The Cookman entertainment scene is steeped in traditional offerings of the very best. From local heroes to world-famous rock stars, they’ve all played a part in this area’s notoriety. And while musical contributors still rule the day, other forms of entertainment have either been constant mainstays in the area, or are coming into their own as we speak.
During the unpredictable late 1980s through early 1990s desolation, art galleries were actually the business that dominated the playing field of Cookman Avenue. They were responsible for holding down that sector of the city’s cultural continuation just as the original music kept iconic rooms on the oceanfront from going under.
As the city’s image prospered and softened, the once dreary sector began to bloom, and musical entertainment and the art world once again led the charge from the Cookman dogleg to the sea. The galleries, suffocated by the “comedy of errors” real estate greed, came back strong. Coffee shops expanded with live music, little record stores like Holdfast hit back like the old days of the Nashville scene, blowing the doors off of the little street with concerts by famed rockers. Shops opened doors onto sidewalks, music dominated the block. And now, comedy steps up to add to the eclectic and energizing mix.
Now, before you try to correct my impeccable tirade, I know comedy has been on the scene for a long time. From Point Pleasant to Cherry Hill and beyond, comedy has made an indelible mark upon the entertainment map of the state for decades. Look at the early upbringing and renderings of Danny DeVito, Joe Piscopo or Jason Alexander. New and rising jokesters have also scratched their mark in the town’s tree of laughs. Guys like Anthony Jeselnik and Mike Marino have left Monmouth County attendees knee slapping in the aisles at citywide locations. Many rooms have risen to the giggling occasion, sprouting up and belching out greats before fading into the annals of Jersey entertainment lore.
Hell, even Rae Fisher and Harry Abbott threw their hat into the game with their Asbury offspring Bud Abbott. Abbott and Costello used to ham it up with their illustrious “Who’s on First” over at the Berkeley Carteret’s Oak Bar on many an occasion during the town’s 1940s heyday. Myriads of long-gone neon-tinged supper clubs offered nameless shark-skinned jokesters to dining patrons along the oceanfront and deep into the sparkling excitable core of the city. Club stages, posh lounges, and rumba rooms blazed with the joyous sound of laughter in a time from long ago.
But comedy is back in town and it is here to stay. Angelo Gingerelli is the focus of my piece and he is the architect that utilizes the class-lined vibrations of the past to bring hearty focus on the present.
“Comedy on Cookman” is a positive monthly showcase consisting of up-and-coming comics at The ShowRoom Cinema. Featuring three unique and original comics, Gingerelli and crew focus their style on gritty stand-up and audience participation in a “Five Rounds” Panel Discussion. The lynchpin of the show is Gingerelli, a comic who hails from the rough, Greenwich Village gauntlet of improv. Beginning in 2006 and jostling day job conundrums with nightly shows in the “Big Bad Apple,” Gingerelli has rolled his love of laughter into a unique presentation, and is the new frontman of this comedy syndicate.
After years of city gigs and personal responsibilities, Gingerelli gravitated toward the area. He eventually became part of the ongoing ShowRoom comedy army, honing community closeness and collecting the very best area comedians for what would eventually become the current “Comedy on Cookman.”
As his Asbury call to arms became clearer, Angelo assumed the role of show producer. A seasoned veteran, Gingerelli’s style and expertise have become the guiding light of laughter down the lane. The ShowRoom, in conjunction with its stable of comedic talent, is the perfect venue for visual acts. The room’s plush seating and focus of attention is front and center, and the staff are passionate contributors to a town on the rise. With the avid support of The ShowRoom, “Comedy on Cookman” is fast becoming an established addition to the entertainment power base of Asbury Park.
Angelo is also involved with a short film co-produced with fellow comedian Joel Rose called Exit: NJ.
The film covers the hilarious dreams of a young New Jersey youth and his desperate wishes to escape the everyday doldrums of the Garden State. Guido’s, strip malls, tanning salons, and night club techno pepper this comedic slap at a state known more for “The Situation” than for the deeds of Solomon Andrews or Thomas Edison.
Gingerelli focuses his film around future college boy Vincent and his lost laptop filled with his entrance exam essays—the ticket out of his Seaside purgatory. With the help of “Miraj, The Bombay Baller,” Vincent commits to a helter-skelter journey to find his computer and get the hell out of dodge before he succumbs to the regular “Jersey Guy” pitfalls.
But as if all of this isn’t enough, Gingerelli would be the first to tell you that he isn’t the only game in town, and his “Partners in Smiles” (sorry) offer a veritable smorgasbord of laughs.
Bank on Mattison Avenue offers their Comedy Open Mic on every other Wednesday. Featuring free admission for the crowd, Bank coordinators give each comic five to 10 minutes to get you spitting your Makers Mark onto the floor.
Scott and Meg over at The Saint get into the game with “The Spelling Bee.” Featuring Taylor Allen as host, “The Spelling Bee” focuses on the alternative genre of chuckle masters. Names such as Kyle Kinane and Kurt Braunohler headline after local comedians do their dark and brooding thing.
Lake Avenue’s Crust and Crumble offer “Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizzeria” open mics on every other Thursday free of charge. Comedians such as Dan Gagliardi, Rob Avon and Melissa Jouben fire off oven hot lines to appreciative and steady crowds.
And, of course, there’s “Where Music Lives.” The Cookman Avenue space holds weekly Improv Jams featuring a plethora of up-and-coming masters of kōmōidí.
Gingerelli’s press release hails other out-of-town venues and artist that also round out the comedic family. Bust-A-Gut Comedy Club in Ocean offers high visibility names and The Dublin House in Red Bank is home to the Jersey Jokers, a troupe featuring Chris Covert. Both rooms offer extremely viable options for anyone looking for a laugh or two.
When Angelo first contacted me, I had no idea of the size or ongoing potential of his comedy-based movement. But under the direction of all involved, “Comedy on Cookman” takes its well-earned place in the entertainment hierarchy in this expanding city by the sea.
You will be able to see Gingerelli’s methods of mayhem in person on April 18 at The ShowRoom as they usher in their “Running Joke” Race/Show/Fundraiser. “Comedy on Cookman” will enter a team of stand-up comics in the Jersey Shore Relay Marathon as part of the RunAPalooza weekend in Asbury Park. The team will consist of “Comedy on Cookman” host/producer Angelo Gingerelli and stand-up comics Kevin Andreosky, John Poveromo, and Sean O’Brien. The team will complete the 26.2-mile course before performing at The ShowRoom Cinema on Cookman Ave.
For more information on Angelo Gingerelli, his blitzkrieg of humorous colleagues and the growing presence of New Jersey comedy, head over to fifthroundmovement.com.