The Early Years
At a community park in Sherman Oaks, CA, on yet another boringly beautiful day, Barry and Dan first met. Since then its been a wild ride for these two dashing, talented and seriously hilarious performers.
1980 - Barry and Dan meet in a park in Sherman Oaks, CA
1982 - The guys had played around and done some small shows in Los Angeles and thought it would be fun to hit the road. Barry learned of a Renaissance Festival in Chicago and that seemed as good a goal as any. En route, Dan suggested the name "Raspyni Brothers" and it stuck. The 6-week festival turns into a 5-month tour including the Minnesota and Texas Renaissance Festivals.
After a winter back in California to regroup and process what happened, they decided to do it again. Same festivals, with the addition of the Dickens on the Strand show in Galveston, TX.
1984 - Added in the Los Angeles Renaissance Festival and did the tour again. Barry and Dan win their first International Team Juggling Championship in Las Vegas, NV. Invited to Spain to perform for the King. Lesson learned from this gig: Charge more -- Our fee should be higher than the airfare.
Superstar comedians and musical artists have recognized the Raspyni Brothers' appeal by hand picking them to appear on their national concert tours.
1986 Saw two appearances on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and so beginning five years of national touring opening for Billy Crystal, Robin Williams, many other comedy and musical headliners.
The First Tours Around the World
America and Europe come to know the Raspyni Brothers
In 1988 Dan and Barry win their second International Team Juggling Championship in Denver, CO. and perform at 'The Festival at Ford's' for President Reagan. The brothers continue touring and begin to gear their show towards the corporate audience. In 1988 alone they will make 24 national television appearances.
1990 - Toured with Tom Jones, Patti LaBelle, Tony Bennett, Gary Shandling, and Howie Mandel. Corporate performances across the US and the Caribbean.
The Opening Act Memoirs - 1986 - 1995
Paul Anka, David Brenner, George Burns, Bob Hope, Jay Leno, Dean Martin, Steve Martin, Roseanne, Gary Shandling, and all these stars:
Touring with Robin Williams was truly one of the greatest experiences of our career. Also, one of the scariest! Actually, only the first night - at St. Boneventure University in up state New York - was scary.
His manager, David Steinberg, came up to us right before the show and said, "Boys, if you can get through 15 [of a scheduled 30-minute set] minutes without getting booed off the stage, you will have done a good job. Good Luck."
Nothing like a good confidence booster right before getting introduced. It was a nightmare - only we weren't sleeping.
We did 30 minutes and got a standing ovation. Robin was just off stage laughing louder than anybody. In fact, he watched every show we did and was always very supportive and appreciative. Truly a Class Act.
Stephen Spignesi wrote an EXCELLENT book about Robin Williams called The Robin Williams Scrap Book including a nice chapter about us and our time on the road with Robin. Buy the book -- it is a MUST HAVE for any fan of Robin Williams. Click here and get it from Amazon.Com
Also check out Andy Dougan's new book, Robin Williams, A Biography. He interviewed us and put in some stories about our time on the road with Robin. This is a wonderful and comprehensive look at Robin, his career, and his life. Get it from Amazon.com.
Did you ever see that movie GROUNDHOG DAY? Opening for Tom Jones is sort of like living that movie.
There are usually about 30 people who are not only repeat customers - but they come to every show in a two week run and sit in the exact same seat!
The challenge becomes to make those people laugh and the rest of the crowd will come along for the ride.
Tom is a ball of energy who puts on a first class show.
Our dressing rooms were right next door to his and, as far as we could tell, he never stuffed anything down his pants.
"Mr. Bennett leaves his dressing room at 12 minutes after the hour and likes to walk directly onto the stage without stopping. It is a three minute walk from the dressing room to the stage. Please do exactly 15 minutes." So went our first encounter with Tony's people. They were all very friendly - and punctual.
While we certainly didn't become best friends with Tony Bennett, our experiences with him were very enjoyable. His professional manner and his ability to keep his material updated, made him a favorite with the crowd.
Besides, who else do you know that has an audience composed of people with real blue hair, and dyed blue hair?
"You don't work for me. I don't work for you. We are here doing a show together." This actually came out of Patti's mouth one night in Washington, DC.
