Five Decades With Uncle Floyd

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Usually when describing someone in show business, you can call him “actor”, or “musician”, or “comedian”, but in the case of Uncle Floyd Vivino, all categories apply. I first found “The Uncle Floyd Show” on a cable access channel, sometime in the late 1970s. Adult humor in the guise of a children’s show, it featured comedic characters, musical acts, and Oogie the puppet. Floyd’s interaction with off-screen staff and the occasional mishap like the collapsing of the set’s backdrop lent a casual atmosphere to the show that was uniquely funny. In the early 1980s, we followed his show to WNBC late night in the metro New York area as part of a national syndication effort that, for the first time, introduced Floyd to a national audience.

In a movie theater watching “Good Morning, Vietnam” starring Robin Williams, we were pleasantly surprised to see “our” Uncle Floyd playing the part of one of the soldiers. Our local treasure got a role in a major motion picture! A few years later, Floyd appeared on the big screen again in “Crazy People”. While overall the movie wasn’t well-received, Floyd’s performance of the “Hello Song” was a memorable moment of cinema magic.

Through the 1990s we saw Floyd perform locally at comedy clubs and concert venues. His part stand-up, part music act was as entertaining for the college crowd as it was for my elderly in-laws. A funny story about a late night at White Castle. A self-deprecating description of his movie career. A conversation with Oogie the puppet. But it’s Floyd’s musicianship that really sets him apart. We’ve seen plenty of other comedy acts that include a bit of guitar strumming or banging out some keyboard chords, but none come close to Floyd’s virtuosic chops at the piano. Local lore has described him as a child prodigy, and I don’t doubt it for a minute.

We saw a more serious side of Floyd in the 2000s when he played dinner music in an Italian restaurant. He breezed through Louis Prima classics and an eclectic selection of standards injecting a stride piano style that sounded like a man with four hands. Floyd is also an avid record collector and hosted a radio show called “The Italian-American Serenade”, playing music from his personal collection.

In the 2010s we can still find Uncle Floyd playing a week night in a club, a weekend show at one of the local concert halls, or on his “Uncle Floyd Radio Show”. From TV comedian, to stand-up comic, to movie actor, to radio host, and musician, this Jersey-born icon is one entertainer who really has done it all.

Published by J Reilly

I've been writing the Boozy Lifestyle blog since 2014 and recently expanded upon it to create my new book, Boozy Lifestyle: Elevate The Everyday With Booze As Your Muse. The book is a collection of stories celebrating and inspiring everyday life with entertaining tales of wine, food, booze, travel, and family, and including over 50 food and drink recipes. Visit me on Twitter at J Reilly@Boozy_Lifestyle or BoozyLifestyle.com

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