Laughter’s Medicine, Complements Of The Comedy Company
By Susan LeDoux
“By the time this issue will be ready, all of us will be longing for comedy. Laughter is the best medicine. Humor is essential. God needs to be put back in everything, no doubt, but laughter helps anxiety, stress, bad moods, and depression,” Liberto told The Good News.
If you visit his webpage, www.noclowns.com, you will see he has the art of comedy covered — from performance, to being an emcee, to booking performances. He teaches classes, and supports new comedians through open mic nights and performance critiques.
Liberto sees the hand of God in the formation of his career. He said he was always good at spontaneous remarks. “I think I had a knack for trying to be funny early on. To get people to laugh was a great thing. It felt good. It was easy to do because it just came naturally.”
As he started doing comedy at open mics in 1983, he was rising in his career at the Sheraton Hotel in Rochester. He had started as a bellman and moved up to director of sales and marketing. Liberto did not know then that God was instilling the business acumen he later would need to become a comedy specialist of his own comedy company.
His funny bone would not let up, even while he was working in the hotel industry. The question “What if?” haunted him. What if he chucked it all and went into comedy?
“I said, ‘I don’t want to sit back there and go ‘what if?’ So, let’s just go!”
In 1989 he did just that and toured Canada, playing for their biggest comedy chain, Yuk Yuks. He never looked back.
Is it worth chasing a dream? Liberto responded, “If nobody tries to take the dream, it will never turn out at all. This may be a stupid analogy, but it’s like if you want to win the lottery, and you don’t buy the ticket, your chances of winning are absolutely zero.”
Working for other comedy companies in the States helped him hone his comedic skills, especially, and most importantly, timing and delivery. But there is a down side to touring when some of the bookings fall out while on the road.
“If there’s a cancellation, too bad. You are out of luck — no money, no lodging for that night or the rest of the week.”
Consequently, Liberto decided he would become the one to book that college, American Legion post, fire hall or nightclub, and bring comedy to them.
“For example, nobody’s golfing on a golf course in the middle of winter, and their big, beautiful banquet room sits empty. I call them and propose, ‘Let’s do a comedy/dinner show.’ They put 200 people in there and make a ton of money.”
Liberto books hilarious comedians, many of whom are his friends. “These are professional comics I’ve worked with for over 20 years. I know I can put them in a church comedy show, and they’re not going to say anything offensive.”
He observed there is not a lot of Christian comedy. Although larger churches have featured a comic here and there, until his Comedy Company, there were not too many offering clean comics for any event, be it a picnic, graduation, or wedding.
“We’ll go into whatever event it is and tailor make it based on what they’re looking for.”
To combine tailor-made material, and deliver it with impeccable timing, is no small feat. The comedian must be able to think on his feet, whether he is the main performer or the emcee — another of Liberto’s skills.
“When I emcee, I set up the show with people in the crowd. Like the person on the left, the person to the right, the person in the center. I greet them from the beginning, talk to them. Now they’re becoming part of the show. If any time there’s something I want to address, I’ll just spin over to the guy on the left of stage and bring him in again, at any time in the show. It’s unexpected and funny. And that’s timing. Timing is everything, and every comic has to master that, or they’re just not going to make it.”
Liberto spoke of spontaneity. Maybe the Mayor is in the audience. “You have to come up with a nice, clean mayoral joke on the spot. And you can never do those jokes in another show. You’re never going to have the mayor, or some guy with a cowboy hat, wearing ice skates, in the front row, in another show. They happen to be in that show, that night, so you’d better be quick.”
Like all comics, he writes his own material, and like other professional and amateur comics, tests it on open mic nights. (Currently at 58 Main Street Brockport, NY, usually on the last Tuesday of the month).
“I provide a cash prize for the funniest comic, and a gift certificate to a restaurant that allows us to host it there. Because I’m a comedy booking agency, I’m going to give the comics valuable stage time and money. That’s my goal — to run a business to make people laugh while making a profit and making money for comics.”
Liberto added, “Laughter is good for healing, stress, and anxiety, emotionally and physically. It provides relief, because when your mind laughs, your body releases endorphins, and you feel good naturally.
“Making people laugh, and bringing people closer to God through comedy, makes them feel good. We honor God by using His gifts. And that’s win-win situation.”
To learn more about The Comedy Company visit at www.noclowns.com.