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October 30, 2018

Performing Comedy At MSG: “Intimate” And “Out-Of-Body”

This generation’s greatest comics flourish at The Garden, Radio City Music Hall and The Beacon Theatre.

That's Sal Vulcano on the left, hamming it up at a sold-out Madison Square Garden last year with the rest of the gang — Joe Gatto, James "Murr" Murray and Brian "Q" Quinn. "You could feel the heartbeat, the grittiness," said Sal. (Photo: Carly Boyle/MSG Photos)

A New Yorker through and through and a sentimental man, Sal Vulcano of the comedy troupe, Impractical Jokers, rode the subway to Radio City Music Hall before stepping out one stop early. On a winter afternoon two years ago, he walked the final few blocks, in this way allowing the experience to wash over him slowly and fully.

As the storied marquee grew larger in front of him, announcing the Jokers’ appearance, he stopped in his tracks. “I couldn’t help myself,” Vulcano told The Official MSG Blog. “I just started bawling.” That night, he was so overcome, he actually kissed the floor of the Great Stage.

Then last year, when the group’s manic act sold out Madison Square Garden, Vulcano cried again.

This is what a dream come true looks like.

Over generations, musicians and artists have claimed this dream. Performing at The Garden and Radio City Music Hall, as well as the Beacon Theatre, are regarded as milestone achievements, and it is no different for comics. They may start out awestruck, even intimidated, but they end up in a rarified place, having forged a connection with the city that no other venues can provide.

This year alone, Steve Martin and Martin Short brought their tandem routine to The Beacon. John Mulaney played seven shows at Radio City Music Hall and Kevin Hart appeared at MSG.

Coming up in November, as part of the New York Comedy Festival, Conan O’Brien will play ringmaster to a group of comics performing at The Beacon. Among a weeklong slew of shows throughout the city beginning Nov. 5, the Festival will also bring Bill Burr to The Garden; Jo Koy, Marc Maron, Tracy Morgan and Gabriel “Fluffy Iglesias” to The Beacon; and Jim Jefferies and the Bodega Boys to the Hulu Theater at MSG.

Sebastian Maniscalco, who did five shows at Radio City last spring, just signed on for four shows at The Garden in January. And on Friday, The Madison Square Garden Company announced that Jerry Seinfeld will extend his residency next year with multiple shows at The Beacon.

 

Setting aside his awe of Radio City Music Hall and its “grandeur,” John Mulaney said he soon felt at ease in his run of shows there earlier this year. (Photo: Carl Scheffel/MSG Photos)

“Like A Wedding”

Earlier this year, Mulaney brought his keen-eyed storytelling to five sold-out nights at another of MSG’s venues — the Chicago Theatre — before coming to Radio City. Kid Gorgeous at Radio City, captured on Netflix, won an Emmy.

Mulaney took aim at getting older, the craziness of college and even the rituals of church, his choirboy looks somehow softening the edges. He said that he found himself recalibrating from the moment the legendary hydraulic-powered elevator lifted him to the stage.

“The whole theater is so grand and big,” he said. “But then I had a different feeling — it’s big, but it’s also intimate. When I realized that, I was able to just talk to the audience, as I normally do.”

For Sal Vulcano, as he performed with the rest of his gang — Joe Gatto, James “Murr” Murray and Brian “Q” Quinn — The Garden felt familiar. As a boy, he had gone to the Ice Capades and the circus. Outside of Impractical Jokers, he cultivates his own standup routine at comedy clubs around New York. But nothing prepared him for the spotlight at MSG.

“The Garden felt like a wedding, and the way our fans reacted, we were overwhelmed by the love and support,” he said. “For the first few minutes, it was a total out-of-body experience. You could feel the heartbeat, the grittiness. It was overwhelming, but we felt at home.”

Since then, Vulcano has been back to The Garden as a fan, watching from the crowd.

“I look at someone else performing, and I swear, it feels like it never happened,” he said. “It is hard to grasp the scope of it.”

 

Interested in our Calendar of comedy shows? Click here.


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About The Madison Square Garden Company

The Madison Square Garden Company (MSG) is a world leader in live sports and entertainment experiences. The company presents or hosts a broad array of premier events in its diverse collection of iconic venues: New York’s Madison Square Garden, The Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall and Beacon Theatre; the Forum in Inglewood, CA; The Chicago Theatre; and the Wang Theatre in Boston. Other MSG properties include legendary sports franchises: the New York Knicks (NBA), the New York Rangers (NHL) and the New York Liberty (WNBA); two development league teams – the Westchester Knicks (NBAGL) and the Hartford Wolf Pack (AHL); and esports teams through Counter Logic Gaming, a leading North American esports organization, and Knicks Gaming, MSG’s NBA 2K League franchise. In addition, the Company features the popular original production – the Christmas Spectacular Starring the Radio City Rockettes – and through Boston Calling Events, produces New England’s preeminent Boston Calling Music Festival. Also under the MSG umbrella is TAO Group, a world-class hospitality group with globally-recognized entertainment dining and nightlife brands: Tao, Marquee, Lavo, Avenue, The Stanton Social, Beauty & Essex and Vandal. More information is available at www.themadisonsquaregardencompany.com