The New-Times

"I was a real sponge," said comedian Johnny Lampert, who will be performing at Stage Door Productions' comedy show and dinner buffet on Feb 8. "I lived at home with my parents until I was 31."

In his routines, Lampert likes to reminisce about those "good old days" while living in Haworth, N.J.

"I had a great 10-year run after college that I don't regret for a minute," said Lampert, who now lives in Rockland County, N.Y. He didn't have to pay rent or buy food, and was allowed to borrow his parents' car anytime he wanted.

"When the most responsible thing you have to do all day is remember to defrost a steak for your mother, you know you're living large," he said.

"On those occasions when my mother would not only get my mail but open it for me, she really threw my day out of whack—I had absolutely nothing to do."

The show is at the Portuguese Cultural Center in Danbury. The Feb. 8 event begins with a dinner at 6:30 pm. The show follows at 8:30 p.m. Opening for Lampert is comedian Tom McTiernan, who grew up on Long Island as one of eight children. McTiernan has opened for Kevin Meaney and Robert Klein, and can be seen at The Broadway Comedy Club and Stand Up-New York.

Maria Zargo of Brookfield, president and founder of Stage Door Productions, said "This is the fourth dinner stand-up comedy show I have booked at the center. Going forward, I plan to hold these shows on a monthly basis."

Lampert has been performing for the past 20 years. He's been all over the East Coast, as well as California, Chicago, Tennessee, Arizona, Michigan and New Mexico.

Previous gigs include shows at the "Improv" in Los Angeles, Calif., as well as "Comic Strip Live" and "Caroline's On Broadway." He's also appeared on MTV and HBO's "Comedy Showcase."

For a brief period in the mid-90's, Lampert became friendly with several up-and-coming actors and comedians, one of whom was Ray Romano. Lampert met Romano while in Manhattan when the two both had development deals for sitcoms. They also had the same acting teacher.

In describing Romano's personality, Lampert said, "He's a lot like he was on his TV show — a little neurotic in a funny way." Ironically, Lampert said Romano also seemed reluctant in his abilities as an actor, and didn't think he (Romano) had a chance ofmaking it big.

Discussing bis own career. Lampert said he believes he's a unique comedian in that he has done a lot of gigs most comics would have walked out on, such as one at a high school graduation pool party at a private residence in Westchester County, N.Y.

That was about ten years ago. When none of the kids would get out of the pool after Lampert's arrival, he climbed onto the diving board and did his routine from there. "I thought it would be the closest thing to a stage," he said.

These days, though, Lampert said since he's a much more established comic, he's become a little pickier about what jobs hell take. I'll only consider indoor pools now," he said.

Lampert regrets to say his mooching days are finally over. "Unfortunately, I fell in love and it ruined my good run," he said.

" All those years, I regretted when the day would come that I would have to pay bills, do chores and take care of children like all other responsible parents do," he said. "I'm happy to report that everything I was worried about came true."

He now greatly enjoys joking about his current family life with his wife, Debbie, a kindergarten teacher, and his daughters Rachel and Jenna. "All through elementary school, Rachel has been coming home with a multitude of artwork, paintings and sculptures," Lampert said.

"I have to tell you, she's not very good." He joked that he really doesn't want to hang up his daughter's work on the refrigerator anymore. "I tell her 'Oops, sorry, no more magnets!'"

In all his routines, Lampert said he tries to keep his humor as spontaneous as possible and tailors it to the personality of his audience. "I always roll with it and keep things fresh," he said.

- Sandra Diamond Fox