By: Chris Kazarian, October 19, 2012
Comedy comes in all shapes and sizes, ranging from traditional stand-up to improv to musical parody. Tonight and tomorrow night, local audiences will have a chance to sample one or all as part of the first-ever Cape Cod Comedy Festival at the Sea Crest Beach Hotel.
The event is the brainchild of Gary Marino, owner of the Burlington-based production company Harmon-Marino Entertainment, with the goal of exposing fans of comedy to rising talent who honed their craft in Massachusetts. “I want to showcase some of our homegrown talent who are working nationally and doing some big things,” he said. “And I wanted to create an event for folks in Falmouth and the surrounding areas. Nobody has done a comedy festival on Cape Cod and I thought it was about time to do it.” If all goes well, Mr. Marino hopes to make this an annual event as a way to showcase comedic acts that may not yet be household names.
Unlike typical comedy festivals where stand-up reigns supreme, Mr. Marino said, this one will feature a mixture of everything, epitomized best by festival headliner Jon Stetson, the inspiration for Simon Baker’s character on the CBS show “The Mentalist,” who will perform tomorrow Saturday evening at 7. “He does some pretty mind-blowing stuff,” Mr. Marino said. “He’s part psychic, part comic, part magician and part mind reader.”He will be followed by Mr. Marino’s World Gone Crazy Band, which performs song parodies and spoofs of TV commercials.
The four-man Boston-based band is led by comedian and WBZ News Radio personality Michael Coleman, who expressed excitement about taking part in the Cape’s first-ever comedy festival, aside from the one on Nantucket. “Comedy in my opinion has gotten watered down,” he said. “It becomes stagnant. After a while you get the same type of performers doing the same acts over and over. Some can be rude, some can be lowbrow, but as far as what we do it is not rude. We don’t offend the audience. It is just a fun, fun show that pokes fun at life.”
Mr. Coleman has always done song parodies as part of his own stage act, but it was not until last year that the band was launched at the behest of Mr. Marino, who is a drummer.
As to how he likes playing in a band versus the stand-up, Mr. Coleman said, the “band is less lonely… stand-up comedy can be kind of lonely. During the show other comics are on stage and you’ll just be in a back room by yourself waiting to go on so you’re in a vacuum, all alone. The best part is when you’re on stage for 20, 40 or 60 minutes, but the time before and after is very, very vacuous.”
Open Mic Sets Career Path
Matty Blake, a New York City-based comedian who grew up in Natick, will host the festival.He started doing stand-up in 1995, winning an open mic contest on a dare. “I literally had a minute and a half of jokes and I won off that material,” he said.That contest, he said, led him to serve as a host of a comedy show featuring the late Dave Fitzgerald and veteran comic Steve Sweeney at The Barnstormers Theatre in Tamworth, New Hampshire, in front of 350 people.
Mr. Blake recalled a conversation he had with the theater’s owner, who said, “Just give me 10 minutes up front, 15 in-between and bring up Steve.’ I must have looked like a person had died in the room. Davie Fitzgerald saw my face and said, ‘You don’t have 10 minutes, do you?’ I said, ‘I have about two minutes.’ He was great and just said, ‘Listen, just do your two minutes. Introduce the show and when you come back out, pick out a nice couple and talk to them. If it goes well, just continue talking to them.”
The advice worked, he said, and since then Mr. Blake’s career has blossomed, leading him to a radio career for two Boston-based radio stations including the rock station WAAF where he had his own show, “The Rocko and Matty Show,” from 2001 to 2002.
n 2002, he made the finals of the Comedy Central Laugh Riots in New York City, at which point he ventured into a career as an actor.
Along with voiceover work, he has done more than 30 national commercials and has been in episodes of “30 Rock” and HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire,” where his character arrested Nucky Thompson, the show’s main character played by Steve Buscemi.
Though acting has become his primary focus, Mr. Blake still does stand-up roughly once a month, talking about what it was like growing up Irish Catholic and his life as an unknown working actor.
Like others taking part in this weekend’s festival, he said, the Cape is where he perfected his talents, working a number of corporate and private events in the region. And it is here, in Mashpee, where he got married.
He expressed excitement about returning here to take part in what could be the first of many such festivals for years to come. He agreed to do it, he said, because it is comedy for the sake of comedy. “Here is what I love about this festival and why I said yes to it: I don’t like comedy or art as a competition. Here audiences get to watch all great comedy and there is no winner at the end,” he said. “This comedy festival is no different than walking through an art gallery. Each artwork may be different, but it is still beautiful. Here it’s the same except there will be some laughing and drinking, hopefully.”
Tonight audiences will be part of the show when comic Mike Dorval plays the role of a judge, leading a mock courtroom as he tries to help Cape couples in attendance sort out their problems onstage.
Tickets can be purchased online at www.capecodcomedyfest.com or at the door. A portion of the proceeds will go to the following charities: The Falmouth Dog Park; The Buzzards Bay Coalition; the New England Chapter of the Multiple Sclerosis Society; the Teaticket School Parent Teacher Organization; the Cape Cod Children’s Museum; and Generation Excel.