Make Me Laugh Albany holds auditions for local comedians
By Julia Day
Arts and Entertainment Editor
Nov 11, 2014
Laughter is the best medicine. For aspiring comedians, nothing is more pleasing than making an audience roar with laughter. But the path to stardom is not easy.
On Tuesday, Nov. 4 at 9 p.m., the University at Albany community was given the opportunity to participate in Make Me Laugh Albany auditions, a competition looking for local comedic talent. All of the seats in Lecture Center 5 were packed as both audience members and stand-up participants enjoyed the talent the university has to offer.
The first night of auditions were held at UAlbany, followed by auditions at The College of St. Rose on Nov. 5, open auditions for the Albany community on Nov. 6, and semi-finals auditions on Nov. 8 in Troy. After a week of over 100 comedians auditioning, Make Me Laugh judges chose 25 participants to compete in the finals.
Professional comedian and founder of Make Me Laugh, Dan Frigolette, expressed his excitement of the talent UAlbany had to offer.
“I’m blown away by what we saw here tonight,” said Frigolette. “I wasn’t even sure we were going to have four or five people to even perform, so to have 12 was great, all of them should be on stage. All of them did amazing things. So we’re really happy with that…we also have 50 people that submitted from across the country that are trying to come to Albany this weekend and next weekend to try and win this thing. The competition is high.”
Having been born in Schenectady and attending Syracuse University, Frigolette is a New York native and familiar with the hardships of beginning a comic career.
“I decided it’s what I wanted to do, and I didn’t know how the hell to do it,” said Frigolette. “There was one stand-up comedy competition the entire time that I was in college…I started Make Me Laugh because I wanted to go to a town like Albany where I know there’s not a lot of comedy opportunities and give those opportunities to people.”
Frigolette also runs the Hoboken Film Festival, which celebrated its fifth year in 2014. The festival has hosted big name comedians including Carlos Mencia and Greer Barnes, but Frigolette hopes to expand the festival to new talent in the Capital Region.
Many students performed at the Make Me Laugh auditions at UAlbany, including Cole Miles, Alex Benson, Nick Marricco, Jake Berg, Jacob Steiner, Chris Barnes, Christian Burgos, Ellen Liebenthal, James King, Tom Gross, and Dwayne Murphy Jr. The event was hosted by Frigolette, who introduced each participant and performed some of his own material.
Frigolette also brought with him comedians including Gene Getman, Frank Gentile, and Ethan Ullman to perform in between auditions and to help judge. Ethan Ullman is a former UAlbany grad, who has been featured on “The Howard Stern Show.”
Each participant was given five minutes to showcase their own stand-up material, and each succeeded in creating laughter in the packed lecture center. Five finalists were chosen, including Alex Benson, Chris Barnes, Nick Marricco, James King, and Dwayne Murphy Jr. Three of the finalists participate in UAlbany’s comedy group The Sketchy Characters, one is a student in the UAlbany community, and Murphy Jr. is a local Albany comedian.
James King, president of The Sketchy Characters, became involved in Make Me Laugh when contacted by Frigolette.
“We received an e-mail from Dan Frigolette saying we’re doing this competition, can we host an audition on our campus,” said King. “And how could you say no to that, it just made sense to do it…The whole thing in general showed me that there is a community on this campus that really does enjoy comedy.”
King does open-mic every Monday at Lark Tavern, as well as performing at weekly shows in the Campus Center put on by The Sketchy Characters. Although he pursues comedy as a hobby, King remains optimistic about the Make Me Laugh Finals.
“I just love comedy…I’ll pursue it for fun, we’ll see how it goes, maybe I’ll win Make Me Laugh Albany and get added to the Hoboken Comedy Festival and all those other things, and I go on from there but who knows,” said King. “I’m just excited to be one of the 25 finalists.”
The Make Me Laugh Albany Finals will be held on Saturday, Nov. 15 at 6 p.m. at The Linda WAMC Theatre on Central Avenue. Along with the 25 finalists, the show will also feature closing acts by comedians Simeon Goodson, Matt Richards, Pete Bladel, and Dan Frigolette. Judges include DJ Joey G, Ali Hibbs, Steve Barnes, and Jeff the Drunk (known from “The Howard Stern Show”) who will be judging using the criteria of 25% originality, 25% stage presence, and 50% audience reaction.
The winner of Make Me Laugh Albany will be given the opportunity to perform on the Comedy’s Best Kept Secret Tour at the Proctors Theater, as well as the ability to perform throughout the Northeast and New York City. Awards also include newspaper exposure and an interview on Ethan Ullman’s radio show Alternative to Sleeping Radio.
Frigolette encourages all aspiring comedians to pursue what they love doing.
“Just keep trying, keep getting on stage, it takes hours and hours and hours,” said Frigolette. “They say it takes 10,000 hours before you master a craft, so you have to put those 10,000 hours in if you love it. No one’s going to support this, so you have to want it bad enough on your own to really work at it and really make it happen.”
Thanks to Frigolette, Make Me Laugh Albany has brought out some of the best talent in the Capital Region and is sure to help further aspiring comedians careers.