"Dude, my taste buds have nothing to do with my manliness," says Ricci. "I don't think it has anything to do with the field of battle. Like when it comes down to your courage, does it matter if you like spicy wings or mild wings? You're gonna be getting your ass beat, and you'll be like, 'No, but I drink Jack Daniels!'"
The comedian has doing stand-up comedy for more than 10 years. His career began in 2000 at an open mic night at the Tempe Improv, where he waited tables. And on July 31, Ricci's career will come full circle as he headlines at the same place he started out.
The decade-plus in comedy hasn't come easy for Ricci. He moved from New York to Arizona to attend ASU in 1995, and shared the field with the late Pat Tillman as a kicker for the football team.
Ricci left school in '98 to take care of his father who was diagnosed with prostate cancer, and shortly after he passed away, Ricci began his journey as a comedian and decided not to return to school.
"You don't get paid more at the comedy club because you have a degree in Elementary Education. They don't give a shit if you can babysit," Ricci says. "They want you to be funny."
And he is funny. Ricci prides himself on his ability to turn tragedies from his life into laughs from the audience.
"I was in this bad car accident a couple years ago," he says. "I got hit by a Hummer that ran a red light, so I got a whole thing about it. I don't know if you know this, but Hummers hurt."
The accident took place in February 2009, resulting in a broken femur. Ricci returned to the stage confined to a wheelchair and incorporated the accident into his act. Once again, he picks on one of his friends, who are affectionately referred to as "stupid."
"A friend called me to ask to help him move. He wanted me to come over to help him move when I was in a wheelchair and my legs are broken, because he thought about it, and they could put stuff on my lap."
Ricci keeps the hospital report from the accident with him in one of his many notebooks. In that report, his doctor states amputation might be required and that it was very unlikely he'd walk again. But after seven surgeries, intense physical therapy, and five months in the wheelchair, Ricci returned to his feet.
Since recovering from the accident, Ricci has made strides in the comedy world. In 2010, he opened for D.L. Hughley on an overseas tour to U.S. military bases in Germany, and in March returned to bases in Europe as host of a variety act with the Seattle Seahawks' cheerleaders.
Now Ricci looks forward to his first headlining gig, after which he hopes to continue being the top billing in more clubs.
You can catch his act when he takes the stage on Sunday, July 31.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Phoenix New Times's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Phoenix's stories with no paywalls.