On May 9, stand-up comedian Joe Matarese is returning home.
Matarese will perform at Cherry Hill Township’s inaugural Comedy Night on Saturday, May 9 at Croft Farm. The show will begin at 7 p.m. with opening act Paul Spratt. Matarese will take the stage shortly after.
Matarese grew up in Cherry Hill and graduated from Cherry Hill East in 1985. While he hasn’t lived in Cherry Hill since 1995, he still has a lot of family living in town.
Matarese said he wasn’t much of a comic as a Cherry Hill East student. He describes himself as shy and quiet in school and thinks many of his former classmates would be surprised to see him doing comedy. However, he added he hopes to see some of his old peers at the May 9 show.
“Hopefully, some of my high school alumni and even those who graduated in other classes will come out,” he said.
Matarese jumped into stand-up comedy at the age of 19. For a number of years, his performances involved being observational about everyday issues and topics. He described his style as similar to Jerry Seinfeld, saying it was a style most comedians were using at the time.
“I was doing what I thought you were supposed to do,” Matarese said. “I thought you had to do what everyone else was doing, and I found out you had to be your own artist.”
A number of years later, he met a fellow stand-up comic named Juston McKinney, whom Matarese credits with helping him find his style.
“He just moved to New York,” Matarese said. “He was coming from Maine and he quit being a police officer to become a comedian. He had a lot of material about being a dad and being a cop. He started getting all of this attention as soon as he got to New York.”
Matarese used a similar approach, talking about his life experiences and molding them into a comedy show. Immediately, he began getting more attention, and the number of shows and career opportunities began to multiply.
In the last decade, Matarese has appeared on television and radio shows such as “Chelsea Lately,” “The Late Show with David Letterman,” The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson,” “The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn,” his own half-hour “Comedy Central Presents” special and “The Howard Stern Show.” He also has a weekly podcast called “Fixing Joe” and is a regular guest on fellow comedian Artie Lange’s podcast. This is on top of the many stand-up shows he performs in the New York and Philadelphia areas.
Lately, Matarese’s shows focus on his family. In 2005, he married his wife, Stephanie Cosentino. The couple has two children, 7-year-old Luke and 3-year-old Willa.
“It’s very overwhelming when you have your first kid,” Matarese said. “My therapy is always to talk about it on stage with strangers.”
The Matarese family was the subject of one of the biggest highlights of Matarese’s career. In 2014, he appeared on the ninth season of the television show “America’s Got Talent” and performed his act in front of judges Howard Stern, Heidi Klum, Melanie Brown and Howie Mandel. Matarese got a standing ovation following the act and advanced to the second round.
What made the moment special was Matarese’s wife and kids were present at the show. It was the first time Matarese’s kids had ever seen him perform.
“When Howard Stern said amazing things, you can tell I seriously almost cried,” Matarese said. “It was emotional. My kids were in my arms when I was on stage. It was seriously my best career moment.”
Matarese said he rarely gets to come back to Cherry Hill and perform because of the lack of venues in the area. That makes the May 9 performance at Croft Farm extra special.
“There aren’t many places to perform near Cherry Hill,” he said. “I would love for them to happen more in South Jersey.”
Tickets for Comedy Night are $25 in advance and $30 at the door. The ticket price includes light food from Kaminski’s, including sliders, chicken kabobs, bruschetta, grilled veggies and penne vodka and two alcoholic drinks.
To purchase tickets, visit room 102 of the Cherry Hill Municipal Building or contact the township’s department of recreation at (856) 488–7868 or email Events@CHTownship.com.