LEVITTOWN, New York — Comedian Greg Giraldo's passing, reportedly due to an accidental drug overdose, rocked the comedy circuit. While family and friends were shaken by the sudden death, they were allotted an outlet at the Governor's Comedy Club tribute and benefit show in Levittown, New York on Friday night.
The turnout was immense at the venue, where Giraldo was scheduled to appear, and the event raised over $3,000 in support for Geraldo's family. Club owner Marc Lund managed to organize the event on just two days notice, easily booking comedians from all across the state with tremendous support.
"We wanted to celebrate his life," said Lund. "A lot of comics use this as a release."
The show was opened and hosted by comic Joey Kola, followed by a slew of acts from the snarky Carie Karavas, veteran funnyman Melvin George, Joe Starr, Tim Gage and Darren Dillon just to name a few. Laughs were met with tears as each performer shared their stories of the late comedian.
"I met Greg before he was famous," Gage said, joking that he would tell Giraldo, who attended Harvard Law School and turned to comedy after working as a lawyer, "Don't tear up your law degree."
The general consensus of the night was the "King of Roasts" was a truly "genuine guy." Having worked with and served as a source of inspiration for many of the performers, Giraldo would watch the acts of upcoming comedians and offer straight-forward feedback.
George had the opportunity to open for Giraldo at his final show in New Brunswick, New Jersey and fondly remembered his comedic prowess. "It took the audience 30 seconds to forget about me once he got on stage."
The show closed with the reading of a heartfelt letter drafted by Ted Alexandro on Facebook. He spoke of Giraldo as a "maestro of comedy" and a "professor" to up-and-coming performers.
Following the reading, the club presented a video of Giraldo's acts. Audience members were visibly overcome by emotion and many fans felt the need to rush outside.
"I couldn't watch his video," said Hope Slovin, a longtime fan. "I had a lump in my throat the whole time."
The night a mixture of laughs and tears and provided a much-needed release for friends and much-appreciated funds for the family.
"When something like this happens, we all come together," Kola said.
Were you at the event? Share your memories of Giraldo in the comments.