Tag Archives: comedy

Seinfeld comes home, performs at alma mater Queens College

| brennison@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of John Shearer

When Jerry Seinfeld emerged from behind the curtain at the Colden Auditorium, he was not only returning to his alma mater, but to the stage that helped launch his comedy career.

“This is where I started the whole damn thing,” Seinfeld said as he greeted the crowd at Queens College’s sold-out Colden Auditorium, his fourth of five shows in each of the city’s boroughs.

Seinfeld first landed on the Queens College stage in the 1970s as part of a student play.

“I was a reporter in the play and it wasn’t really supposed to be funny,” the Massapequa-born comedian remembered. “I came out and made the whole thing really funny and it wasn’t a comedy play.”

The director pulled him aside to remind him it wasn’t a comedy, Seinfeld said, “And I said, ‘Screw this acting thing, I’m going to [Manhattan comedy club] Catch a Rising Star.”

Between Catch a Rising Star and the Thursday, October 18 show, Seinfeld turned himself into a world-renowned comedian and co-creator of one of the most beloved sitcoms of all-time, “Seinfeld.”

Seinfeld, who helped write the show famously about nothing, still displayed the ability to riff on the frivolities of life, including a five-minute bit on breakfast and the magic of Pop-Tarts.

“Once there were Pop-Tarts, I did not understand why other types of food continued to exist,” Seinfeld joked. “My mother was shopping and preparing meals, I was like, ‘What are you doing, it’s over? You’ll never beat this.’”

Other topics touched on by the funnyman were marriage (“When you’re single you can oversleep a half hour and no one even notices”); energy drinks (“What does it even feel like to be in deficit of five hours of energy?”); and food (“Why is it that you can smell french fries through a three foot concrete wall?”).

But Seinfeld also focused on Queens in the homecoming show. It was his first time back to the school since he received an honorary doctorate in 1994.

“I am so happy to be back in Queens. I love Queens,” he said.

Students and residents can easily identify with the grief Seinfeld remembered from his two years at Queens College: Parking problems and the misnamed Utopia Parkway.

“At what point was that a utopia?” said Seinfeld, who carried a double major while at the school, communication and arts and sciences.

“I took two majors because both of those are about half a major together.”

Following the 75-minute show, Seinfeld returned to the stage to take questions from the audience.

When asked for a favorite episode, Seinfeld said he gets foggy on which stories go with which episode, but rattled off a few treasured scenes: the golf ball in the blowhole of the whale, George accidentally poisoning his fiancée with toxic envelopes and Jerry stealing the rye bread from the old lady.

Currently, Seinfeld is filming an Internet show “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee,” which is exactly what the name implies. Seinfeld will pick up a comedian in an exotic car and they’ll chat and quip while driving and sitting down for a coffee or meal.

Among those featured on the show was his “Seinfeld” co-creator Larry David, who rode in a 1952 VW Bug.

But those awaiting a reunion show will not be hearing “Seinfeld, party of four,” any time soon.

“When you sit in those director chairs, it’s just depressing,” Seinfeld said. “Yeah, it’s great, it’s great … it’s over.”

Queens comedian competes for comedy crown

| aaltman@queenscourier.com

Andrew Hendrickson

Comedian Andrew Hendrickson stepped into the spotlight on the makeshift stage at The Bread Box, a Long Island City eatery just off hip, bustling Vernon Boulevard. The restaurant was packed with locals and comedy junkies looking for a laugh and a chance to see the next “great one” before hitting the big time.

As a performer in the Laughing Devil Comedy Festival, Hendrickson was one of more than 100 comedians, hailing from the United States and Canada, competing for a cash prize and paid gigs at various comedy clubs throughout the city. The festival boasts several special guests at each show and a number of celebrity headliners.

Hendrickson performed in the Laughing Devil Comedy Festival’s sister event in Atlanta several years ago, failing to make it to the final round. He was determined to try again in New York – the city where stars are born and fame is just one great joke away.

Hendrickson was born in California, moving to various parts of the country during his childhood as a self-proclaimed “navy brat.” Regardless of his changing hometowns, comedy was always a major part of his upbringing.

“I’ve always loved stand-up since I was a little kid,” said Hendrickson. “I was living in Atlanta and I saw a news report about a guy who taught a stand-up class. When you ‘graduate,’ you perform for a live audience at the local club. So I signed up.”

Hendrickson developed his own material, compiling a five-minute routine that he performed at open mic nights. He then took his act on the road, working as an emcee and a middle act for bigger names. One year, he put nearly 40,000 miles on his car, driving from show to show.

“I know every gas station and rest stop in the eastern half of the country,” joked Hendrickson.

Now a 14-year comedy veteran, Hendrickson has developed his own style, employing conversational, dry and sarcastic undertones and methods into his routine. He believes there is no way to train to be a stand-up comedian, but a combination of relentless performing and writing can help a novice jokester find his voice.

Hendrickson claimed it took him 12 years to figure out how to be himself on stage.

“When people don’t laugh at my jokes it’s only because I’m being so subtle they miss it,” said Hendrickson. “After performing and writing for so many years, your mind starts to ‘think comedy’ constantly. It’s hard to turn off. You develop an awareness and look out for a funny perspective on just about everything. Most comics don’t know what’s funny until they bring it to the stage. Fortunately, for me everything I do is perfect and funny the first time I try it.”

