The Saratogian (August 24, 2010) - By Rebecca Eppelmann, for The Scene
SARATOGA SPRINGS — Walk down Broadway during track season and it might be reasonable to assume the bigger the smile on someone's face, the better their bets were. This summer though, there's a kink in that plan. Comedian Greg Aidala is making a wager of his own - that he, and his very funny friends - will make you laugh no matter how much you've won or lost.
On Aug. 26, Aidala is wrapping up weekly shows at the Dee Sarno Theatre and Arts Center with Clayton Fletcher, who has appeared on HBO's Sex and the City and MTV.
Known throughout the Capital District, Aidala has been voted best local comedian by the Times Union poll every year since 2007. A Loudonville native, he attended South Colonie schools, Hudson Valley Community College and SUNY Albany. According to his website, prior to his stand-up career, he had a presence in college plays, short films and as the lead in Chicken Little in fourth grade.
After some acting classes in college, and with some guidance from a professor who said he had a thing for acting, the funny man got his break in 2001.
Seeing an ad in Metroland looking for performers to open for Saturday Night Live alum Colin Quinn, Aidala called to follow-up. For three weeks, he called the number from the ad, getting rejected the first two because he didn't have a tape, having never done stand-up before. Even with the completely fabricated excuse, "I only perform on Amtrak and Southwest and they don't allow me to tape," it didn't work.
After weeks of calling and convincing, he was finally told he had 10 minutes of stage time. For the next seven weeks, Aidala, with his friends and family, put together a 10 minute routine. With over 400 people in attendance, Aidala was the first to perform at the event and, describing his first 10 minutes of stand-up, he said "It felt good, it felt right. The host afterward asked me how long I'd been doing stand-up and I told him it was my first time and he was shocked." Now, Aidala is giving others their chance to get on stage. Through the Knowledge Network, Aidala has been teaching stand-up classes since 2008, and it was through one of his students that he was introduced to the Dee Sarno Theatre.
"A stand-up comedy student of mine from the past April, Adrianna Flax, books the theater space," Aidala said. "After the workshop graduation show, she approached me and asked if I'd be interested in meeting with her and her boss about the possibility of working together. After the first meeting, I knew that I wanted to bring my showcase to the theater."
And so, the Brew Ha-Ha has been making people laugh every Thursday this month. Among those to take the stage since the first show on Aug. 5 have been Andy Pitz, Pat Dixon and Bernadette Pauley, along with local comedians whose talent Aidala has helped to showcase.
According to Aidala, it took almost no convincing at all to bring the nationally recognized comedians to Saratoga Springs. "The comedians are not only on my roster, but they are old friends, as well. When I informed them that I was bringing my showcase to Saratoga, they all wanted to be a part of it," he said.
Three of the four comedians have performed in the city before, as has Aidala who performed at Saratoga's First Night two years ago. During that performance, he said, the audiences were great, adding "I'm truly looking forward to performing in Saratoga again, especially during track season. It is NOW show time."
Aidala jokes that the reason people should come to the show is because he spent a lot of money putting the production together and he needs to make it back. "Seriously, I want people to come out and enjoy themselves and laugh the night away," he adds. "Isn't that what it's all about in Saratoga? Laughing your track losses away?" Win or lose at the track, there's one guarantee with Aidala's shows: you'll always have the last laugh.
The Dee Sarno Theatre at the Arts Center is located at 320 Broadway in Saratoga Springs. The Brew Ha-Ha will feature Clayton Fletcher with shows at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. Thursday. Aug. 26. Tickets are $15 each. For more information on the show, or for information about Greg Aidala's upcoming stand-up comedy workshop, visit his website at www.gregaidala.com.