Altamont Enterprise (September 17, 2009) - Going Out for an AFD "fun"- raiser - Night of Comedy
ALTAMONT, New York — Moliere, the French playwright and actor, said that the duty of comedy was to correct men by amusing them. Greg Aidala simply describes it as a passion.
The Loudonville native will be performing at the Altamont firehouse on Saturday, Oct. 24, along with Moody McCarthy, a coworker of Aidala in New York City's serious business of making people laugh.
McCarthy, who has been on Jimmy Kimmel Live! and Last Comic Standing, is one of numerous New York City-based comedians who regularly travel to Albany for events that Aidala organizes, such as The Brew Ha-Ha, a once-a-month professional comedy showcase held at Tess' Lark Tavern in Albany.
Aidala, who divides his time between Albany and New York City, explains that it is his professional approach to the comedy business that both attracts comedians to his shows, and makes them a success.
"Once word got out that I was trustworthy and said what I was going to do, people started to send me materials," he said. "They would say, ‘Oh my god, I heard about your show in Albany.' That makes me feel good because that's all I wanted; to put on a good show so people can trust that. People can say they spent their time and money well."
Through his company, Radial Gage Entertainment, Aidala also teaches classes on stand-up comedy, an enterprise that has so far graduated over 70 students since 2008. After two weeks in the classroom, the final lesson is a five-minute performance at Tess' Lark Tavern in Albany.
Mike Camoin, an Albany-based independent filmmaker, was a student of Aidala last fall, and he was in the audience at last Sunday's amateur night to see the new blood. Staying committed to the material no matter what the audience's response is what Camoin describes as the most important thing he learned from Aidala.
"You can't do stand-up for the laughs," he said. "You have to do it for the material. It's a lot like golf. Every shot is on your shoulders."
If comedy is, indeed, like golf, Sunday night's amateur revue showed balls hit in the rough, the pond, and the sand, as well as sometimes in the hole. In the back boudoir-style room of Tess', Aidala introduced every one of the performers, all looking for laughs in five minutes and with as many different approaches.
There was the lesbian-themed humor from one woman who seemed determined to prove that off-color jokes, called "blue humor" in the business, are no longer the domain of heterosexual males.
An African-American would-be comic named Vernon Payne based his routine on the challenges of the black actor struggling to prepare for parts as the typical villain. Payne, a Brooklyn native living in Albany, said that he's using the venue provided by Aidala to "learn how to deliver faster." He said, "Every word is different and things might work for one audience but not another."
Aidala says he began hosting the amateur night because no one else in Albany cared enough to do it, and because he wanted a venue for the students coming out of his stand-up classes, although the mic is open to anyone with the guts to stand up.
If they request it, Aidala says, he's happy to give the amateurs notes on their performance but he said the vulgar humor, which was fairly common Sunday night, simply shows a lack of experience.
"The reason ‘blue' humor is so rampant among amateurs is because they lack content," he said. "I stress it in my workshops that that material doesn't fly on professional shows. The people who were ‘blue' last night haven't been trained through mine or anyone else's workshop. You can only tell people so many times before the point becomes moot."
Aidala said he picked McCarthy to perform with him in Altamont because, like Aidala, he keeps his humor clean. "I don't work blue," said Aidala. "It's more cerebral with funny observations, like about family. It's dry, sarcastic, in-your-face humor but it's not mean. I hope it's funny."
The main source of inspiration for Aidala's material is his family. "My mother died in 1981 and my father never remarried. He had the business and raised us with teamwork and humor," said Aidala. "It was my father who introduced me to Bob Newhart, The Buttoned Down Mind. I still have that album."
Despite regular gigs both in New York and around the country, Aidala's enthusiasm for the opportunity to make people laugh in Altamont is apparent.
"It's a great community but there's not really a nightlife," he said. "We want to give people a night out with a real professional show right there in their hometown."