Colonie Spotlight July 9, 2014) - Local funnyman joins elite club – By: Billy DeLap
COLONIE — After being in the business just over 12 years, a born and raised Loudonville man was inducted into an elite club of comedians, actors and others in the entertainment business.
Joining the ranks of comedians from Billy Crystal to Jerry Seinfeld, on June 18, comedian and business owner Greg Aidala, 40, was inducted into the Friars Club in New York City.
As the owner of Radial Gage Entertainment, Aidala has entrepreneurship in his blood. In 1943, his grandfather opened Quail Auto in Albany, and his family still owns and operates the business. He also hosts and produces the Brew Ha-Ha Comedy Showcase, a touring showcase that has entertained over 10,000 people.
Despite all his accomplishments, Aidala says his induction into the Friars Club is one of the biggest highlights of his career.
"It was pretty sweet. What was cool is I got to bring my dad. There were 12 inductees and a ceremony,” said Aidala. "I am so honored to be part of that. It was something I've always wanted to be a part of, and to have that happen is a definite highlight of my career. It really is the Mecca of the entertainment industry."
Not just anyone can get into the club. To be considered, a member has to be sponsored by two current members. There is also a walkthrough and an interview.
Aidala got into the business 12-and-a-half years ago when he saw an advertisement looking for comics to perform with Colin Quinn from Saturday Night Live.
"There was a show happening over in Troy, and I pestered the guy for three-and-a-half weeks and they finally let me on. I'd never done standup, only in college I did improv and acting. I played music my whole life and hosted a few events in high school," said Aidala.
The host of the show was a radio personality that encouraged Aidala to pursue a career in comedy. After that, he got involved in a competition that he ended up winning. From there, he went on to book performances in Albany and began hosting five shows a week over a six-week period.
The knowledge and experience helped him to make his own show that would sell out to 50 or 60 people at a time, however many people the bar or club could hold. After being invited on an AM radio talk show, a representative from Budweiser called Aidala and offered to sponsor him.
"He liked my concept, and they wound up going on to sponsor me for four-and-a-half years. They paid for ads, all my flyers, two by three waterproof flyers — I could've never afforded all that stuff, no way," said Aidala.
In 2004, Aidala was on the west coast and decided it was time for a change of pace. Growing up in a family business, he had always wanted to start his own business and wanted to come back to Albany and bring some laughs to the area. In April 2005, he had his first show at the Egg. Aidala had also known Tess Collins of Tess' Lark Tavern since he was 25, and she wanted him to put on a show at her tavern.
Aidala had been performing in New York City for some time and acquired a big circle of friends in the business when his plan came to him.
"The idea hit me, so I came back and sat down with Tess and Budweiser and said I want to do a showcase. We'll call it the Brew Ha-Ha Comedy Showcase. We'll mix the beer and the comedy. We kicked it off in January of 2006, and it took off," said Aidala.
Coming from a family of eight brothers and sisters, family plays a big role in Aidala's routine. It was also elemental in the development of his love of comedy. When Aidala was a child, his mother died. Instead of staying sad, he looked for the humor in things.
"My mother died when I was seven. She died of breast cancer in 1981. So, my father said when we were kids that we were going to work through this with teamwork and humor. So, humor was a big part of my life and a healing power," said Aidala.
He also got a great deal of enjoyment out of comedy shows and movies from "The Little Rascals” to the Dean Martin roast, which was one of his favorites. "Roasts” have been conducted at the Friars Club since 1949.
"That's when the roast got into my head because I saw these guys sitting around making fun of each other, and I was like ‘what the hell is this?' Low and behold, doesn't it work out that I'm in the club?" said Aidala