Cantu's first love was coaching - helping beginners break-in with a minimum of sweat, pain, and anguish; as well as providing professional guidance for the journeyman performer/speaker/writer. It is said that Cantu helped launched the career of more working comics and comedy writers than any other comedy coach in the San Francisco Bay Area. As one performer said to Cantu, "I can't scratch my nose in a comedy club greenroom without bumping my elbow into at least one or two other comics who've worked with you." Cantu had more than twenty-five years comedy/humor/performing experience:
- Comedy Coach: Stand-up students headlining in clubs and performing on television.
- Writing students have written for major comics and have also written books.
- Performer: Three years as a stand-up comedian and numerous appearances as an actor on stage, in film, and video;
- Producer: Nightclubs, radio, and television.
- Public speaker: Has spoken before many Bay Area organizations and nationwide;
- Publisher: Has published and edited several newsletters;
- Trainer: Produced hundreds of weekly comedy writing and comedy performing workshops;
- Writer: Written for Ad agencies, cartoonists, comedians, greeting card publishers, public speakers, has written freelance articles about humor, comedy, and comedians.
While running the "Holy City Zoo", Cantu began teaching comedy writing and comedy performing. In the mid-eighties, he began working with Patricia Fripp, past president of the National Speakers Association, to help her increase the effectiveness of her humor in her presentations to such clients as Ford Heavy Truck, Levi Strauss, and IBM.
Cantu co-presented workshops with Fripp on presentation skills and humor. Other alumnae of Cantu's seminars and classes include Malcolm Kushner (Humor consultant & author "The Light Touch"; & "Public Speaking for Dummies)," Mike Iapoce, (E UH POE CHEE) author of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Boardroom, Stu Silverstein M.D. (Humorist speaker on medical topics), Mark S A Smith (Co-Author "Guerrilla Trade Show Selling," & "Guerrilla Teleselling") and Orvel Ray Wilson (Coauthor "Guerrilla Selling").
John Cantu has also collaborated with Malcolm Kushner, on consulting work for corporate clients such as South Bay Water District and International Data Group Inc.
As a professional speaker Cantu has given presentations to organizations such the IRS - Austin, Texas Branch, National Speakers Association - San Francisco & Sacramento chapters, Deloitte & Touche San Francisco and Sacramento branches, and San Francisco University MBA program.
Performers: David Feldman (Stand-up comedian; Roseanne staff writer); The Mommies; Mitch Mullaney (Lead in Nick Freno: Licensed Teacher - Warner Brothers sitcom)
Writers: Michael Bass, M.D. (Writer for Bob Hope); Norm Goldblatt (Writer for Jay Leno); Michael Iapoce (Author A funny Thing Happened on The Way To The Podium); Malcolm Kushner (Author: The Light Touch; Successful Presentation Skills for Dummies); Karen Warner (Author: San Francisco Trivia Book, Bartender’s Joke Book; and What’s So funny About Being Catholic? Writer for Rodney Dangerfield)
Nightclubs: Boarding House Comedy Room, Cobb's Pub, Curtain Call, The Holy City Zoo, Mart Bar & Grill, Punchline, and Rose & Thistle Upstairs. Performers at his shows have included A. Whitney Brown, Dana Carvey, Margaret Cho, Kevin Meany, Mark Pitta, Paula Poundstone, Rick Reynolds, Jerry Seinfeld, Bobby Slayton, Carrie Snow, Robin Williams.
Radio: Producer and host for weekly interview show Looking for The Laughs in San Francisco (KALW public radio). Television: Producer for Marin 11, monthly half-hour showcase featuring three stand-up comics.
Workshops: Has produced hundreds of comedy writing and stand-up comedy workshops.
Auditions: Hosted San Francisco auditions For America's Funniest People, Fernwood Tonight, The New Laugh-In Show, Saturday Night Live, and for more than fifty other producer, agents, and production companies.
Articles and Columns:
Artbeat, City Arts, Galleria Times, Restauranteur, Richmond Review, Toastmasters Magazine.
Ad Copy & Collateral Material:
Print: Ad-lib Nightclub, North to Alaska (Board game); Cobb’s Pub, Comedy Day Celebration, Mart Bar & Grill, Richardson’s Furniture Store, San Francisco Chinese Orchestra.
Radio spots: Crown Carpets, KYA/KSFO, Norcal Yachts, Ron Good Toyota, Santa Clara Water District, Student Body Health Club.
Writer for many leading cartoon panels and strips including Bound and Gagged, Frank and Ernest, Grin & Bare It, Marmaduke, Time Out, Trim’s Arena, Trudy, Ziggy and Zoonies. Also, more than 1000 cartoons based on Cantu’s ideas have been drawn by freelance artists and published in leading publications including Barron’s, Cosmopolitan, New Woman, Playboy, Playgirl, Reader’s Digest, and The Wall Street Journal.
Writer, editor, publisher
Humor Helper (twice yearly with four-year expansion plan for monthly publication); Past newsletters have included Comedy Newsletter (twice yearly), Cantu’s Humor Helper (twice yearly), Cheap Laughs (monthly), Comedy/Update (25 times a year), Holy City Zoo Newsletter (monthly). Cantu is a former Associate Editor of Laugh Factory Magazine.
Cantu’s fillers have appeared in Catholic Digest, Changing Times, Reader’s, Digest, Playboy and Saturday Evening Post
Greeting Card Ideas
Curtis-Swan, Paper Moon Graphics, Pike Communications, Portal Publications.
For more than a decade Cantu supplied one-liners for many humor services including Cheap Laughs, Cheep Laughs, Comedy Today, Comedy/Update, Contemporary Comedy, Orben’s Comedy Fillers, and Orben’s Current Comedy.
Phyllis Diller, Will Durst, John “Dr Gonzo” Means”, Kevin Meany, Gary Owens, Joan Rivers, Wil Shriner, Rip Taylor and other comedians.
Odds & Ends
“All I need to Know About Life I learned From StarTrek” poster for Portal Publications; Castlewalk (full length film feature), Murder at 45 RPM’s (Televison one-hour script); and a variety of odd-ball projects too complex, arcane, or weird to list (Some of them make interesting cocktail party stories, though).
Patricia Fripp CSP, CPAE, Malcolm Kushner (Humor Consultant), and Stu Silverstein, M.D.
Stage: Has had roles in more than twenty stage productions including the Juggler in Madwoman of Chaillot and Stephen in Major Barbara;
Film & Television: All American Boy with Jon Voight; Entertainment Tonight; Great American Laugh Off; Unsolved Mysteries (featured role); Starcades (Game show contestant)
Cantu’s been quoted in Business Week, San Francisco Examiner, and Writer’s Digest.
He’s been featured in Just for Laughs, Richmond Independent, San Francisco Business Times, San Francisco Chronicle (multiple articles) and The San Jose Mercury.
Michael Iapoce (Author of A funny Thing Happened on The Way To The Podium) dedicated the book to Cantu and Malcolm Kushner, (former student and author of Successful Presentation Skills for Dummies) used Cantu’s class notes for the book (with permission) and liberally quotes Cantu throughout the book.
Cantu was a founding producer of Comedy Day Celebration which now draws more than 30,000 people to Golden Gate Park annually.
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