Since 2020 was an absolute dumpster fire of a year – with the occasional bright spot – and 2021 has already had its moments, chances are most are long overdue for a good laugh. Luckily for East End audiences, and even those across the United States, Sag Harbor’s Bay Street Theater has you covered.
A new, virtual All Star Comedy Show will premiere on Thursday, January 28 at 8:00 p.m. The digital iteration will feature the hilarious Chris Clarke, Brendan Sagalow, and Aiko Tanaka – with New York-based comedian Joseph Vecsey hosting, of course.
We recently caught up with Vecsey about Zoom comedy shows and audiences, the All Star Comedy series, working with Adam Sandler, and more.
During the show’s filming, I believe you mentioned that this was your second Zoom show.
JV: Yeah, I did do one back in April. I was just kind of depressed by it. So, I didn’t do one again. But, the Bay Street one was actually a lot more fun. It was kind of like everyone was in on it together, including the audience. It was nice. They’ll edit it a bit, and then put it out for people to watch.
I think the cool part about it was Chris was in Vegas, Brendan was in New York, Aiko was in Japan, and I don’t know where everyone else [the Zoom audience] was at. But everybody, including yourself, were all just on this thing together. It was a nice thing that we could do – and we probably wouldn’t do it under any other circumstance.
What’s it like performing on Zoom?
JV: It’s just bizarre. It does feel like less pressure – because you’ve just turned on your computer, you’re in your apartment, and it doesn’t feel like there’s much to lose. But then there are people staring at you… Overall, it went pretty well. But when something doesn’t go well, it still feels shitty, but at the same time, it’s like, it’s not that bad. I’m right next to my fridge… There’s something more comforting about it than when you’re on a stage and a joke doesn’t work. It felt nice in this situation; I don’t think every Zoom show will feel that nice. I think everyone really was there wanting to pay attention and laugh. So, I think that’s what made it fun.
Connecting with the audience is obviously a huge part of a show. Is it more difficult to do that on Zoom?
JV: Yeah, definitely. Just because it’s not the same, you don’t feel the energy, and you don’t really feel the people. This particular crowd was very good with saying stuff when it was helpful and then not interrupting. I did feel like it was a fun thing. When the show ended, I was like, I’m gonna kind of miss everybody. Let’s do this again, next week, every same person. It was fun.
I think the comics we had were the perfect group, they were all game for it. They all called me afterwards and said it got them back into doing Zoom shows, and they had fun, they enjoyed it.
With being cooped up inside for the majority of the past year, has your process of coming up with new material changed?
JV: I don’t know if it’s changed, I guess there was just a little bit less to draw from – because less was happening for a while. But, I would say it was still about the same as far as just randomly coming up with ideas or sitting down to write. There was just less to talk about – unless you were going to really dive into 40 minutes of Coronavirus material.
JV: Yes, which I did not want to go near.
Could you speak a bit about the comedians that you selected to be featured in this All Star Comedy Show?
JV: Chris Clarke, he had done the show live probably more than anyone. So, I knew he would be good for Zoom, plus he has a lot of energy. I saw him over the summer briefly in Las Vegas where he lives now. I just always have fun with him. And I knew he’d be a good person to interact with the audience throughout the show, even just with myself, if I needed a safety net. And then Brendan, he’s done the show as well. He’s just really funny, I always like his material and he has an album coming out. I always think of him for anything I’m doing. Also, these are really nice guys that are easy to deal with. So, on top of being really funny, they’re just easy to get along with. And then Aiko, who lives in Japan, I just met her last year from filming a show, a TV show in Las Vegas. She was just so original and different. When I saw her stand-up online, she’s just not what you expect. It seems like she’s kind of shy, and she is, but she has really clever, clever jokes. I just was fascinated by her, and she’s super nice as well. I just thought it’d be pretty cool getting her on the show – because what other situation could I get her on the All Star Comedy Show when she’s living in Japan?
Can we expect any more – or will you be taking part in any more virtual shows?
JV: I don’t know if I’ll do any other virtual shows outside of this. Maybe, depending on what it is or who it is, but if the All Star Show does well for this round, I think we will do another one. And I just hope by summer, we’ll be doing at least outdoor shows.
What’s kept you busy during the pandemic?
JV: Fortunately enough for me, in March, we were already prepping a movie. We kept doing that, even though it kept getting pushed back and pushed back. We kept doing the prep pretty much March through September. So, I was prepping this movie, a basketball movie with Adam Sandler and this NBA player, “Juancho” Hernangómez, who is on the Minnesota Timberwolves. We were supposed to shoot the whole thing in the summer. Obviously it got pushed back. But, I did have that movie to be working on the entire time, prepping it. We shot it in mid-September through October, just the first half of the movie. We couldn’t shoot the basketball scenes because of COVID. We’re shooting that portion next summer. So I was able to stay busy. We shot that in Philadelphia. We had all the COVID protocols, we got tested three times a week, we had to wear the KN95 masks. They really protected us well, we had to quarantine during shooting, it was a big thing. But, we never got shut down, it all worked, and everything was safe. That was for Netflix. I’ve been lucky enough to have that keep me pretty busy. We just wrapped up the first half of the editing and everything. I’m not sure what’s going to happen between now and summer, but now I’m just keeping busy writing and trying to get some of my own projects off the ground.
You’ve worked with Adam Sandler quite a few times now. What’s been your biggest takeaway from working with him?
JV: Just his work ethic and how hard he works on the writing and rewriting and just making sure everything is as great as it can be. He’s also taught me, for when I want to produce something on my own, just learning from him how to put a movie together – from writing, to casting, to the filming, to editing, to even the sound mixing, every part of it. Just being on top of each part of the filmmaking process. I think that’s what I’ve taken away from it. He’s involved in every part of it, so I’ve learned every part of it from that. I can always take that with me for something I want to do later on in my career or something that I write, or something I’m pitching to him.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
JV: Hopefully everyone supports the show during this tough time.
All Star Comedy tickets are $20.
For tickets to the All Star Comedy Show, visit www.baystreet.org.