Of course she was just being kind. We were the only two white people in the building and our following in Washington, DC isn't that strong.
Patti LaBelle was so sweet and friendly to us during our time together. She would work our name into a song every night when she was thanking people. What a rush to hear that coming from her heavenly voice!
The most stunning moment in her show is when she puts down the microphone and sings solo to a 4,500 seat theatre. If you're alive during this section, you have goose bumps.
The Desert Inn in Las Vegas is one of the nicest and most intimate showrooms in town. And, the perfect setting to "go to school" on Dennis Miller.
The guy is a brilliant writer/performer and, after watching his set for five straight nights, we were able to grasp even the most obscure reference.
In fact, it took a few months for some of his expressions to quit popping up in our everyday conversation.
If you get the chance to catch Dennis Miller Live, don't miss it. Hopefully, we'll be there also!
You really have to watch out when you open for Howie. The guy is a huge kid and he will do stuff to you just to see your reaction.
I (Barry) was performing my ping pong ball spitting routine one night in Canada as part of our set. As I sucked the first ball into my mouth from the bowl of water, my lips tightened, my eyes watered, and I felt like time had stopped. Howie had gotten to my bowl before the show and replaced the water with vinegar.
The room fell silent from the look on my face - silent except for a howl of laughter from Howie coming from the stage - right wing.
Another time in Lake Tahoe, NV, we all got onto a bus to go on an outing. (The guy is completely generous and shared many of his star-perks with us - see photo at upper-left!).
Anyway, on this trip about five of us are sitting on the bus and Howie says, "What's this?" as he starts pulling mylar confetti from his shorts. "Oh I forgot," he continues, "there was a party in my pants last night and I forgot to clean up."
Turns out that before he left his room, he thought through the "bit" and set it up. His wife Teri, who was on the bus with us, must have been so proud.
But, professionally speaking, watching Howie is like getting a 75 minute lecture from a genius professor. His knack with comedy formulas, call backs, timing, and improvisation is unsurpassed.
We've had so many good times with Howie, but we weren't even near him when we saw just how generous he could be.
We were watching his cartoon Bobby's World one day and Bobby raised his hand in class to ask the teacher, MRS. RASPYNI, a question. Very cool! Thanks, Howie
We have found ourselves in situations where you just have to say, "How did we get here?"
Opening for Lou Rawls was one of those times.
He is a legend. A star performer who has been famous since the day we were born. He has lasted through generations of fans and still packs the theatre full every night.
His audience was very good for us. They were a very vocal group and we could feel their collective anticipation throughout our set.
Shortly after a one-week run in Las Vegas with Lou, he was performing in the Bay Area and, knowing that we live there, invited us to the show.
Is it just us, or was that a very cool thing for him to do?
Better than getting to open for Dana Carvey, was getting to WATCH Dana Carvey perform night after night. Anything could happen - and something always did.
In Las Vegas the "Church Lady" would burst onto the stage and pass judgement on the throngs of beautiful women (and what they were wearing) in the front rows.
His routines are current and cutting edge. The impressions are so real that at one point, you have to remind yourself that it's not Bill Clinton down on all fours yelling at Hillary to spank him like a wild pig.
At the end of his act he picks up an electric guitar and improvises a song based on a couple from the audience. His spontaneity, especially during this routine, brought tears of laughter to the eyes of many in his audience.
Off stage Dana is about as unpretentious as possible. He always seemed interested in what we were doing, where we were working, who we knew... We thought he was being friendly, but as it turns out, he stole our entire database.
1992 - Corporate audiences demand, "More Raspyni" and Barry and Dan answer the call with over 100 personal appearances. The pump has been primed and the system is running strong.
2000 - Our first of 6 TED Talks. We have been blessed to appear so many times at this world-class conference without having ever invented, cured, or theorized anything at all.
From our first contact with the TED Conference in 2000, through their current home in Vancouver, BC, we've been honored to be a part of the TED family. We've had the role of court jesters, playing counterpoise to all the seriousness, highbrow conversations, and inspiring moments.
1994 - 2016 - Over 12,000,000 Corporate Audience Members Served! Is your group next? Click that little button below and let's talk.