Posted by: Christopher Tisdall in: Entertainment Industry
AWE in print …
MID-EVENINGS WITH JAY MILLER
The third-season “talk show” finale with special guests, singer-songwriter Kevin Devine and Uncle Vin from MTV’s “Jersey Shore”
Where: Veterans Memorial Hall on the grounds of Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden, 1000 Richmond Terr., Livingston; Snug-Harbor.org.
When: 8 p.m. July 30
How much: $7 advance, $10 at the door. More information Visit MidEvenings.com or Twitter @Midevenings. By JOE TACOPINO
STATEN ISLAND, NY — It was a pretty mellow Wednesday afternoon at a coffee shop in Stapleton until a boombox started blasting a party anthem by the electro-duo LMFAO in the back room.
“We do it as long as we can until we get thrown out,” comedian and ringleader Jay Miller instructed his entourage.
They are safe here, at the Full Cup on Van Duzer Street, but Miller and a group of comedians, writers, and musicians are rehearsing a dance routine that will be performed for unwilling spectators at various public places (the mall, the zoo, a local Starbucks) to which they have not been invited. The number will be filmed and screened at the finale of “Mid-Evenings with Jay Miller,” a mock television variety show taking place Saturday at Veterans Memorial Hall on the grounds of Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden.
“How did I go from a financial meeting to this?,” said actor and bartender Sal Vulcano as he pulled on black spandex and a torn pink T-shirt for the mini-flash-mob performance.
If it seems ridiculous that a group of grown men are practicing a dance routine at three in the afternoon on a weekday — that’s probably because it is. Not one of the five members of this group appears to be a professional dancer; a few are mildly out-of-shape to say the least; and, as far as dance crews go, it’s may be whitest one ever assembled.
AWE in print … But the whole routine is delivered with a deadpan earnestness that renders it absolutely hilarious. This brand of humor is what one can expect from the “Mid-Evenings” comedy show, which for three years has brought B-list celebrities, oddball characters, and Island icons to various stages for slapstick talk show performances.
“We always get a Staten Islander who seems to be… eccentric, I think would be the most polite way to put,” Miller said about the guests who appear on his show.
In addition to actual show business figures like Will Forte of “Saturday Night Live” and “The Colbert Report” writer Peter Gross, “Mid-Evenings” has also hosted local personalities like Douglas Franks, the flamboyantly-dressed real estate agent whose white cowboy hat headshot is plastered all over the Island’s North Shore.
“I’ll put something up on Facebook about who I should get as a guest and people will throw like 100 ideas at me,” said the 34-year-old host, who lives in St. George and works as a special-ed paraprofessional by day. “Douglas Franks, you just see him all over the place. It’s like, ‘who is that guy? We should talk to him.’”
For Saturday’s Snug Harbor performance Miller has, so far, recruited both legitimate local talent like singer/songwriter Kevin Devine alongside reality TV sub-star Uncle Nino, from MTV’s “Jersey Shore.”
“He’s just such a character, he’s perfect for it,” Miller said about the uncle of cast member Vinny Guadagnino. “I’ve met him a few times. I’ve actually never even seen an episode of the ‘Jersey Shore’ before, but everyone seems to know who he is.”
Aside from the guests, the crowd seems to come for the spectacle of the show, and the circus surrounding it.
“At this point people don’t even ask who the guests are going to be,” Jay said. “They’ve become secondary, which is really strange.”
Although it may look like all fun and games for this local comedian, his foray into performance art has been one fraught with self-doubt and anxiety. Miller has tried standup in the past and admits to “hating” it. His latest project appears to be a labor of love without diminishing returns on the latter.
“I have a love/hate relationship with it,” he said, “because it makes me crazy. Everyone always says to me, ‘You must be having the best time.’ No, I’m having a miserable time. This isn’t fun at all.”
Plenty of talented people are having fun, though, and have volunteered their time to join in. Writers Casey Jost and John Szeluga have helped Jay workshop ideas, while musician Steve Pepe provides the soundtrack. An entire crew will be completing the four-show “season” in the friendly confines of the Playhouse at Snug Harbor.
“I love Snug Harbor,” he said. “For one, I love being in a theater. Two, I love having my own green room where people can’t bother me.”
Just in case you thought a more professional environment at Snug Harbor might inflate Miller’s ego, it’s not exactly “The Tonight Show.”
“Technically, my green room is a bathroom. As long as I put a sign on the door it’s ok.”