Two Local Comedians Among Them
BY Jananne Abel
(Original publication: May 9, 2003)

During his tenure as mayor of Rye Brook, Frank Filipowski has lightened up the way he runs village board meetings. He jokes with members of the audience, fellow board members and other village officials now and then, in an effort to keep the tone from becoming too serious. Perhaps it's his son's influence. Josh Fiipowski has been doing stand-up comedy in New York City since last summer, and recently organized a group of comedians called Like2Laugh which has been making the rounds in Westchester.

Their first show was at Taos Bar and Grill in Port Chester, in March, where 11 performers took the stage with emcee Barbara Ricci of Yonkers introducing them. Some were funnier than others, and the staging made it difficult to hear from the back of the room with the competing din of people talking in the adjacent bar. However, it was evident that some of the performers had talent. Others didn't.

Since then, the group has been cut in half and Ricci is no longer involved, she and Josh having a differ- ence of opinion about what their act should be.

There are now six comedians ~ Filipowski of Rye Brook, SashaGuillaume of Port Chester, Jill Twiss of Peiham, Shlomoh Sherman of Scarsdale, Dave Slattery and Adam Shuty, both of Manhattan. They all have different styles and methods of delivery.

Josh Filipowski of Rye Brook
performs at TAOS Bar & Grill in Port Chester

They are looking to promote their talent in Westchester and entertain audiences, all the while doing what they enjoy. Although this team is new to Westchester, the comedians have been performing at clubs all over New York City: The New York Comedy Club, Stand-UpNY, Ha!, Caroline's,Boston Comedy Club and more.

Like many comedians, Filipowski, 24, a graduate of Blind Brook High School and the University of Wisconsin at Madison, draws his material from real life. "It's all things that have happened to me or friends ~ life experiences or just funny thoughts."

"I talk about my experiences in corporate America," said Sasha Guillaume. "It's autobiographical ~ what you know aboat yourself. Then there's observational comedy that I do. My goal is to talk about major topics important to people ~ work and money, relationships, sex. I'd rather be PG-13 because that's more market- able. I'm looking to be on prime time, not late night."

It didn't take much for Jill Twiss, who hails from North Dakota, to get laughs. Comparing life in her North Dakota hometown to that in New York City was funny in itself.

After Taos, Like 2 Laugh performed at Out of Bounds in Sleepy Hollow, and then on April 15 at the Garth Road Inn in Scarsdale. They will be back at Out of Bounds, located at 131 Beekman Ave., on Thursday, May15 starting at 10p.m. There is a $7 admission fee. After that, the comedians plan to continue touring Westchester, New York City, and eventually the world. Filipowski took a comedy workshop at the New York Comedy Club last summer, got afew spots there and performs there Mondays and Thursdays starting at 9p.m. Guillaume also can be found on the weekends at the New York Comedy Club where Friday nights are Spanish-American at 9:00 and Saturday nights are African American at 8 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. He does both. He also performs at Boston Comedy Club during the week starting at 10 p.m. and does benefit shows every othermonthat Sloan Kettering Hospital in New York City. He and Josh did a show at Manhattanville College in Purchase a few months back and he will be performing their alumni weekend in September or October.

Besides comedy, for which he receives little or no pay, Filipowski has an acting job in New Jersey where he is in Perennial Productions' "The Odd Couple," playing the role of Speed, one of the poker players. He is also a financial planner for First Investors out of Stamford.

Doing stand-up comedy grew out of Filipowski's love of acting. He said he did plays throughout high school and college and the humerology show (a comedy musical) at the University of Wisconsin.

He met Guillaume doing comedy in the City and through the grapevine found out he lived in Port Chester.

Born in Port Chester, Guillaume returned to the village in 1983. He went to Our Lady ofMercy School where he did a comedy routine in eighth grade as part of a talent show and "got the bug." Later he went to Syracuse University where he started writing com- edy. He took a class through the Caroline Comedy Club in Manhattan and learned about getting open mike time, how to formulate jokes, and stage presence. He's also read many books on the how-tos of comedy.

"The only way you learn is by doing," said Guillaume. "The class opened the doors and taught me where to go and to figure out what's funny."

"I've been doing this for two years now," he said. "I'm still at the point of paying my dues."

"Many new comedians must pay for stage time themselves," said Filipowski, often"barking," telling people about the show that night, and "bringing," getting stage time by having five or more paying friends in the audience.

"I'm not necessarily doing this to become a star," said Guillaume. "It's just something I have to do. I want to be funny. My goal isn't to become the next Jerry Seinfeld, it's not money, fame, women. I'm drawn to it."

"When I told people I was going to do it [comedy], said Guillaume, "people said: `Are you serious? You're not funny.' I'm only funny when I'm on a date with a woman."

Back in eighth grade at OLM, he was on stage with William Zaccagnino and James Mead. "Billy and I were up front telling jokes and Jimmy was in the back goofing off in a clown getup, like in the Carol Burnett Show," said Guillaume. "It was pretty successful."

Guillaume was an architect for three years but "succumbed to the economy" so is "trying to pursue the whole acting thing." He has done extra work for the TV show "Law And Order" and is starting to make his way in that area.

Sasha Guillaume of Port Chester
delivers his routine at TAOS & Grill

Copyright 2003 The Rye Brook Westmore News