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Steve Trevelise interviews Ed Kaz about NJ comedy

Ed Kaz has been covering comedy in New Jersey for the Asbury Park Press for the last 10 years. His column is read by many comedy fans in the Garden State, as well as by comedians. I caught up with Kaz to chat about the ever changing Jersey comedy scene.

ST – “Who was the first comic you wrote about? Were you nervous? Ever been nervous interviewing a comic?”

EK – “I think maybe the first comic I wrote about was Jim Breuer.  Nervous?  Can anyone be nervous talking to Jim Breuer?  He’s the coolest guy ever.  Actually there was only one time when I became slightly nervous for a few seconds, and that was for George Carlin.  I did a phoner with him and as I was hearing that voice I started to think, ‘ED! What the heck are you doing talking to George Carlin? NOT WORTHY!’ He’s The Beatles of comedy, in my opinion.”

ST – “What is it about New Jersey comics that stand out from others across the country?”

EK – “Attitude.  You need to be defensive, actually OFFENSIVE in every sense of the word to be a Jersey comic.  Go on the offense.  ’I'm from New Jersey. Anyone here got a problem wit dat?”  I repeat.  Attitude.  You don’t hear good or somethin?’”

ST – “Which comics were the biggest pain in the asses to deal with?”

EK – “Most of them are actually really nice. Seriously, not one was a pain in the ass.  Richard Lewis tried to be a pain in the ass, but he ends up coming off as a sweetheart.  Actually, you’re a pain in the ass for asking such a question of me.”

ST – “What comics most impressed you in your dealing with them?”

EK – “Well, Don Jamieson was very impressive, because he actually mailed me a thank you card. Not email, mail!  He’s up to something, that guy. And as far as the legendary types, David Brenner was just amazing to talk to.  He loved to talk, and loved to riff, and I was able to do that with him.  His mind was pure lightning.  I talked to him twice.  Miss that guy a lot. Stephen Wright is very cool too.  I pitched him one of my Stephen Wright-styled jokes and he actually laughed. It was probably a mercy laugh, but still.”

ST – “What was the joke?”

EK – “I went to a yard sale at a scientist’s house and I bought a periodic coffee table of the elements.”

ST – “Which unknown Jersey comics should we be paying attention to?”

EK – “I really don’t know, because they’re unknown! Tee hee. Well, I can’t really single any one out, but there are a whole bunch of ‘em percolating in the smaller joints.  I’d advise folks to check out ‘Comedy on Cookman’ in Asbury Park. It’s a once-a-month thing, cheap, and chock full of local up and comers. Who knows? You can say you saw the Next Big Comic before he or she becomes that.”

ST – “If you were going to see the ultimate New Jersey comedy show featuring three comedians, who would be on that bill?”

EK – “I’d like to see Abbott and Costello, with Tom Papa (he’s from Passaic) moderating.  That would be the ultimate for me.”

Are there any New Jersey comics you feel we should know about? Tell us about them in the comments below.

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