For the past five years, funnyman Joe Gerics has plumbed the New York comedy scene in search of an audience — which is no mean feat in a city that is not lacking for performers.
“In New York, you can’t walk five feet without running into a comic,” Gerics said.
But when the Connecticut-born Gerics recently moved back from New York to Trumbull, he became frustrated in realizing that local venues for comics were mostly limited to occasional shows at small bars and restaurants.
“I wanted to find some place to perform without having to drive an hour-and-a-half to get there,” he said. “I think that there are a lot of comics here in Connecticut that don’t have the opportunity to get stage time as frequently as you can in New York. It will be nice for them to have a place a little closer to home.”
Unlike many other performers, Gerics is also business oriented — he produces a biweekly stand-up showcase at the New York Comedy Club and his day job involves sales for Yelp’s restaurant technology division Nowait. He produced a comedy show at Bridgeport’s Bijou Theatre, but he was eager to find a more intimate setting for stand-up productions.
Last year, Gerics and other Fairfield Prep alumni held a special event at the Fairfield Circle Inn in Fairfield. The hotel’s co-owner, Edward Gormbley, was a former classmate of Gerics’ and was impressed with the talent that was assembled. When Gerics circled back to discuss plans to launch a weekly happening called the Fairfield Comedy Club, Gormbley offered his hotel as its host site.
“I thought it was a great idea,” said Gormbley, who bought the Fairfield Circle Inn in 2015 with Clay Fowler and renovated the once-shabby 1959 property into a modern establishment. “The area needs it.”
However, the Fairfield Circle Inn does not have a lounge or performing space to accommodate a stage show — the hotel has a pair of conference rooms but these were considered too small for live performances. For the Fairfield Comedy Club, the lobby of the hotel — which Gerics used for the Fairfield Prep alumni event — will be reconfigured with portable walls to create a venue.
“Joe is experimenting with this,” Gormbley said. “He wants to put something out there to see what works.”
Gerics’ first Fairfield Comedy Club show is planned for April 29 at 8 p.m., with new shows to follow every Saturday evening. Tickets will be $15 in advance and $20 at the door. “The area is kind of underserved in terms of live performance and live comedy,” he said. “Our hope is that there is a market for it and people are looking for a different and fun way to spend the evening. We want to let people know, ‘Hey, we’re going to be here every Saturday. If you’re looking for something to do and you’re in the mood for live comedy, we’ll be around.’”
Although the Fairfield Comedy Club has shows booked through mid-June, Gerics acknowledged there is no guarantee that the Fairfield Comedy Club will become an instant hit. “It is not an easy business,” he said. “It is challenging and we’re up to the challenge.”
If anything, Gerics is hopeful that the Fairfield Comedy Club will snag him a compliment that he said has eluded him during his career. “No one ever said I was funny — I am hoping this is it!”