Joe Vecsey, organizer of Bay Street Theater’s “All Star Comedy Show” this weekend.
By Gianna Volpe
When it comes to this weekend’s HarborFest, one “marina” in town will harbor chuckles and snickers rather than cabin cruisers and sailboats, and that is New York-based comic Marina Franklin, who will headline the first fall installation of Joe Vecsey’s “All Star Comedy Show” this Saturday, September 13, at Bay Street Theater at 8 p.m.
Ms. Franklin, a 15-year veteran of stand-up comedy, has appeared everywhere from Jay Leno to Chappelle’s Show. This weekend, she returns to Sag Harbor for her second “All Star Comedy” performance.
“I’ve also been there before working with Tom Papa, which was my first introduction to the theater,” said Ms. Franklin of her first visit to Bay Street. “Then Joe Vecsey booked me there last summer and they wanted to have me back, so I’m happy to return.”
Mr. Vecsey, another New York-based comic whose podcast “The Call Back” includes interviews with some of the industry’s brightest stars, said the upcoming event, which will take place at 8 p.m. on Saturday, reflects an expansion of the theater’s offerings.
“The person that came up with the idea was [Bay Street Theater's managing director] Gary Hygom,” Mr. Vecsey said about adding a second date to the annual “All Star Comedy Show.”
“He saw the show was getting more successful, so he said, ‘Why don’t we try one during HarborFest when people are in town and Sag Harbor’s more crowded. Then maybe you can get a DJ to incorporate music into it a little bit.’”
Mr. Hygom has long championed comedy at Bay Street Theater, according to Mr. Vecsey.
“Gary Hygom was the one who took me on when he hadn’t even seen me do comedy yet; the guy I’ve worked with from the very beginning,” Mr. Vecsey said of his creation of the show four years ago. “He really took a chance on the whole idea…I didn’t even need to rent the theater upfront, which is what you’d usually have to do for something like this.”
Mr. Vecsey, who will be the show’s least experienced comic performer at four years in the industry, said he is thrilled both with the show’s success and his ability to build a comedic bridge between Sag Harbor and the city.
“I’m really—obviously—happy that they would add a second show because it shows that it’s improving and becoming more successful,” said the 25-year-old stand-up comedian. “I’m also excited to bring comedy out there…With me being in the comedy scene in New York, I’m able to bring a very high caliber of comics…Not everyone can get certain names to come all the way out there.”
Mr. Vecsey, whose parents own a home on Shelter Island, said he initially sought to create the variety show to couple a quality venue with the rising stars of comedy in New York.
“I saw that the theater didn’t have a show for anybody who wasn’t a headliner, so I pitched them the idea,” he said. “This all star show features well-established up-and-coming comics that you may not have heard of or who are not necessarily famous just yet.”
Besides Ms. Franklin and Mr. Vecsey, comics who will perform at the theater’s variety show this Saturday at 8 p.m. include Akaash Singh and Giulio Gallarotti, comics who have both been featured on various MTV programs.
“As a kid I always wanted to try [stand-up comedy], but was too scared,” Mr. Gallarotti said of his long-standing passion for the oral art of stand-up. “Then while working in the city after I graduated from college, I signed up for a show and invited all of my friends so I couldn’t back out.”
That was five years ago. This weekend, the 28-year-old comic will perform at Bay Street Theater for his first time.
“I told Joe Vecsey I wanted to perform out there because when I was in college I used to go out to Amagansett all the time to teach tennis lessons,” he said.
Part of Bay Street Theater’s appeal to comedians lies in the mere fact that it’s a theater, according to Mr. Vecsey.?“The theater is such a cool, prestigious place to perform,” said Mr. Vecsey. “There’s not an overwhelming amount of venues that comedians like to perform at that are really nice and – obviously – Bay Street is one of them. No one who comes to the theater to perform is disappointed.”
Ms. Franklin received her master’s degree in theater from Syracuse University, which she said, makes her partial to theater-based performances, adding her career in stand-up comedy was born from a frustrating lack of theatrical outlets during her post-college move to New York City.
“I’m a person who’s always loved being on stage and I had people telling me I was really funny, so I veered off from theater and started doing stand-up,” she said.
Ms. Franklin, who has performed everywhere from South Africa to Australia, said her background in the fine arts make performances at Bay Street Theater a particular treat.
“Since it’s on a stage, usually the set is still there from the previous show, so that’s always fun because it’s not just you and a curtain,” she said. “And then the audiences that usually come to Bay Street come because they’re eager to see shows, so it’s not like in comedy clubs where people are out drinking and it may be a last-minute decision or they’re from other countries. Bay Street…is a little more localized to the Hamptons and people who are really into theater.”