John Caponera

John Caponera '79 (Communications/Theater) is an actor and comedian who has starred on his own network TV show and has a very successful career as a stand-up comic.

A native of Chicago's south side, John is best known for his impersonation of legendary Chicago Cubs broadcaster Harry Caray. John's love of baseball is what led him to Lewis University, but by the time he graduated he had a new passion.

"My two high school baseball coaches graduated from Lewis and they talked to me about checking out Lewis. They told me it was a great baseball school and I wanted to play baseball in college, so I applied to Lewis and got in."

After playing baseball his freshman year, under legendary coach Gordie Gillespie, John played summer ball under new coach Tom Dedin before his sophomore year. John, who played shortstop, needed glasses, but didn't know it.

"I wasn't seeing the ball coming off the bat until it was right on top of me and I made a few errors. Coach wouldn't play me and by the time I got glasses, my fate had already been decided."

During John's sophomore year he was approached by Brother Ray Berta about going out for a part in a play he was directing. Brother Ray liked what he saw from John in his oral interpretation class and thought he would be a natural on stage.

"I went out for the play and landed the part of Billy Bibbit in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest." The show became a huge success on campus and I caught the acting bug from that. So I started going out for more plays and left the baseball dream in the dust."

During his senior year at Lewis, John had a project where he had to deliver a comedy monologue. While other students chose to use the acts of Richard Pryor and Robin Williams, John created his own act. The act went over so well in the classroom that his friend told him about a talent show that was being held at a bar in Joliet. John won the talent show and took home $500. This led him to start doing stand-up comedy in the area.

John became a regular at the Comedy Room in Lyons, which led to him opening for other comedians on the road. John got his big break when he made it to Star Search. During his run on Star Search, John decided that he had done all he could do in the midwest and that he needed to move out to Los Angeles to take that next step in his career.

While doing a show at the Comedy Store, John caught the eye of the president of NBC. That led to John being offered a spot on his own TV series on NBC. "The Good Life" debuted after the Super Bowl in January of 1994. After the show's run, John continued to land acting roles while still doing his stand-up comedy. He returns to Chicago every Thanksgiving to do shows at Zanies Comedy Club. John credits Lewis for sparking his love of acting/comedy.

"If I didn't realize I could be an actor at Lewis, I would have never pursued it. I had a great time at Lewis."

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