There are venues throughout Westchester to listen to live music on a regular basis, but comedy fans have usually been faced with the inconvenience and expense of trekking to a Manhattan club to be entertained.
That has now changed. Thornwood native and Comedy North of Manhattan (NOMA) co-founder Frank Pellegrino and Lucy’s Lounge have teamed up to present weekly comedy shows at the Pleasantville nightspot.
The recently started series, Lucy’s Laugh Lounge, is at the corner bar and restaurant on Bedford Road and Wheeler Avenue known for hosting bands in the front of the house. It is now able to transform its party space in the rear into a small comedy club.
“That was it for me, bringing comedy to the community,” said Pellegrino, of his motivation to start booking comedy shows in 2013 and to do the series. “That’s still it. That’s always been it. This is an opportunity I’m really grateful to have. It’s not just one show a month. It’s doing the right thing for the people coming to the shows.”
For now, Lucy’s Laugh Lounge is featuring one 90-minute show a week that’s typically on a Friday or Saturday evening. Down the road, there could be two or three shows a week, he said. There is an opening act followed by the headliner. Most shows start at about 7:30 or 8 p.m., in time to clear out for the live music in the main part of the establishment.
There is a $20 cover charge but there are no drink minimums or other mandatory expenses like the Manhattan clubs, Pellegrino said. Patrons are free to order food and drinks before or after the show and stay for the musical performance to just to schmooze.
Pellegrino has booked most weekends into April. Having scheduled shows through NOMA for close to five years, he has a directory of 50 to 60 working comedians living in Westchester and Putnam. Many are regularly featured at clubs in the city and jump at the chance to perform close by when available.
This Friday night Paul Virzi will be featured, followed by Neko White and Regina DeCicco on Feb. 16 and 24, respectively. Other headliners booked for March and early April include Tommy Gooch and Yorktown’s Tom Grossi, plus a Not Moms Comedy Show featuring women comics Maryelle Turner, Chrissie Mayr and Tara Cannistraci.
“There are so many here that it’s criminal that there is not a quality comedy club that’s doing stuff for the community with a free open mic,” Pellegrino said.
So far, the space at Lucy’s has worked well, he said. About 50 chairs are set up in rows in front of the stage. There’s also a balcony overlooking the room that fits about 20 standing patrons, making for an intimate and fun atmosphere.
“It’s kind of a great scene where they don’t need us, they have their private parties, but when they don’t have one we’re going to put on a show,” Pellegrino said.
He had thought about reaching out to Lucy’s because the venue was the sight of two of NOMA’s earliest shows and were quite successful. However, Rob Catalano, who recently took over as Lucy’s general manager, beat Pellegrino to the punch.
Catalano recalled how much he enjoyed the NOMA shows and was looking to diversify Lucy’s clientele. He contacted Pellegrino and they devised the idea for a regular comedy series.
“If people are coming in here to see music all the time, then you don’t have music on a certain night or they don’t like the band, they’re not coming,” Catalano explained. “So my thing is how do we get some people in here for something different? To me, comedy seemed like a perfect match because there’s really nothing like that around here.”
Pellegrino said along with having multiple weekly shows in the future he plans to schedule comedy classes for aspiring comedians. Comedy coaches will be brought in to instruct budding comics in a working space.