Local Hoboken Comedy Festival Delivers National Laughs
Written by Teresa Sheffield
While the rest of New Jersey’s coast braces itself for fall flooding, Hoboken braces for a week of laughter as it gears up for its seventh annual Hoboken Comedy Festival. Running September 26-October 2, the festival features eight shows in seven days with big names in comedy performing longform stand-up to benefit the Liberty Humane Society.
Stand-up comedian Dan Frigolette founded the festival almost a decade ago after he moved to Hoboken and felt dissatisfied with the nightlife scene. He wanted to create something that celebrated the town’s entertainment independence and separated itself from solely relying on going into New York City for a good time.
“Part of our goal is to hit the people who are in Hoboken and the surrounding area,” Frigollete said. “Hoboken is 9 minutes from the city and one of the prettiest places you’ll find, it’s a beautiful and easy commute; it’s really worth it for what we’ve got going on.”
The festival boasts an impressive alumni of Amy Schumer, Hannibal Buress, Pete Davidson, Todd Barry, Judah Friedlander, Carlos Mencia, Robert Kelly, and Artie Lang among many others. “We’ve been right on, we’ve had our eye on the right talent from the get-go,” Frigolette said. “We pride ourselves on making sure we have the best and it just so turns out all of these people turned out to be big big big comedic stars.”
This year in no different, with headliners Anthony Devito from AXS Gotham Live, Nick Vatterott from Letterman and Comedy Central, DC Benny from HBO, Showtime, and the Apollo, Gary Vider from America’s Got Talent, Paul Vrizi – Bill Burr’s worldwide opener, Tim Dillon from Fox’s Red Eye and Montreal Comedy festival, and Drew Michael from Comedy Central.
Frigolette said one of his favorite things about the festival is bringing attention and business to the local venues that host the shows. This year the focus is on the local bars Willie McBride’s, The Shannon, and Maxwell’s. Frigolette said the intimacy of the smaller venues offers a rare experience for a comedy show-goer.
“It’s not a theater full of people that are there to see you, that’s a different level of comedy, versus 100 people in a very intimate setting. The best example I have is when I saw John Legend play for 2,000 people it was life-changing. I was 12 rows back, I could basically smell the guy,” Frigolette said. “Great comedians can make a room of two people crack up, there’s an intimacy in that. The beauty of live comedy is on showcase with that. The audience is a living and breathing element and what great comedians can do is create such an aura around themselves and really showcase their personality in a room full of strangers, and a room full of 100 people a whole different animal than 35,000.”
The Hoboken Comedy Festival puts a focus on the future of comedy, with six new talent performers at each of the Monday-Thursday shows competing to win opening slots on the big ticket weekend shows. One talented winner will be chosen this year to perform a longer set on Sunday with all previous winners at the Winner’s Showcase.
Liberty Humane Society is a non-profit animal shelter dedicated to adoption services, low cost veterinary clinics for animal caretakers in Hudson County. Frigolette said it’s very fulfilling to be able to use comedy to give back. “Giving back to the community in which we impact is an integral role of entertainment,” Frigolette said. “Being able to enrich our landscape both through art and through donations we are leaving a footprint that will last lifetimes.”
Frigolette said the satisfaction of creating a thriving comedy festival out of nothing hasn’t been without its challenges.
“It’s one of the greatest accomplishments of my career, to just have decided to start something like this and start from four shows and turn it into 8-10,” Frigolette said. “To go from three days to seven, to go from a couple headliners and supporting acts to almost 85 comedians with 100 submissions every year to try and vy for those 24 spots. It’s one of the greatest struggles and largest rewards of my life.”
Show tickets are $20 on weekdays and $25 on weekends, tickets are available at www.HobokenComedyFestival.org, where you can also find lineups, locations and schedules. Shows are expected to completely sell out by the night of each performance, so Frigolette encourages festival goers purchase tickets ahead of time.