Two industry veterans bring much-needed comedy to Boca’s cultural landscape
It was always the plan for Dave and Stephanie Siegel to move from their 700-square-foot apartment in New York City after the birth of their second child. They picked a serendipitous time to follow through on their plan, moving to Boca Raton Feb. 28, 2020—two weeks before their former metropolis would emerge as the epicenter of the coronavirus.
The Siegels’ day jobs involve the news business—she’s an Emmy-winning former TV reporter who runs the insider website newsblues.com, and he produces anchor Ashleigh Banfield’s news hour on the cable network NewsNation—jobs they have fortunately been able to continue remotely. But they share a passion for standup comedy, too. Stephanie met Dave when he was 26 and opening for Tom Arnold at the Laugh Factory in Los Angeles. He’s continued to moonlight as a distinguished comic, twice appearing on Comedy Central.
Late last year, they decided to bring their love of comedy to their adopted home, launching Comedy on the Green, a monthly socially distanced comedy series, at Mizner Park Amphitheater, with a professional New York comic headlining each performance. Attendees enjoyed lawn seating, picnic-style family seating on rented blankets, and VIP tickets in rented Adirondack chairs.
The Siegels hope to continue Comedy on the Green into the new year, with Dave noting that its perks are both creative and financial; in December’s show, he opened for the headliner. “[In New York City], we literally lived around the corner from a comedy club where I would work pretty frequently, so much so that I would do two shows on a Friday or Saturday and come home between the two. Coming down here, we knew that there were going to be a lot fewer options. While performing is going to be a small part of the work that goes into this production, it also is going to exercise those creative muscles as well.”
How would you describe your own style and your material as a comic?
Dave: Not that I’m splitting the atom or anything. It’s sarcastic anecdotes about family and relationships and observational humor. Myfavorite part is trying a new bit and slipping it in, wedging it in a strategic place between two bits that work, and seeing how it goes.
When it comes to booking talent for this series, do you have a large Rolodex of comics from which to choose?
Dave: Yeah, but the challenge is, Mizner Amphitheater said a couple of curse words here and there are fine, but there’s going to be people eating dinner outside…
Stephanie: We can’t have comedians screaming the f-word, because people in Max’s Grille might fall off their chairs.
Dave: That eliminates probably 70 percent of the comedy pool. You want someone who’s hilarious but who’s also relatively clean. That’s a testament to the comedians we’re bringing down.
How important is laughter in the time we’re currently living in?
Dave: A common response when I stand outside clubs after a show is, ‘thank you, I needed that.’ I do feel that chemically, it releases endorphins, and makes you happy. I think it’s just accentuated in the era of COVID. People do need this, and we’re happy to provide it.
Did you expect that in fall 2021, when your series began, that we’d all still need to be socially distancing?
Stephanie: A lot of these venues aren’t doing it now. But I think we’re choosing to social distance now. We feel like it would make us feel like better citizens if we didn’t pack people in, even if our bottom line would be much higher if we could.
Is COVID funny; are we at a point where it can be joked about?
Dave: I think any topic can be joked about if you’re a talented enough comedian to make it funny. If you’re not a talented enough comedian, you’re going to fail miserably, the higher the stakes of the subject matter get. COVID is obviously a very serious subject matter, so if a comedian is able to pull it off, all the kudos to him or her.