Paseo Miramar resident Adam Lorenzo has written a witty and amusing book All I Need to Know I Learned from My College Bar, which might make the perfect gift for someone headed to college – or even someone who just finished school.
While many might be tackling the 600-page The Gulag Archipelago – Volume 1, Lorenzo’s clever text, with hilarious illustrations by Antonio Pinna, is just what one needs for summer light reading at the beach and in airports.
Lorenzo, a sitcom/movie writer, might not seem like the perfect person to dispense wisdom learned from a watering hole. But he not only worked in a bar while attending Syracuse University, but he also owned one.
He worked at “Maggies Tavern” and when the owner retired, he made Lorenzo a deal. He would hold the promissory note, and Lorenzo would make monthly payments, with a balloon payment at the end.
As Lorenzo points out, “this was not Hollywood money, it’s upstate New York money.” But still, to own a bar as a student is a major step up from work-study.
He graduated from Syracuse in 1995. While at the bar, Lorenzo started writing and sending jokes to well-known comedians.
At the time, the woman he was dating was friends with a nun. The nun told Lorenzo that life was precious and that he should pursue his dream.
“I sent jokes to David Letterman,” Lorenzo said. “He moved me out here and put me on the staff of The Late Late Show, where he was the executive producer.”
While writing on Letterman, Lorenzo was chatting with his barber, who said he knew a producer on the hit sitcom series Everybody Loves Raymond. Lorenzo asked the barber to give his business card to the guy.
He eventually did meet with the producers but was told there was no availability.
Lorenzo got a second shot with the show, thanks to Ray Romano’s belief in the luck of cannoli, and the nun.
A New York baker FedEx’d cannoli to L.A. on tape nights for Romano’s comedy show.
One day the cannoli came, and it included a note from a nun. “I know a guy who just moved to Los Angeles named Adam Lorenzo. And if you ever run into him, please give him an interview for a job.”
He was invited to pitch ideas and he sold his first sitcom episode “Crazy Chin” to Romano.
He joined the Writers Guild in 1999. “I’ve been writing sitcoms and movies ever since,” said Lorenzo, who wrote this book during the pandemic.
“I had just sold a movie called The Prayer Box that was looking good to get into production,” Lorenzo said. “Then the world shut down.”
He said had this book idea when he was college and “It’s been baking in my brain ever since.”
He met the owner of Purple Rain Illustrators Ella Lupo, who put him in touch with several illustrators.
“My favorite was Antonio Pinna. His illustrations are often in The New Yorker,” Lorenzo said. “Antonio knocked it out of the park, he’s hilarious and has a style I never saw before.”
Pinna lives in Milan, Italy, and the two never met, but “the humor translated.”
On social media, the book has also started The #CollegeBarChallenge. People say their name, college and the best thing they learned from their college bar.
“I got some friends to join,” Lorenzo said and that includes Al Franken, Jean Kelly from Top Gun: Maverick, Tom Arnold from FUBAR and Chumlee from Pawn Stars on the History Channel.
In addition to promoting his book, he is now on the picket line with other Hollywood writers.
Lorenzo is working on a comic strip based on a book idea, illustrated by the Brooke Bourgeois – a cartoonist for The New Yorker. The writer says “We will take that to market post-strike.”
Another project on hold is a screenplay he recently wrote with filmmaker David Twohy. He said the two are neighbors and picket together, but that Twohy “lives in a house with a drawbridge and moat.”
He also has an animated comedy movie that producer Paul Green (former president of Anonymous Content and also a Palisadian) plans to market “when we all get back to work.”
Growing up in Buffalo, he also went to Ithaca High School for a year. Lorenzo summed up that experience in two words, “so cold.”
About attending college in Syracuse, where he majored in English, he told CTN “Just as cold.”
Now, “I hike every morning. All my neighbors will vouch that I never miss a day. L.A. is home now. Thank, God!”