Day Job/Night Job: Mike's Auto Body Estimator Chases Fame as Stand-up Comic

Ron Bello
Ron Bello won the first comedy competition he entered, which helped him become more confident and provided the momentum he needed to take it to the next level.

Ron Bello, an up-and-coming stand-up comedian, has been working as an estimator at Mike’s Auto Body in Fairfield, CA, since November 2018.

Bello, who has 20 years of experience working in retail, took Mike’s Auto Body’s one-week estimator's training program at its Fairfield facility last year. He knows he has a lot to learn about estimating and the collision repair industry as a whole and is highly motivated and intrigued by the job.

"Everyone here at Mike's has been so great," Bello said. "My manager in Fairfield (Corey Flies) has been very supportive, and the company is giving me all of the tools I need to succeed in this position. Mike's is investing in me and everyone here is willing to answer all of my questions, so I know I'm not alone, and that gives me a lot of confidence."

Confidence is key for Bello as he attempts to break into the stand-up comedy industry---one of the toughest things anyone can do. He hit the stage for the very first time back in August 2018, and after doing 20 gigs in the six months since then, he is hitting his stride.

Bello's influences include George Carlin, Richard Pryor and Robin Williams. He appreciates the challenge presented by doing comedy, he said.

"Doing stand-up is very satisfying, but it's also difficult. I now have 20 minutes of material, and my goal is to eventually do a one-man show, which means I'll need to have 60 minutes or more of jokes and stories to tell," he said.

Bello's first gig took place at Compadre's in Napa, and although he was a little nervous, he got some big laughs and surprised a lot of people, including himself.

"I told my first joke and the audience started laughing, so I was definitely encouraged and gained momentum. When I was done doing my five minutes, the emcee said that I must have done stand-up before, but it was truly my first time on stage,” he said.

In November, Bello signed up for a comedy competition at Sally Tomatoes in Rohnert Park and walked away as the first-place winner.

"They had three judges who were big-time, including Ron Vingh, who does all the booking at the Punchline in San Francisco," Bello said. "After my set, the judges critiqued my jokes and gave me some helpful feedback about my stage presence and the quality of my jokes. They said they liked my energy on stage and that my punch lines were strong, so that was definitely a great evening I will never forget."

In February, Bello and two other comedians kicked off their "Woke and Broke" tour at the Lucky Penny Theater in Napa with a sold-out show. As he writes more and more jokes and refines his style, he's pleased and anticipating a bright future.

"That was a big night because we taped the show so we could use the footage for promotional purposes," he said. "In this industry, you have to always be promoting yourself, which is why I do things like podcasts and radio shows to sell my brand. I have been a guest on a podcast called ‘The Grind’ that's hosted by Hank Hardister, a fellow comic, and on Fridays I often appear on a radio show on KVON (1440 AM) hosted by Barry Martin, which is a lot of fun."

Bello is in a good space right now---happy with his job and delighted with the prospect of excelling as a stand-up comic.

"I've always wanted to be a comedian, so this is huge, and Mike's Auto Body is an incredible employer and the best job I've ever had," he said.

Ed Attanasio

Ed Attanasio is an automotive journalist and Autobody News columnist based in San Francisco.

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