Vic DiBitetto is rolling in the dough. Well, the bread and milk, to be more specific. The comedian turned viral video super star is making audiences laugh all over the world with his hilarious Vic’s Vignettes and takes on everyday life—Italian style. We spoke to Vic about his viral video success, the sacrifices he made for his career, and why you don’t really need bread and milk during a snowstorm.
Let’s talk about life before “Bread & Milk.” What were you doing?
I was driving a garbage truck. It was a family-owned business in Manhattan. One night, I drove the truck to Dangerfield’s, on 1st Ave. I went onstage, did my act, got back in the truck, and as I was honking the horn, the audience was waving at me. I’ve always had 2 jobs. Now finally after 33 years, I’m finally doing comedy full-time.
I was driving the garbage truck, and I got a job driving a school bus. I had special ed kids, and when you have special ed kids, you have to have a matron on the bus. And guess who my matron was? My wife. Now, here you have a couple together all day. We would go back and forth because the route was in Staten Island, and we lived in NJ. We would go on the outer bridge twice a day because there was 5 hours between the a.m. and the p.m. run. My manager sat us down and said, “You don’t need to do this anymore.” So we took a chance—we sacrificed two salaries, and it paid off.
What was it like making that leap?
It was scary. We looked at each other one night and said, “Did we really just give up two jobs?”
So when did your viral video come out?
“Bread & Milk” came out right after Hurricane Sandy. My wife didn’t want to cook and she said for me to go out and get something to eat. I open the door, and I see a snowflake. And right away, I thought what everyone else thought in the Northeast when you see a snowflake. “Here we go!” You see all the morons in the supermarket, like it’s an apocalypse. So I got my phone; everything I do is with my iPhone. I don’t have a selfie stick; it’s my arm. It was a spur-of-the-moment thing. I walked from the house to the car and I said, “I gotta get the bread and milk.” I get in the car—“They said snow!” Twenty-six seconds, it was. That video got me more recognition than 33 years of stand-up. And to this day, it’s up to 16 million views. The beauty of it is that it comes back every winter.
It’s like Christmas carols. Most viral videos, they come and go. Every time there’s a snowstorm, even a hurricane—any natural disaster—the views go up. It’s amazing.
It’s what everyone thinks, that you need bread and milk during a storm.
And for what? Is everyone making French toast?! You never use the bread and milk.
But you have it.
Right! The video was on news stations; it was on the Weather Channel. It was on The View; Barbara Walters was cracking up. It went viral on my birthday—how do you like that? The computer was on and you could hear the dings. It was amazing.
After the video went viral, then what happened?
I started getting a following. I’m like the only comedian in his mid-50s using social media to his advantage. I use it to promote myself. Eventually I used to do warm up for a show called Forgive and Forget; Mother Love was the host. I became friends with the producer of the show. We lost touch but reconnected on Facebook. I asked him to help me and he told me that he had seen my videos and that there was something there. And he brought my career to the next level. If everything stays the way it is now, I’m a happy guy. Do I want to do movies? Of course. But who am I to complain? I have a beautiful wife, two great kids, I’m living comfortably in my house.
Now, achieving this success at this age, is it more meaningful to you?
Absolutely. I think there’s a reason why it took so long. I think if I had made it earlier, I would have been partying. See, my wife keeps me grounded. To make it this late in life, you’re humble. You’ve been through it all. So now my kids are older; they’re out of the house. They’re doing their thing, so it’s me and my wife’s time. There’s a woman who sacrificed 33 years of not going out on weekends for her husband to pursue his dream. Come on. That’s a woman. Now we’re just enjoying it.
But is that tricky? Because even though it’s your time, you have all this newfound fame on top of it.
The same people who were telling me, “I can’t wait until you make it,” are now telling me, “You’re a big shot now.” Where were you when I was working two jobs and driving the bus? Where were you when my tenants were screwing me out of money and ruining my credit?
I go all out with my fans. I do meet and greets. I answer as many people as I can on Facebook. But don’t come to my house. Like Michael Corleone, “You come to my house?! Where my wife sleeps?! Where my kids download their apps?” [laughs] Don’t bother me at my house, or when I’m eating.
Do you feel that there’s more pressure to do another viral video? This came to you very organically. Do you think you now have to create another “Bread & Milk”?
Yeah, and I got lucky because I did a rant on Justin Bieber and that went viral, too. I’m more focused on the standup. When you do the video, you can’t think, “I’m making a viral video.” I’ve been doing this for five years. I’ve got hundreds of them; I call them Vic’s Vignettes. Of all the ones I’ve done, “Bread & Milk” was the last one I would ever think—I almost deleted it. I thought it was stupid.
Do you have a certain audience?
That’s a good question. It doesn’t hurt if you’re Italian. Look, it’s obvious that I’m not exactly from Alabama, as you can tell. I do characters on these videos. I do a character named Tony Gaga, an over-the-top Italian guy. I’ve got parents sending me videos of 5-year-olds imitating me. I do a signature look after my videos. I have people sending me pictures of their pets doing the look. It’s insane. I have like a cult following. With my videos, I’m my own writer, producer, director. And I’m having fun.
What else are you working on?
The Three Tenors (Who Can’t Sing). It’s three Italian guys. It has gotten standing ovations. It’s separate from my standup. In this business, you have to come up with whatever you can, throw it against the wall and see what sticks. It’s a brutal, beautiful business.
You mentioned earlier that Lucy missed out on a lot of weekends because you were working. When your kids were younger, what was that like?
It was tough. Every time I hear that song, “Cat’s in the Cradle,” I cry in the car. I had to work, I had to pay the bills. But they’re coming back now, for the pool. My kids are cool. They understand. I think it hit them when they walked the red carpet for the premiere for Mall Cop 2. They were texting their friends, “OMG, Kevin James is in front of me.” They see the perks; the room at the Borgata, the limo rides, but they keep me grounded. I mean, after a show where everyone’s telling me I’m great, I come home and I have to take out the garbage.
Going back to your roots.
There you go! I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m getting paid to have fun and make people laugh.