The past two years have been kind to Asbury Park. New condos went up and boutique hotels moved in, sharing the boardwalk with the likes of a pinball museum and a fortune telling booth. An infusion of twentysomthings brought their brand of hip to Bangs Avenue in the form of cafes, trendy coffee shops and cozy rock venues. Art galleries, chic restaurants and supped up vintage outlets abound. This month the reinvention of the beachfront town continues-Asbury Park is getting its very own Comedy Festival. On Saturday, August 25th comedy superstars like Margaret Cho, Mike Florentine and Mike Marino are strolling into the Paramount Theatre to put on a show benefiting The Lenny Bruce Foundation.
The event, to be mingled with an all-day rock show at the legendary Wonder Bar, is the brainchild of Nick Clemons-aka Clarence Clemons III, son of the beloved E Street Band tenor sax player. Here, Clemons talks about the genesis of the festival, picking up on his dad's charitable service and why putting on a comedy show is no laughing matter.
eTalentShowcase: How did you come up with the idea of bringing a comedy festival to Asbury Park?
Clemons: Well, I was looking for help for a friend. My dad's former manager, Darlene Delano, turned me on to Kitty Bruce, Lenny Bruce's daughter. And one thing led to another. The facility she has, Lenny's House, has helped many women suffering from drug and alcohol addictions. I was able to see firsthand how it worked.
eTalentShowcase: Why are you combining comedy with the Wonder Bar music show?
Clemons: We always wanted to have a show where all my good friends could get together and perform. The Wonder Bar has been very kind to us-they thought it would be a great night. My guys in The Nick Clemons Band have been great about playing for causes and they didn't let me down.
eTalentShowcase: Have you worked with Lenny's House before?
Clemons: Darlene Delano has become a close family friend and she runs the Lenny Bruce estate. My father had helped in the past... We're looking forward to the event.
eTalentShowcase: How did you recruit such great comedic headliners to a first-time event?
Clemons: That thanks goes to Marshall Chiles, a producer and comedy club owner from Atlanta. He was instrumental in getting the comedians, along with local promoter, Marta Silecchia.
eTalentShowcase: Seems like a comedy festival is a natural for Asbury Park. Is there talk of making this an annual event?
Clemons: We're certainly considering that.
eTalentShowcase: Are you expecting a sell out? How many seats does the Paramount offer?
Clemons: The venue holds 1,600 seats. We'd love a sellout, of course.
eTalentShowcase: What goes on behind the scenes when orchestrating this kind of event?
Clemons: A lot! You need patience, dedication and a tough skin-and key people to keep everyone motivated and moving in the right direction. Special thanks to Sue Shea and Terry Camp, Esq. and our staff led by Mike Falia.See Profile for ASBURY PARK COMEDY FESTIVAL