Steve Schirripa had it made long before he became a made guy as Bobby "Bacala" Baccalieri on "The Sopranos."
Although he grew up poor in Brooklyn's
rough Bensonhurst neighborhood, Schirripa took
out loans to pursue his college degree at Brooklyn
College, then high-tailed it to Las Vegas in search
of his future. He worked his way up the food service
industry to become director of entertainment at
the comedy club atop the Riviera Hotel and Casino,
the kind of job most guys would kill for. There,
he gave a start to such up-and-coming talents
as David Spade, Denis Leary, Pauly Shore and the
Then, a really funny thing happened:
His comedian friends started writing parts for
the bearlike Schirripa in their HBO comedy specials.
Soon, Schirripa himself had an agent, one who
urged him not to take a gamble on a new offbeat
HBO series called "The Sopranos." Schirripa,
however, not only loved the camaraderie of the
cast but recognized it as his ticket to bigger
Now approaching its series finale,
"The Sopranos" has been precisely the
springboard Schirripa had hoped for: Not only
is he a frequent correspondent for "The Tonight
Show with Jay Leno" and host of Spike TV's
"Casino Cinema," he has launched a series
of wiseguy wisdom books that includes "A
Goomba's Guide to Life," "The Goomba's
Book of Love" and his latest, "The Goomba
A sampling of goomba etiquette:
Do tip the maid; don't tip the made guy. Do tip
the DJ; don't tip the DA. Do tell the bride she's
beautiful; don't tell her she's hardly showing.
Bankrate: Contrary to the public's perception, a goomba is actually pretty good with money.
Oh yeah, absolutely. A friend of mine's father,
an Italian guy, got an eighth-grade education,
and by the time the guy died he owned about 10
houses in the neighborhood, just nice and easy,
collect the rents and shuffle around the neighborhood.
And a goomba likes to spend money; you don't get
that many cheap goombas. They tip big, they spend
big and eat big, but a lot of these guys legally
have done very well for themselves with plumbing
businesses, limo companies, construction. They're
The public, of course, thinks that successful
goombas must be mobbed up.
Well, of course. That's what my books are about.
We hit that stereotype on the head; we're making
a joke and laughing about it, but that's not the
case in any way, shape or form.