Hey, if it’s Hoboken, don’t fix it, right? The ongoing gag about the mile-square city’s infrastructural issues has been especially on blast this year as nearly every heavy rain has resulted in some flooding and a few water main breaks, but the joke itself is a bit lacking. Next week, some of the Tri-State Area’s best comedic talent will try to improve on that, performing at venues around town as part of the Third Annual Hoboken Comedy Festival.
The festival, which technically began at a satellite event in Greenwich Village, will kick off in Hoboken this Tuesday and run through Sunday, Oct. 6.
With headliners like local celebrity Artie Lange of The Artie Lange Show and The Howard Stern Show, Keith Alberstadt of Saturday Night Live, Chuck Nice from The Today Show and Best Week Ever and Jessimae Peluso from Girl Code, the festival’s founder (and local comedian) Dan Frigolette says this year’s installment may be the funniest yet.
“We’ve got some really incredible talent coming in,” he said in an interview this week. “A lot of what’s tough about doing an event like this in Hoboken is that everyone leaves to go to the city at night. So the idea is to bring big enough talent that you can’t ignore it.”
Frigolette said that Hoboken’s transient nightlife inspired him to start the festival in 2010. In its first year, the festival was limited to just one night, but since then, it has grown to include many local businesses-turned-venues, special events and contests, as well as a charity event to benefit the Liberty Humane Society.
“We wanted to give Hoboken people the chance to meet Hoboken people in Hoboken,” Frigolette said. “We figured a good way to do that would be to throw an event like this in town and really get people laughing and enjoying themselves.”
Asked on Wednesday about his specific brand of comedy, Nice, whose routines include everything from personal stories to observational comedy, said that it’s his job to simply be funny. If a comic can make an audience laugh, he said, “brand” doesn’t matter much.
“If you can’t make people laugh, but you’re funny, then maybe you need to be a humorist,” he said. “Laughter is the only brand, either you’re funny or you’re not funny.”
He said that this year’s lineup wouldn’t disappoint, and being a former Hoboken resident himself will make his performance that much more fun.
“You know, it’s Hoboken; it’s not Idaho,” he said. “Some of the best talent in the world is here in this area. I was shocked [last year] that people were so surprised at how good the shows here are. After every time I’ve done this, people are like ‘Oh my god!’ And I’m like, well what else did you expect?”
Peluso also has lived in Hoboken before, and agreed to return because she and Frigolette often worked together when they were both getting started years ago in Syracuse.
“It’s a rare occasion to work with someone you actually like,” she said. “Plus Hoboken is a pretty fun, and funny, place.”
Peluso said that her shows are usually marked by her blunt honesty, which she said is often the funniest policy.
“I talk about my life, which is relatable, for girls and guys. I’ve been told I’m a masculine woman. I have masculine opinions, whatever that means,” she said, also noting that her parents have had a major impact on her sense of humor. “I’m slightly sarcastic; I get that from my mom. And I make a lot of fart jokes; that’s from my dad.”
Supporting young comics
A staple of the festival in recent years has been the welcoming of several local up-and-coming comedians from around the area, Frigolette said, who send in audition tapes for the chance to perform alongside the likes of Lange at his headlining show at Pilsener Haus on Sunday night.
“We’re going to have a lot of guests who are in the industry, bookers and whatnot, who will get a chance to take a look at what sort of talent we’ve brought in,” said Frigolette. “We hope it can generate some careers for some of these people.”
As if supporting starving comedians isn’t sufficient community service on its own, some of the proceeds from the events will go to the Liberty Humane Society, who find homes for adoptable dogs throughout Hudson County. Last year, the festival raised around $1,200 for the organization.
For more information on the festival and to purchase tickets to each event, visit www.HobokenFestival.com or www.facebook.com/HobokenFestival.
Dean DeChiaro may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org