For several years now I have had the occasion to write about Long Island Comedy. Many of the most preeminent comedians around have come out of Long Island, Eddie Murphy, Lenny Bruce, Kevin James, Satan, all the greats. In all seriousness anyone who knows comedy knows that the Long Island comedy scene caters to shows all over the country and essentially has made the world laugh since the inception of the understanding of what is funny in America. I’d be willing to bet that even during the American Revolution Long Island was making strides in comedy. Am I still allowed to joke about The American Revolution? It was bloodied and horrific. We’ll Get back to that.
One of those many great Long Island comedians is Mike Dillon. Mike First aimed to get on stage way back in 1977 on one Richard M. Dixon’s open mic at a establishment Called “The White House”. Mike spoke of Eddie Murphy and Bob Nelson performing on that show before they blew up on the scene. Intimidated by his environment Mike Dillon packed his belongings and left the show. It took Mike another 25 years before he could muster up the confidence and wherewithal to get himself back on stage. He was finally able to do this in the year 2000 not too long before 9/11. After that he was seized by the comedy bug and needed to get on stage regularly. After about 3 years he found himself as a regular at Governors in Medford, which no longer exists. From those years at Governors Mike prides himself on having done the most sets of any comedian who got to perform there during it’s tenure as what he said, “was a particularly tough room”. Mike recalled the great Bobby Slayton exiting the stage on one occasion saying, “It’s not as easy as it looks”. Mike continued to do stand up until he lost his leg to diabetes, a difficulty that continues to plague Mike day to day. But as one often does with strife, out of the ashes rose something greater than oneself. Mike began producing, even at one point producing a show straight from his own hospital bed.
Mike Dillon instituted, Gateway Comedy, which is currently celebrating it’s 17th year. That means gateway Comedy will soon be old enough to drive and join the Armed Forces. He was first approached to produce shows by The Medford Inn which was near the Medford Governors at the time. Which as with any competing business, began some strife that lasted until recently, 17 years later, when Mike Dillon was able to take Gateway Comedy to his original home through The World Famous Governors Comedy Club in Levittown. Talk about full circle.
I also chatted a bit with Mike about the position comedy is in today. Anybody who watches the news recently saw Louis C.K. had an unauthorized recording of his set at Governors Comedy Club in Levittown posted on the internet. Once again reigniting the discussion of what should be allowed in comedy and what shouldn’t be allowed in comedy. A conversation that has always been and always will be as long as comedy isn’t illegal. Never forget Lenny Bruce was arrested for saying “Fuck” on stage almost 60 years ago. And to be honest even today I’m surprised my boss will let me write it here, but I sure am grateful, for no words should be forced away from ones mouth or pen. Mike somewhat agrees but sees, “mocking the murder of children as a line he doesn’t like to cross” and added, “CK threw himself into the frying pan” for salacious attention. Me, I believe lines are drawn so I know where to go and jump. I also asked Mike about some of his favorites from the past, present and the future. Rodney Dangerfield, Buddy Hackett and Jackie Leonard all came up. All particularly funny comedians. Mike based his own stand up persona on Jackie Leonard 19 years ago when he first began. Some of the current talents around in Mikes opinion are Carrie Karavas and Talia Reese. Two particularly funny comedians ripping up the comedy scene.
Turning 20 in 2020, Gateway Comedy has so much coming up. In 2018, Gateway produced 65 shows. What Mike takes the most pride in is the opportunity he has had to help so many beginners. The never ending list of comedians Mike has given opportunities to is “absolute good”. Anyone catch the reference? It isn’t always the easiest thing to find talent and produce on a weekly basis from scratch. Mike does this without haste and needs comedy as much as comedy needs him. Mike has a copius amounts of shows coming up. Hope you can join Gateway Comedy soon, your “home for hilarity”.
Check out Gateway Comedy at: https://gatewaycomedy.com/