Goumba Johnny at Empire Casino, 7/26

Goumba Johnny AKA John Sialiano brings his stand-up comedy routine to Empire City Casio at Yonkers Raceway on July 26.

Goumba Johnny Returns Home to Headline at Empire Casino


by David Greene

One-time Bronxite John Sialiano, known to millions in the tri-state area as Dee-jay Goumba Johnny, returns home where the comedian and actor will headline the Empire City Casino’s Comedy night on Wednesday, July 26.

Sialiano who spent his first 11 years growing up along Seymour Avenue near East Gun Hill Road, fondly recalls, “I’m one of those Bronx – Yonker’s guys.” Before adding, “I had the best of both worlds.”

Goumba Johnny hosted his popular radio show on WKTU-FM from 1996 through 2011 and will soon mark his 20th year as a stand-up performer. This week he headlines at Empire, which is less than a mile from from where his spent his teenage years, at his home near Tibbetts Brook Park.

Now having more time to perform, Sialiano says, “Radio was good, it was a lot of fun. The listeners were the best part of it for me, interacting with the listeners. It was great because when you perform as a Dee-jay at the radio station, there’s no audience. You know your talking to maybe a million people, but you can’t see any of them.”

He continues, “But as a comedian your audience is right in front of you, so I always found that very, very interesting that I had both jobs. If I told a joke on the radio, I didn’t even know if anybody laughed. I didn’t even know if they thought I was funny. But when your doing comedy, your standing right there and you get the instant reaction. So both of the careers kind of fed each other, it worked out nicely for me.”

Throwback: Goumba Johnny hosts a promotional event for WKTU Radio.

Throwback: Goumba Johnny hosts a promotional event for WKTU Radio.

Sialiano fondly recalls his Bronx roots, offering, “I was just looking at pictures from the internet… of Gun Hill Road where you’d get the 5-Train, I use to shine shoes outside there and went to Holy Rosary.”

“I have great memories living in a 4-story walk up,” he partially jokes, before continuing, “It was just really very enriching childhood I had,” visiting the Post Arrow Movie Theater on Boston Post Road with friends or as a child in the 1960’s, visiting the Freedomland amusement park, which is now Co-Op City.

Giving a glimpse into his childhood, Sialiano recalled, “My greatest memory is of family and friends. People hung outside and hung out their windows and you had to go outside to meet people and communicate, not like it is today and the Bronx was a different place and it was a different time.”

Asked about the material in his show, he offers, “I just talk about experiences that I’ve had. You know, I have bits that come at the expense of my wife, unfortunately for her and there are bits that come at my expense, so one thing about telling a joke, there’s always some kind of victim to get to the punchline.”

The comedian, who’s been featured in three films, as well as appearances on “Guiding Light” and “As the World Turns,” explained, “I love entertaining and it’s a great feeling when you can actually get off the stage after  45 minutes or an hour and somebody comes up to you and says, ‘I needed that, you made my day. I needed to laugh.'”

Sialiano says, “I don’t do a lot of political jokes, like I’ll write a joke here and there about something that maybe current that people are talking about, like maybe O.J. (Simpson) getting paroled or something like that.” His wife and five nieces are also a major source of material.

He adds, “I’m not Sinefeld, but I’ll make you laugh.”

Goumba Johnny  headlines Empire Casino’s Comedy Night on Wednesday, July 26, and he’ll be joined by fellow comedian Graham Kay and MC’d by fellow Bronxite Angelo Lozada. Tickets for the show are $5 for members and $25 for non-members and can be purchased by calling (914) 968-4200.

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