Subscriber Only

Singer Gonzalez brings Fabulous Laugh Pack to Smyrna


SMYRNA — Providing a one-stop shop for entertainment, The Fabulous Laugh Pack will perform at The Smyrna Opera House on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

The evening of comedy, peppered with magic, music and even ventriloquism, is suitable for the whole family.

Comedian Mark Riccadonna will guide audiences through the show, featuring singer Justin Gonzalez, magician Eric Jones and comic ventriloquist John “Gemini” Lombardi.

“Our idea is not to try to pretend to be the Rat Pack with Frank (Sinatra), Dean (Martin) and Sammy (Davis Jr.), although our ventriloquist is a lot more like Jerry Lewis, but you can’t go wrong with that. It’s a fantastic show. Everyone’s going to go away happy. No one’s going to go home disappointed because there is something for everybody,” said Mr. Gonzalez, best known to local audiences as the lead singer for the 33 1/3 Live Killer Queen Experience, which has played multiple times at the opera house and the Milton Theatre.

The idea for the Laugh Pack started during pandemic shutdown days, when entertainers were doing a lot of Zoom shows and podcasts. Mr. Gonzalez and Mr. Riccadonna, a comedian who has traveled the world with USO shows and is a contributing writer to the “Weekend Update” segment on “Saturday Night Live,” met during a podcast. Mr. Riccadonna complimented Mr. Gonzalez on how funny he was.

“He said, ‘So how long have you been doing stand-up comedy?’ I said, ‘Well, I don’t do stand-up comedy. I’m a singer. I just tell funny stories in between the songs.’ And he said, ‘You know the funny parts between the songs? That’s stand-up comedy,” remembered Mr. Gonzalez.

The two formed a bond and wanted to work together.

“I said, ‘Me being a singer that’s funny and you being the comedian — it would be cool if we could do almost like an old-school vaudeville variety show but with a little bit of the Rat Pack flavor in it. But it’s a little more hip, and it’s not so Catskills kind of cornball,” Mr. Gonzalez said.

Through Mr Riccadonna’s showbiz connections, other entertainers came onboard, and The Fabulous Laugh Pack was born. The show has played all over the tri-state area and elsewhere, and may even get to Las Vegas at some point soon.

Mr. Jones, its magician, has appeared on “America’s Got Talent” and “Penn & Teller: Fool Us,” while Mr. Lombardi has been a top headliner at the Borgata Casino in New Jersey, the Parx Casino in Pennsylvania and Carolines on Broadway in New York.

For his part, Mr. Gonzalez is nicknamed “The Human Jukebox,” due to his ability to sing everything from opera to standards to rock.

“In the first half of the show, I sing a Sinatra song; I sing a song by Queen; and then, I sing something from the opera catalog. And that’s all just in my first 20 minutes,” he said. “So then, after intermission is when we play my little game, ‘The Human Jukebox,’ where I have six cards in my hand, all of which have a different song title on the back of them. And I ask the audience to pick three, and those are the ones that I sing.”

Growing up in Philadelphia under meager circumstances, Mr. Gonzalez didn’t consider music to be a viable career for him.

“Some don’t get a seat at the table. I never even knew there was a table,” he said.

At 13, he was invited to join a chorus as a soloist in Germany and France. In that two weeks, he performed in many castles, mansions and historic houses of worship, including the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.

At the same time, he was working on classical pieces, so he had “all of these different cultures swimming around.”

“With my father being Puerto Rican and my mother being Pennsylvania Dutch and Lithuanian, I thought, for the first 10 years of my life, that my last name was spelled with a question mark,” he joked.

Growing up, he listened to the music of the 1970s and 1980s, Latin tunes and even the compositions on “The Lawrence Welk Show.”

A career in opera looked in the cards for Mr. Gonzalez, 35, until he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2006. The condition made it hard for him to keep up the grind of an opera singer.

“The difficulty with opera is that you are literally on the road for nine months out of the year. While you’re doing an opera in September, you are studying the opera that you’re doing in November,” he said. “And so the six weeks that you’re doing this opera through September, in the beginning of October, you’re crossing over with another opera with all different notes and different words and different languages sometimes, and I realized that I was having difficulty keeping things straight.”

With the help of “security blankets,” such as notes or a teleprompter, Mr. Gonzalez remains an in-demand tenor in opera and in popular music, especially with the still-active Queen show. With those genre-stretching songs, he gets to flex both his rock and operatic muscles.

“I remember being a kid and driving in our green Aerostar on my way to pick up my sister from cheerleading practice and just hearing all this beautiful music coming out of my parents’ radio speakers. And then realizing, years later, the band that does ‘Crazy Little Thing Called Love’ and ‘Radio Gaga’ and ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ and ‘I Want to Break Free,’ they’re all the same band. That’s insane,” he said.

“Now, I get to perform that music for people, and we get to enjoy all of those varying styles together on stage.”

Mr. Gonzalez said he recently performed The Fabulous Laugh Pack show at the Milton Theatre and was gratified that many audience members knew him from the Queen tribute.

“That was really great to see. We had a great time,” he said.

There are a limited amount of dinner tickets for Saturday’s show available. The catered meal starts at 5:15.

Tickets can be obtained at, by calling 302-653-4236 or by stopping by the box office at 7 W. South St.

Members and subscribers make this story possible.
You can help support non-partisan, community journalism.