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So You Want To Be A Comedian?

By Gary Wien

originally published: 03/22/2018

So You Want To Be A Comedian?“I feel I have the kind of life where people think I’m making things up all of the time, but weirdness is kind of attracted to me,” said Jess Alaimo, a comedian from Monmouth County.  “So, I just go with whatever happens to me.”

For years, Alaimo had been involved in the entertainment world, working in venues and playing drums, but she always wanted to be a comedian.  Two years ago, she finally took that leap.

Alaimo heard about a comedy open mic at Porta in Asbury Park and promised herself that she was going to do it.  She didn’t plan on going alone, but her friend bailed on her.  Nevertheless, she decided to do it anyway and headed there after leaving work.  The restaurant was packed and when she looked around she didn’t see anyone she knew.  But she went through with it anyway and hasn’t looked back since.  In fact, she now hosts “So You Want To Be A Comedian?” a comedy open mic at Anchor’s Bend (1300 Ocean Avenue in Asbury Park).

Looking back it’s easy to see how Sarah Silverman inspired her to be a comic.  Alaimo recalls seeing Silverman’s “Jesus Is Magic” comedy special as a teenager.  Both comedians are fearless, independent, and don’t care about using filters on stage.

“I had never seen anything like that - let alone a woman doing that,” recalled Alaimo.  “It just completely blew me away how unbelievably offensive she was, but with a clear message behind it.  She was doing a character to make fun of people.  I think ever since then I was obsessed with the idea of being a comedian.  But I never thought I could do it and then one day I did, and it changed my life.”



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She’s not afraid of revealing personal information on stage - even in front of her mother who is a big fan.  According to Alaimo, she’s been embarrassing her mother ever since she was three years old when she had a habit of going up to people and insulting them with her mother grimacing next to her.

“I’ve been embarrassing her since I was a toddler,” said Alaimo. “She’s just so used to it she’s run out of emotion and doesn’t care anymore.”

So You Want To Be A Comedian?Alaimo says nearly 100 percent of her act comes from real life experiences.  Currently working at a mental health facility, she has an abundance of material to work with around her.

“I’m just hoping that it’s actually my job and they’re not just keeping me there every day!” she said.

Ironically, one aspect of her life that she keeps out of her act is politics.  As a teenager, she took part in protests and has always fought for causes like marriage equality, but truly became political following the last presidential election.

“After Trump got elected, I went to the Women’s March in Asbury Park and it really lit a fire inside of me,” she said.  “I realized that every day people can get involved and that’s what we have to do right now. Then I did the Stand Against Hate rally on Labor Day and that was like a crash course in local politics for me.  Since then, I don’t even know what’s happened.  It just kind of snowballed.  I honestly don’t know how it happened, it just did.”

Alaimo not only attended the Stand Against Hate rally but helped organize it.  She would go on to be one of the founders of the Asbury Park Women’s Convention alongside a list of activists and politicians that include Amy Quinn, Yvonne Clayton, Kerry Margaret Butch, and Linda Phillips.  When asked if she would ever consider running for political office herself, she does not hesitate to say it could be possible.

“I think that if I could get away with running without someone looking at one of my past Facebook posts and saying, ‘Hey, look what she wrote’ and I could make Asbury Park or Monmouth County better I would definitely do it,” said Alaimo.  “Because I care. And I think we need more politicians who care.”

Alaimo has performed in New Brunswick, Jersey City, and Newark in addition to Asbury Park.  She hasn’t performed in New York City yet, but plans to. Female comics have long complained about the double standards of comedy clubs - how venues have no problem running all male lineups, but rarely will include more than one female on a bill.  Early into her comedy career, it’s a situation Alaimo has already encountered.

“I think it’s weird since there are so many women comics who are hilarious out there,” she said.  “When men are booking the shows, they don’t even consider booking women.  They just forget that women exist.  And with over 50 percent of the population being women, the people who go to comedy clubs aren’t just men.  So, you’ve got to mix it up a bit.  I think it’s becoming better, but there are shows where you only see men booked and that is unacceptable.”

So You Want To Be A Comedian?Even though Asbury Park has renewed its place as one of the leading entertainment destinations in the state, it still does not have its own comedy club.  Sandwiched between Uncle Vinnie’s Comedy Club in Point Pleasant and The Stress Factory in New Brunswick, Asbury Park has had comedy nights hosted at venues throughout town, but could use its own club.

“I think that would be cool,” said Alaimo when asked if Asbury Park should have its own comedy club.  “It’s something I’ve thought of and I’ve talked with other comics about.  Obviously, money is the issue.”

