LOL! Jim Mendrinos (far left in white) and Lori Sommer (in black) led the Comedy Crew to their big debuts.
Marco Berrios

Despite our concern for Pat, we all start chuckling. This could be the night’s funniest punch line, and it eases the tension as Lori enters the lounge as emcee for the show.

“Break a leg,” we tell Jeffrey, who despite his jitters is looking dapper in a charcoal suit. We then peer through the windows of the door. My stomach is rolling like a carnival ride when the ebullient Larry Greca, a 32-year-old rap-artist-turned-notary-public, says, “We did it.” And I know exactly what he means.

We had done it. Despite our different paths, each member of the Comedy Crew had found the courage to try something they had always wanted to do. We faced our fears, challenged convention, dared to fail and shoved one another back onstage when we did.

Before long, Lori calls my name. “Let’s give a big round of applause for our next comedian, Kathleen Parrish!”

I take a deep breath and stride through the door. 

KATHLEEN PARRISH is a freelance magazine writer and an instructor of journalism at Lafayette College in Easton, Pa. She has written about adult beauty pageants, silent retreats and opera star Andrea Bocelli for American Way.


CATY BABB (stage name Kayla Stilar) is a singer and actress in New York represented by David Guc of Vanguard Management Group, Access Talent and Abrams Artists. She studied theater with Lady Gaga at Circle in the Square when they were teens. She is now honing her acting craft with legendary acting coach Susan Batson.

JOHNNY CAROLINO, 36, drives a truck. He grew up in Venezuela and moved to the U.S. when he was 18. He refers to himself as the “English-as-a-second-language comedian.”

MICHELLE CONRAD, 26, recently got a job as a server at an alehouse on Staten Island, N.Y.

PHIL GABLE is a freelance copywriter living in Brooklyn, N.Y., who performs four to five times a week at open-mic nights.

LARRY GRECA, 32, grew up in Brooklyn, N.Y., and is a former rap singer who now works as a notary public and a consultant for a debt-service company. He once wore a yellow smiley costume to class.

JEFFREY HUNT, 49, hails from Delhi, N.Y. Each week, he drove four hours each way to attend class at Gotham.

JASON KURTZ, 36, is the father of a 2-year-old son and a digital producer at CNN. The class was a gift from his wife.

PAT LOMBARDI is a psychic medium and pet communicator from Hoboken, N.J.

CHARLIE MACRIS, 64, is an improv actor and studied at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater in New York.

JENNIFER MOSES is a senior copywriter at an advertising agency in New York. When she was growing up in West Virginia, she used to practice being a comedian in front of the mirror, using a hairbrush as a microphone.

GEORGE PECORARO, 25, recently graduated from the University of New Hampshire, where he had a scholarship to play football. He now lives in northern New Jersey.

DEAN RUEL, 26, dropped out of college with one semester remaining and moved to New York from Boston last year to pursue comedy full time. “Those of us drawn to the art are hurt people trying to make sense of life,” he says.