The Anchor’s Bend, Asbury Park
New Jersey has really chipped in when it comes to our nation’s most well-known comics. As far back as the early days of vaudeville, guys like Bud Abbott and Lou Costello were hard at work entertaining us with their vaudevillian style of guffaws to radio, TV, and movies. Their hit show, “The Abbott and Costello Show,” really put them over the top and featured plenty of pratfalls, slapstick and plenty of slaps too! Ouch! The famous duo got their start at various nightclubs and venues in New Jersey and New York.
Trenton’s own Ernie Kovacs is another one. Kovacs turned TV into a wonder box of mirth and mayhem. He paved the way for shows like Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In and Saturday Night Live. Flip Wilson (Jersey City) made his mark in the Garden State as well. Utilizing a big and broad style that was more akin to a musical performance than a comedy skit, Wilson used his high-pitched female voice, a snap of the fingers and a quickening of pace to become the king of black superstars. His 1970 show, The Flip Wilson Show, put him on top of the game.
When you step back and look at the big picture, New Jersey boasts many other well-known names that were either from New Jersey or made their mark from the shore-based state and really turned the industry on its ear. Uncle Floyd (Floyd Vivino) hails from Paterson, and Jersey City’s own Marc Maron got his start on the shore and over the bridge in Manhattan. Janeane Garofalo got her start doing stand-up as she delivered her snarky and self-depreciating embodiment of 1990s spirit.
But that’s just a very compact list of New Jersey comics that went on to bigger and better things. The fact of the matter is that New Jersey has always been a top contender when it comes to giving the world a substantial portion of the world’s entertainment options. But like all upwardly mobile performers, there has to be a starting point. New Jersey has always been at the forefront for supplying many of the country’s up and coming players in both music and comedy for decades. I started playing the Asbury area back in 1979 and let me tell you, the town was already a booming mix of just about every form of entertainment going back even further than that time frame.
And even now, when the area is more concerned with building condos for out-of-town rich people and continuing a city-wide parking system plagued with problems and space shortages, performers and bands find a way to continue supplying the primary focus of the town’s locals, namely quality entertainment at a decent venue.
Jess Alaimo is the perfect example of the underdog that becomes successful. A novice comedian by nature, Alaimo has joined the very few in Monmouth County bringing her brand of comedic character to the city by the sea. Mostly ignored by the Asbury hierarchy, Alaimo, who until very recently was just a patron visiting local clubs for music and comedy, braved the town’s entertainment rules and came up with her specific brand of comedy entertainment that has become a successful weekly option. And while it’s true that she isn’t the first (The Saint has a series called Hags, Cookman Avenue’s House of Independents offers a comedy show schedule, and Angelo Gingerelli has done great things with his ensemble on Cookman Avenue) Alaimo has indeed captured something special with her weekly “Open Mic” show over at The Anchor’s Bend.
Alaimo would be the very first to admit that she has no connection to the town’s “decision makers.” She had indeed made several attempts in the past to try and get her show placed at some of the areas core influential clubs with little to no success. When it comes to Asbury Park, unless you know someone or you have a show idea that will make organizations guaranteed money, you get relegated to the bottom of the list. Fortunately for Alaimo, she managed to work out a deal with the folks over at Anchor’s Bend, and now it’s a real concept backed by the growing attendance numbers of local and non-local people looking for a night of laughs and liquor.
When I spoke to Alaimo, she had this to say. “There are a ton of really talented comics in the Asbury Park area. It was crazy to me that Asbury Park didn’t have a weekly open mic. People were driving an average of an hour or more to get to the area, and I was floored that the town didn’t have a weekly open mic show to showcase these people.” When I asked her what the highlights for such a show were, she told me, “The best part about this show is the variety of performers that come. As an example, there’s an awesome comic named Jordan Manglona, who incorporates music and voice effects. Some people utilize ventriloquism. Couples sometimes come up together to deliver their style. But most importantly the highlight for me is that people are becoming fans of the local comedic populace. People are continuing to come back week after week to see local comics perform and I think it’s a fascinating aspect of entertainment in Asbury Park.”
Well, Alaimo isn’t alone. Each week sees a steady increase of interested patrons that show up to be entertained and wined and dined, and so far, it’s a winning combination that sees the show’s popularity continue to increase each week.
If you ask me, I think it’s an interesting aspect of the old saying, “Build it and they will come.” Alaimo has hit upon a winning combination for Asbury Park and the people who want to be entertained with knock knock jokes, yuk yuk’s and general hilarious anecdotes for an otherwise run of the mill Tuesday night.
So You Want To Be A Comedian? hits every Tuesday at The Anchor’s Bend. It is a weekly show where the audience can see live local comedy and be a part of free raffle drawings. That’s right; you can win something as well. Twenty-five dollar gift certificates are given courtesy of Rebel Supply Company throughout the night.
As the press release states, “Does your mom think you’re funny? Does your Facebook continuously get the ‘laughing’ emoticon reaction? Do you own an ‘I’m With Stupid’ T-shirt? Well, here’s your chance! Step up at Asbury Park’s Comedy Open Mic! Veteran and newbie comics alike will get five minutes to provide the laughs, to practice new material, or just to see what happens. Judgement-free zone (you know, for the most part). The show is sponsored by local clothing, accessory and art store Rebel Supply Company, which provides gift cards to lucky audience members every week.”
The Anchor’s Bend is located at 1300 Ocean Ave. Asbury Park, NJ 07712. Drink specials and a dinner menu are provided. For more information check out the details over at facebook.com/jessalaimo.