Without a true comedy club, comedians are left to performing in restaurants and bars. One of the main drawbacks to this is it gives the room a completely different vibe.  Restaurants and bars are likely filled with customers who aren’t there to see comedy - they are there to eat and drink.  Alaimo says the open mic has developed enough of a regular crowd that more people are coming for the comedy now, but it’s still not like a true comedy club where people are coming for comedy first and foremost.

“Sometimes, I’ll just walk straight up to the audience members who are being rude,” explains Alaimo. “I just start doing the show literally right next to them to get their attention.  The best way to find out how to make them laugh is to get them to be part of the show.  Then they usually pay attention.”

Most of the comics at the open mic are from the Asbury Park / Long Branch area, but comics from Middlesex County come down to perform as well.  If you’ve ever wondered if you have what it takes to make people laugh, give it a try at Anchor’s Bend.  It might change your life, just like it did for hers.







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truTV’s Impractical Jokers Are Headed To The Prudential Center
(NEWARK, NJ) -- Critically acclaimed, world renowned comedy troupe, and stars of TruTV’s hit series Impractical Jokers, The Tenderloins have announced a brand-new world tour titled “The Cranjis McBasketball World Tour – Starring The Tenderloins.”  On the heels of the group’s hugely successful “Santiago Sent Us” tour, “The Cranjis McBasketball World Tour” will feature completely new material and hi-jinx for audiences across the globe. This comedy filled event will make a stop at Prudential Center on Wednesday, March 20, 2019 at 7:00pm.
Mayo Presents Wayne Brady On August 25
(MORRISTOWN, NJ) -- Multitalented comedian, actor and singer Wayne Brady returns to MPAC for an evening of comedy on Saturday, August 25 at 8:00pm. Five-time Emmy winner and Grammy nominee Wayne Brady is a true show-biz renaissance man. Tickets range from $49-$79. 
The Big Apple Comedy Club Returns To The Newton Theatre On September 21
(NEWTON, NJ) -- The Big Apple Club returns to The Newton Theatre with four of New York City's hottest comedians for a show on Friday, September 21 at 8:00pm.  The lineup includes Phil Hanley, Rodney Laney, Kerri Louise, and Matt Ruby. Tickets start at $19.
NJPAC Presents Tom Papa
(NEWARK, NJ) -- New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) presents a hysterical stand-up with New Jersey’s own Tom Papa, currently the head writer and a regular performer on Live from Here, on February 23rd, 2019. 
Wellmont Theater Presents Tom Arnold
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“Hysterical!” Gallagher LIVE! at The Strand Lakewood
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So You Want To Be A Comedian?
“I feel I have the kind of life where people think I’m making things up all of the time, but weirdness is kind of attracted to me,” said Jess Alaimo, a comedian from Monmouth County.  “So, I just go with whatever happens to me.”
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Event calendar
Saturday, Aug 18, 2018


MUSIC

90s By Nature Dance Party @ House of Independents, Asbury Park - 10:00pm

BALLYHOO! @ The Saint, Asbury Park - 7:30pm

Ted Leo and the Pharmacists @ Asbury Lanes, Asbury Park - 9:00pm

THE GASLIGHT ANTHEM @ The Stone Pony, Asbury Park - 5:00pm

ZEBRA @ The Wonder Bar, Asbury Park - 9:00pm

Blake Shelton @ Hard Rock Live Etess Arena at Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Atlantic City, Atlantic City - 8:00pm

Legendary Beatles Recording Engineer Geoff Emerick @ The Vault at Victor Records , Berlin - 8:00pm


HAIR in Concert @ Axelrod Performing Arts Center, Deal Park - 10:00pm

AMERICAN IDOL: LIVE! 2018 @ Bergen Performing Arts Center (bergenPAC), Englewood - 7:30pm

Billy Walton Band with Joe D'Angelo @ Hopewell Theater, Hopewell - 8:00pm

REMEMBERING THE KING @ The Strand Theater, Lakewood - 7:00pm

Funky Feat @ The Levoy Theatre, Millville - 8:00pm

Fuel (20th Anniversary Tour) w/ Ropetree, New Theory @ Starland Ballroom, Sayreville - 6:00pm

Ronnie Penque’s Panama Dead @ Lizzie Rose Music Room, Tuckerton - 7:30pm







THEATRE

Saturday Night Fever @ Surflight Theatre, Beach Haven - 8:00pm

The Lion In Winter @ Cape May Stage, Cape May - 8:00pm

Fern Hill @ New Jersey Repertory Company, Long Branch - 3:00pm and 8:00pm

Bob Goss and his Silver Sizzles @ Broadway Theatre of Pitman, Pitman - 8:00pm

Shakespeare in the Park' Twelfth Night & Macbeth @ Various Bergen County Parks, Teaneck - 7:00pm



COMEDY

HASAN MINHAJ: BEFORE THE STORM @ Mayo Performing Arts Center (MPAC), Morristown - 7:00pm and 9:30pm

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