Celebrity Families

Ray Romano is still taking comedy inspiration from his family 23 years later

And they don't seem to mind!

By Rebel Wylie
Ray Romano is back on our screens with his first stand-up comedy special in 23 years, and once again it's his kids and family inspiring the jokes.
In the Netflix special Right Here, Around the Corner, which airs early February, the Everybody Loves Raymond star goes back to his roots in New York City by walking into the comedy bar where it all began - the Comedy Cellar - for an unannounced pop-in set, where he delivered a half-hour set to a delighted audience, before leaving and heading to the Village Underground for another 30 minute unannounced set to more unsuspecting comedy fans.
Ray Romano's family have been supporting him on and off screen throughout his illustrious career. Image: Getty.
Surprising the audience was part of the appeal to Romano, who didn't want an audience full of Ray Romano fans for the special.
"It just didn't appeal to me to have tried-and-true Romano fans hooting and hollering at everything you say," Romano told EW. "I just wanted that different energy."
It is the second set at the Village Underground, where 61-year-old Romano takes his comedy back to the winning formula that saw Everybody Loves Raymond see such success, with hilarious jokes about his family, who were there in the audience to watch it all unfold.
"I knew my kids were going to come to one of them, so then I had the idea to have them at the last one and I know of this pizza place, Joe's, down the block and we would just go out like we would on any other night and that would be a cool shot at the end," he told EW.
For Romano family is what it's always been about.
He shares children, Alexandra, 29, twins Gregory and Matthew, 26 and son Joseph, 20 with wife, 55-year old Anna Romano, and it was life at home with a young family that inspired many of the story lines audiences adored on the sitcom that ran from 1996 to 2005.
The family dynamic on Everybody Loves Raymond took inspiration from Ray Romano's real family. Image: Getty.
Romano had been doing stand-up for abut 12 years when a spot on the Letterman Show in 1995, featuring gags about his family, saw the comedian chased down to develop a show around those exact family jokes. And the rest is pop-culture history.
However, before he was married, it was the family he grew up in that first inspired the jokes.
Born in in 1957 to Italian immigrant parents in New York, Ray Romano's home life mimics Ray Barone's in more ways than one.
Romano's mother was a piano teacher named Lucie Romano, while his father Albert Romano was a Real Estate Agent.
He also had an older brother Richard Romano who was a sergeant with the NYPD, and a younger brother Robert – a second-grade teacher at a school in New York City.
WATCH: Ray Romano's twins are both working in television. Continues after video ...
In fact, it was Ray's NYPD sergeant brother who inspired the name of the sitcom.
"It came about from a sarcastic comment my brother made, who is a police officer. And he said, 'look what I do for a living, and look at Raymond, yeah, everybody loves Raymond,'" Romano told EW.
"So we used it as a working title. And it just grew on CBS, and we couldn't get rid of it."
The Romano family came out to support dad, Ray at the launch of his animation hit, Ice Age. Image: Getty.
Romano lived at home until he married his wife, Anna Scarpulla in 1987. The pair met while they were working at a bank together.
In a US 60 Minutes interview, Anna spoke about Romano's skills as a bank teller.
"Wasn't good," she laughed. "He was accurate, but very slow."
The couple welcomed their first child Alexandra Romano in 1990. After three years, their twins Matt Romano and Gregory Romano came into the world. The Romanos welcomed their fourth child, son Joseph Raymond Romano on February 16, 1998.
Seven years ago, Romano confirmed that he was supporting his wife, Anna as she battled with stage one breast cancer after the doctor discovered a lump in her breast at age 48.
The Romano kids look set for careers in the entertainment industry too. Image: Getty.
And it was family life with the kids that helped create the dynamic of the Barone family on Everybody Loves Raymond.
In the show, Ray Barone is a sports columnist for the local newspaper. He is married to his wife Debra Barone whom he has three children with, a daughter Ally and twin boys Michael and Geoffrey.
In fact, the twins on the show were originally going to be called Greg and Matthew, but with Romano's real twins often on set it would have created confusion, so the names Geoffrey and Michael were used instead.
Ray Romano and wife Anna with daughter, Alexandra. Image: Getty.
Romano's children look set to follow their dad into the entertainment industry. Alexandra provided a voice in Ice Age: Continental Drift in 2012 as well as making an appearance on Everybody Loves Raymond in 1996.
Twins, Greg and Matt are both actors and writers working in the industry as well. Often the butt of their dad's jokes, they've developed the kind of thick-skin needed to survive.
As for his family's involvement in his latest Netflix special, for Ray it was a no-brainer.
"I liked the idea of the family being there at the end. I don't want to get overly schmaltzy with it; it's kind of bringing it back to what it all means and is all about."

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