As for his comedic inspirations, Hendrickson says they are not just the legends appearing on Comedy Central and filling thousand-seat venues, but his family.

“Everyone in my family is really funny,” said Hendrickson. “My mom is silly, my brothers are total smart [alecs] and my dad has a dark sense of humor. The family dog is the funniest of them all. He talks to me but no one else hears it. I get my best ideas from the dog.”

During his performance at the Laughing Devil Comedy Festival, Hendrickson ripped on Starbucks patrons’ ridiculous orders and his mother’s ability to leave him an entire story on his voice mail.

“I felt great on stage Saturday,” said Hendrickson. “The crowd was great. Who knew performing in a bread store would be so much fun. I felt really good about my set. I think I picked the right jokes for that round.”

Hendrickson took second place in the final round at the Laughing Devil Comedy Festival.

Up next in his budding career, Hendrickson plans to push around a sitcom script and gain more exposure on television.

He also has big plans for his love life.

“I want to marry a rich Hollywood starlet and live off her fame,” said Hendrickson. “I’m coming for you, Betty White.”

Devilish Grin – Long Island City resident brings comedy to the community

| smosco@queenscourier.com

Steve Hofstetter – LIC resident opening The Laughing Devil, a neighborhood comedy club set to open in December at 47-38 Vernon Boulevard.

When the crowds of artists came to LIC all those years ago in search of lofts and solitude, they inadvertently opened the door to curious developers with a hankering for waterfront property. As the condos shot up, young families moved in and they were soon followed by food purveyors because everyone needs to eat.

Now after decades of growth, the people crave more – the people crave entertainment.

Enter Steve Hofstetter and Jacob Morvay – two LIC residents opening The Laughing Devil, a neighborhood comedy club set to open in December at 47-38 Vernon Boulevard.

Hofstetter, a Queens native and professional comedian, has comedy clubs in Indianapolis and Atlanta, but felt the time was right to bring humor home to LIC.

“You risk failure with any project you’re involved in and failing in front of friends and family might be the worst, but I think it’s only going to come with benefits,” said Hofstetter, 32. “This is my home and I’ve got people rooting for me – that gives us the early boost we need to get off the ground.”

Hofstetter’s career in comedy first got off the ground when he was 13 years old and, like most men, he was motivated by the lure of a woman. He followed a girl he had a crush on into an improv class, which she quit two weeks later – but by then, he was already hooked.

“Men chasing women has inspired some of the greatest decisions in our society,” he said, adding that he and his wife decided on LIC because they wanted to move somewhere with more space. “This time I actually love her.”

Standup comedy, his second love, is something that Hofstetter started performing because it shined the spotlight squarely in his talent – and he didn’t have to rely on other performers as with improv comedy.

“Standup is a solitary art. In improv, either someone better than you steals the scene or you’re the best and you have to carry people with you,” he said. “The days that I perform are better than the days that I don’t.”

And now that he’s anchored in LIC, Hofstetter wants to bring his neighbors a fun night out and he also wants them to know that he has their best interest in mind. He’s aware that some might have reservations about a comedy club in the neighborhood – will it be loud, will there be drunks?

At a recent Community Board meeting, Hofstetter told supporters and detractors that he and his partner won’t ruin the community because they are the community.
“I told them that no one in this room lives closer to this club than I do. I am concerned about the neighbors because I am a neighbor. It’s strange to be a comedian and a curmuggeon at 32, but I’m really not the type to party all night,” he said. “As for noise level, show me a comedian that gets such a reaction that he can be heard on the streets, and I’ll hire that guy.”

Currently, there is a petition running on the www.laughingdevil.com asking those from the area to show community support. Anyone who signs the petition gets one free ticket.

The community has been far more supportive than he was told they would be, giving Hofstetter more time to focus on luring talent. He’s made plenty of connections at his other clubs – working with such comedians as Dave Attell and Margaret Cho – and he’ll use those business connections to book performers at The Laughing Devil.
But the comedy club will invite more than well-known talent onto its stage. Hofstetter said that there will be open-mic nights, and that local flavor will be a driving force behind the personality of the club.

And according to Hofstetter, Queens has plenty of flavor.

“I wasted a good amount of my life looking down on Queens,” said Hofstetter when asked about the borough’s reputation and its relationship with Manhattan. “You’re always told by others that it’s not good enough, but now that I’m older and hopefully more mature, I can recognize that there are some wonderful things here. As the people of Queens, it’s our responsibility to make the borough better in people’s minds.”

Speaking locally Hofstetter said that in a lot of ways, LIC is leading Queens and signaling the rest of the city that this is the borough of change and opportunity. A lot has changed since Hofstetter was a kid in Queens – back then, his father warned him about venturing into LIC.

“I’m all for the redevelopment because it’s being done responsibly. People aren’t being kicked out of their homes – developers are buying abandoned or for sale properties and building newer ones,” he said. “What could be wrong with that?”

Hofstetter’s goal is to open the club on December 15 with a liquor license and the full support of the community. Neighborhoods need happy residents and as Hofstetter hopes to prove, laughing together makes living together much easier.

“The reason I love standup as an art form is because it’s so uniquely communal. Laughter is a communal response and anyone who says they can see it on TV doesn’t understand,” he said. “It’s not just a show, it’s an experience and that’s why I love performing and I’m thrilled to do it in my own backyard.”