After a year off due to the pandemic, the Long Island Comedy Festival returns with a series of weekend performances that last all summer and, for the first time, in the fall, in theaters in both counties.
“One of our goals this year is to help these amazing Long Island venues reopen and bring people back to live shows,” said promoter Paul Anthony, 57, a comedian from Massapequa who founded the festival in 2006.
“There’s nothing quite like being in a theater where you see a professional production on a big stage, you see the best comic book talent and you’re surrounded by 300 or 400 other people,” said he enthuses. “We also wanted to do away with the whole concept of the two-drink minimum and bar and food service,” he adds, explaining why the festival over the years has mostly avoided comedy clubs.
The 15th annual festival – “It takes time to explain ‘the skipped year,’ so we say ‘annual’” – opens Friday and Saturday at Theater Three in Port Jefferson, with a show at 8pm every night featuring starring Anthony and Rich Walker of Deer Park, Carie Karavas, born in Bethpage, Joe Starr of Brentwood and Stevie GB (born Steven Gianturco), of Holbrook.
Venues for the following weekends include The Argyle Theater in Babylon, the Gold Coast Arts Center in Great Neck, The Madison Theater at Molloy College in Rockville Center, and the Studio Theater at BayWay Arts Center on Long Island in East Islip. Other upcoming comics include local favorites such as Richie Byrne, Mark Demayo, Joe DeVito, Rob Falcone, Eric Haft, Leighann Lord, Vinnie Mark, Christine O’Leary, Steve Rocco Parrillo, Chris Roach, Peaches Rodriguez, Marla Schultz, Michael Somerville and Maria Walsh.
The festival also attracts younger comedians who are then “able to say, ‘Wow, I have to work with these national headliners,’ because a lot of networking takes place behind the stage, in the green room. tight-knit community, notes Antoine. “And months later, I’ll get an email saying,” Hey, I’m going to open for this comedian “or” This comedian helped me get into Atlantic City. “It’s therefore a whole different aspect of the comedy festival, in terms of the visibility of these young actors. “
The “comics in their twenties and thirties, which, in the comedian years, are Younghe says, include Talia Reese, Dennis Rooney, Scott Schendlinger and Aiko Tanaka.