A slate of top-notch comics are coming together to spread laughter for a good cause in Southold this weekend.
The latest installment of Comedy Night at the Center for Advocacy, Support and Transformation is set for Saturday, Sept. 24, at 8 p.m. and will feature emcee Sheba Mason and comedy by Mick Thomas and headliner Ophira Eisenberg, the longtime host of NPR’s lively trivia show, “Ask Me Another.”
The shows are part of an ongoing arts and culture series and produced by comedians and North Fork residents Ben Wartofsky — known professionally as D.C. Benny — and Jim O’Doherty, who have been bringing comedy and laughter to the North Fork all summer through the CAST partnership.
“We’ve always talked about bringing more comedy out here,” Mr. Wartofsky said. “We wanted an element where we could help the community as well because we both just love it here.”
Since the series began, the lineups have included acts like Andrew Kennedy, Kendra Cunningham and Tony Woods, an original member of Russell Simmons’ Def Comedy Jam and P. Diddy’s Bad Boys of Comedy, who mentored Dave Chappelle and others.
“I’ve been doing this for 36 years now, so I have a pipeline to comedians I’ve worked with over the years,” Mr. Wartofsky said. “We try to bring [comics] with some kind of name recognition, but also some up-and-comers. It’s a nice blend.”
After this weekend’s show, one more is planned for Saturday, Nov. 5 that will feature Shalewa Sharpe, Gastor Almonte from Comedy Central’s “This Is Not Happening,” and Ben Bailey of “Cash Cab.”
The CAST shows are put on in the Treiber Gathering Hall, a former church — and onetime opera house — that is now used for CAST programming and performances. “Everyone jokes about it during the show,” Mr. Wartofsky said of hosting the shows in the onetime worship space. “By the end, you forget where you are and people are just laughing.”
The series thus far has been “fantastic,” Mr. Wartofsky said, adding that he’s cultivated an audience that draws locals, second homeowners and weekend trippers alike. “It’s great to see those people side by side, not beefing, just laughing,” he said.
(After all, nothing brings people together more than sharing a laugh — especially when it comes to topical North Fork humor. Bring on the pumpkin and traffic jokes!)
“Good comedy is based on truth,” Mr. Wartofsky said. “All you need is people with a sense of humor and you’re good to go. We see a real opportunity here.”
Before the pandemic, Mr. Wartofsky worked to bring a series of late-night comedy and dinner shows to Erik’s in Southold and has plans to set future productions in motion with Mr. O’Doherty as a partner. One spinoff idea is to produce a more adult comedy show — the Dirty Dogs of Comedy — to raise money for local animal shelters.
A hiatus from the CAST comedy productions is planned for the holidays, but Mr. Wartofsky hopes to resume the shows again in January. “It’ll be nice to have something to do out here when it gets dark at 4:30 in the afternoon,” he joked. He’s working to finalize headliners for those winter productions now.
In the meantime, tickets are available for the next two installments of comedy night at CAST, which begin with an opening reception with beer, wine and small bites at 7 p.m. and an 8 p.m. show.
For tickets and more information, visit comedynight5.givesmart.com.