for 385 days, and we had an incredible time.” In his opinion, the secret to a healthy partnership “is giving each other space, freedom, being confident in our silence with each other, and handling each other’s mood.”
You can’t talk about Mario’s success without discussing “Sex and the City,” and most recently the HBO Max reboot, “And Just Like That…” Stepping back into the role of Anthony Marentino, Charlotte’s best friend, Mario shares how scary it was. “You don’t know if you are doing it right.” His uncertainty, like many others, came after the last time we saw the iconic characters of Carrie, Miranda, and Charlotte, which was in 2010. Over 10 years after the franchise’s last film, this evolution of the story brought new storylines, including a new career for Mario’s character as an owner of a bakery called, Hot Fellas.
“Oh I love it!” he shares, adding he is a real-life baker and even sells his own lemon cake to a bakery nearby. When it comes to the evolution of his character, Mario says contrary to learning new things from Anthony, “I taught him a few things this season.”
From connecting back with the cast after so long and seeing everyone’s growth to dealing with the loss of Willie Garson who played Mario’s on-screen husband, he feels that stepping back into the role required he and the rest of the cast bring in qualities from the growth they have had over all these years.
As Mario looks forward to what new stories can be told through the lens of his character, he is rejoicing in the renewal of “And Just Like That…,” sharing, “I am lucky it came back at this time in my life.”
As to where you can see him next, Mario will be a guest star on “Girls5Eva,” streaming on Peacock; the popular game-show, “Pyramid;” hosting a two- night encore stand up at Café Carlyle on June 3-4; and “And Just Like That…” season 2—stay tuned!
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