Before I started working at New Jersey 101.5 I worked as general manager and house emcee at Catch a Rising Star in the Princeton Hyatt, where I still perform from time to time. "Catch" was run by Mike Tommasino who passed away this weekend of a heart attack. Last October Mike had spent nine days in a medically induced coma suffering from bacterial pneumonia. Mike was truly one of the comedy good guys and trust me, there aren't many.

Mike really cared about the club and its patrons and especially the comics, who he went out of his way to make feel comfortable whether you were starting out doing a guest spot or headlining. I loved hanging out and talking comedy with him, both at the club or on the phone.

Catch a Rising Star owner Suzy Yengo:

"Mike was the most loyal Catch fan on earth. The air he breathed was Catch. The blood in his veins was comedy. He held the art of comedy with reverence and presented with precision and passion. He so respected comics.

 

Many are unaware that Mike raised two sons by himself by his own choice. Do you know how much of a struggle this had to be? I am in awe. This is the measure of a father with unbounded love. I will so miss our daily chats, especially when I'd ask how we did last night and he'd give me the weekend figure. This is the measure of a fine bulls***er. If you can measure life by how much one is loved, then Mike's life was an immeasurable success."

Comedian Julia Scotti from her Facebook page:

"When I came back to performing after my open-heart bypass surgery, my very first show was at Catch A Rising Star in Princeton. I did it there for two reasons: First, I wanted a good place to film the event for Susan Sandler’s documentary, and second, I knew that Mike Tommasino would work his ass off to make sure that the place was filled and we could get good footage.

 

He didn’t disappoint. Some of the performance footage made it into the film. Unfortunately, the interview with Mike didn’t. While I’m not at liberty to share that footage with you all, I want you to know that Mike was always cheerleading for me and my career. In fact, I was just one of a bunch of us comics that Mike cheered for.

 

He supported comedians of all stripes-newbies and vets alike. He was always willing to give a newbie a break and offer stage time on coveted weekend shows. Very (and I mean very) few clubs are willing to do that.

 

Mike lived and breathed comedy and his beloved Catch. He was always coming up with ideas to promote the place and took great pride when his efforts resulted in sold-out shows.

If and when this pandemic madness becomes just a lousy, bitter memory and Catch reopens, it’s going to be hard to walk in there and not see his big goofy smile or how he somehow copped me a free meal when he wasn’t supposed to. He will be missed by us all and comedy will be lesser for his absence. Thanks for everything, Mike."

The last time I saw Mike was when we worked together on Valentine's Day with Bobby Collins and Jeffrey Paul. Collins texted to me, "In Life as in comedy, the cream rises to the top. Mike Tommasino was the cream!" Jeffrey Paul also texted me and said, "Last Valentine’s Day, remember we were all together, he looked good and couldn’t be nicer."

That could be Mike on any night. If ever there was a comedy club manager you would drink a toast too, it would be Mike Tommasino.

Salute my friend. Rest in peace brother and make the new comics coming in up there feel the way you made us feel down here.

Here are some remembrances from both comics and fans of Mike:

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Steve Trevelise. Any opinions expressed are Steve's own. Steve Trevelise is on New Jersey 101.5 Monday-Thursday from 7pm-11pm. Follow him on Twitter @realstevetrev.

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