Go Deeper

Twelve Years of Jersey Politics Later: Interview with Joey Novick

Posted August 20th, 2014

joeynovickMeet Joey Novick, the Political Comedian. For this year’s Neighborhood Fringe Festival show, Comedian Elected to Town Council in New Jersey, Joey has decided to tell stories of his twelve years as councilman of Flemington, New Jersey. To learn more about Joey Novick and his comedic journey through politics, read on.

FringeArts: What was your inspiration for the show?

Joey Novick: In 1994, I was elected to the Borough Council in Flemington, New Jersey. At that time I was doing standup comedy with observational material—standard characters and such. So there are two sides of me—the political side and the comedic side. But I decided to do the show after discovering the area of storytelling. The Moth, The Liar Show, Stories from the Back Room, all storytelling nights that I began to do on a regular basis. The stories I was telling were all my political life as an elected councilman. Eventually, I discovered I had enough stories for a full hour and a half show.

FringeArts: What have you gained from performing?

Joey Novick: Money, notoriety, fame. Just kidding.

Actually I much enjoy performing my one-person show. It gives me an opportunity to share my values that I use every day as an elected person in Flemington. It is my understanding that one of the best ways to communicate to people is using real stories laced with a bit of humor. It’s a great way to get things done. Each year I conduct a panel for the New Jersey State League of Municipalities talking about how humor benefits people who govern. No matter what party you are in, you can communicate effectively using a bit of self-reflective humor. Kennedy, Clinton, Reagan all used humor to their benefit. Presidents like Nixon and Ford did not. George Will said, “On a throne at the center of the sense of humor sits the capacity for irony, all which rests on a cheerful awareness of life’s incongruities.” It is a genuine awareness, and no politician without it should be allowed near power.

FringeArts: Who are your role models and why?

Joey Novick: In comedy my role models are Abbott and Costello, George Carlin, Del Close (my improv teacher), Lenny Bruce, Bill Cosby, and too many others to name. All strong performers with a strong voice in the world of performing for their audiences.

In politics my role models are Pete Seeger, Thomas Jefferson, Saul Alinsky, Ralph Nader, the ACLU, Cesar Chavez, and anyone who’s ever organized people they did not know for a cause they believed in. No movement forward ever occurs without a good organizer and passionate storyteller—someone with a keen intelligence and good critical thinking skills.

Finally, the best storyteller I’ve ever seen—my dad, Bernie Novick. He taught me how to tell stories to connect with people with great wisdom, passion, sense of home, and courage. I use those skills every day in performing.

Thank you, Joey.

Get your tickets here!

Comedian Elected to Town Council in New Jersey
Comedy Cabaret
11580 Roosevelt Blvd
September 20 at 8pm

—Devan Sims