A big plan to bring laughs to Cape May

Jacquelyn Tozzi, of Upper Township, and Dan Sinclair, of Ventnor, organized the first annual Cape May Comedy Festival to be held Friday through July 28.

Most people could produce a comedy show for one night with a few comics if they really wanted to.

But, it takes at least a team of two to put on one of the biggest comedy weekends in the history of southern New Jersey.

Dan Sinclair and Jacqueline Tozzi are doing just that, bringing in about 150 comedians spread out over multiple venues.

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Sinclair, of Ventnor, has been booking comedy acts since 1998 and organized shows with actor and comic Kevin Hart that brought him to the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey in Pomona and the former Sweet Cheeks Night Club in Atlantic City.

Tozzi, who specializes in business and marketing, attended one of Sinclair's events on her 30th birthday two years ago in Wildwood.

They started working together and came up with the idea of the first annual Cape May Comedy Festival, which will be held Friday through July 28. They have 96 comics battling in a stand-up comedy competition along with another 50 professional/touring comics performing during the weekend. Their original plans were even grander.

"We pared back a lot. We started with a weeklong, and we brought it down to the weekend. We wanted to be a little conservative the first year," Tozzi said.

The pair started working on their weekendlong festival in November. They have lined up comedians from California, Florida, Texas, Connecticut, North Carolina and New York.

"We went to open mics everywhere from New York to Washington, D.C, from February to April," said Tozzi. On one night, the pair attended a total of 15 open mic events.

The winner among the 96 competing comics will receive the first-place prize of opening for Gilbert Gottfried during Saturday's main stage show, $5,000, a website, headshots, video of the performance, an article on badslava.com, an improv workshop with The PIT in New York City and guaranteed bookings with participating clubs, including the Laff House in Philadelphia, The Looney Bin in Staten Island, N.Y. and The Comedy Stop in Atlantic City.

Comedy Stop owner Bob Kephart decided to help Sinclair and Tozzi with their comedy festival.

"It's supporting comedy. It's not like they have a comedy club down there that is competing with me. It's a one-time shot," said Kephart, who will be a judge on one of the comedy contest nights. "If they are successful, then, it will certainly cue up interest for comedy. It's all good."

Sinclair and Tozzi, Ocean City High School graduates in 1992 and 1999, respectively, said one reason they brought the festival to Cape May was the new $10.5 million, $20,000-square-foot convention hall, which opened last spring.

"When we met with Cape May, it just seemed like a good fit because the people there, like Michael Chait (assistant director of marketing,) were really on board with the whole idea. All the people we talked to in Cape May were really excited about bringing it there," said Tozzi, of Upper Township.

Contact Vincent Jackson:


Cape May Comedy Festival

Held Friday to July 28 at various venues throughout the city. The main stage at Cape May Convention Hall features Gilbert Gottfried, Joe Conklin and Big Daddy Graham. For more information about the festival, tickets and a complete schedule of events, visit cmcfest.com or capemay

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