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Brothers with monkey business

John and Jameson Scalia of Saugus entertain with unique brand of humor

Posted: October 14, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: October 14, 2012 2:00 a.m.

The Brother Monkeys, John and Jameson Scalia, perform at Chronic Taco in Saugus.

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If John and Jameson Scalia have their way, Saugus, a quiet bedroom community in the Santa Clarita Valley, may soon become famous as the home of the Brother Monkeys.

The comedy duo, formerly known as the Ska Brothers, have reinvented themselves as street performers with the slogan, “fun is number one.”

Born in Long Beach, the brothers moved to San Jose in their teens.

John, 36, is a graduate of West Point. “I wanted to contribute to America, my great uncle, who lived in Canyon Country, was a Navy Seal, so there was a family history of military service,” said John.

After graduation John went to helicopter flight school then was stationed in Germany in 1999. He spent four years in Germany.

He achieved the rank of captain in the U.S. Army and was a witness to history when, in December 2001, he became the executive officer to the general who was the chief of staff of the U.S. Army Fifth Corps.

“I got an inside look at the planning of the invasion of Iraq and the planning of the whol e Middle East policy, how it would unfold,” John said. “It was a very enlightening time. I saw a lot of things that never came out in the media, and we were working with the highest levels of government.”

John said the experience influenced his comedy later.

“It was an interesting experience,” he said.

After deciding that the military was not where he wanted to spend his life, John left the military in 2005.

The brothers credit their comedy genes to their father, John Scalia Sr.

“Our dad has a great sense of humor,” Jameson said. “We grew up joking around.”

When John Jr., left the Army in 2005, the brothers decided to take a shot at standup comedy.

In order to get Jameson to try his hand at stand up John told his younger sibling that he had performed at an open mike event at the Mall of America in Minnesota.

The “white lie” inspired Jameson to take the stage for his first outing at the Kings Head in Campbell, in Northern California. His set lasted 15 minutes, a long time for a first standup appearance.

It didn’t go very well, he said.

“People called me names and threw things. I have a video where you can see people throwing things at me,” Jameson said.

John’s first stand up experience was very different, he said. He appeared during a three minute open mic stint at the Comedy Caravan in Louisville, Ky.

“I had a very supportive audience,” he said. “It was exhilarating. I was hooked after the first three minutes.”

As the brothers became established in comedy they developed their unique Ska Brothers characters.

Their comedy heroes are Chris Rock, Steve Martin, Denis Leary and Richard Prior.

“We like aggressive, social commentary comedy,” said John.

Each brother performed individually, but collectively they were known as the Ska Brothers.

They performed at comedy clubs throughout California, including the Hollywood Improv.

Among the highlights of the brothers’ comedy career was headlining the San Jose Improv.

“We got to have our name in lights and have our friends from high school come out and see us,” Jameson said. “We got to throw a party for all our friends, it was great.”

After the Ska Brothers, ran its course the brothers started street performing in the Santa Clarita Valley in April 2010.

As the brothers walked to the nearby coffee house at Haskell Canyon Road and Bouquet Canyon Road, they began developing their Monkey Brothers personas.

“At first people thought it was kind of weird,” said Jameson. “It started getting crazier and crazier, and then people would honk, and we found that they liked it.”

They took the Brother Monkeys on the road, in their Monkey Mobile, to Beverly Hills where they soon attracted a following.

“We started piecing together our act and our characters,” John said. “We started giving people a thumbs up and spreading positive energy.”

After months of building an audience for their street performances they were stopped by a Beverly Hills police officer who told them to leave town, or be arrested.

“We had hundreds of people taking our pictures everywhere we performed,” Jameson said.

However, before they were banished they gained a measure of fame when TMZ, the entertainment and celebrity gossip television program, ran a segment on the Brother Monkeys.

“Our audience is anyone who wants to have fun and a good time,” said Jameson. “When we first started we were very intellectual about our comedy, but now we are about having fun, we do more physical comedy, we’re goofy and make funny faces, do impressions and use music to have a fun experience. It’s a good fun experience.”

The brothers live at what they call Monkey Mountain, in a quiet residential neighborhood in Saugus, with their father.

“We have a very creative atmosphere at Monkey Mountain,” Jameson said.

The brothers now have an agent and are working on several projects.

“We’re also interested in hearing from anyone in the entertainment business in the SCV,” said John.

The Brother Monkeys can often be found, in the afternoons, at the Starbucks at Haskell and Bouquet.

Contact the Brother Monkeys at brothermonkeys@yahoo.com.

mbuttelman@the-signal.com

 

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