The comedy show to benefit the O’Grady family of Throggs Neck is finally here.
After months of preparation, friends of the late Joe O’Grady are set to hold a night of standup comedy in his honor on Friday, April 29 at Stepinac High School in White Plains.
O’Grady passed away in July 2010 from Synovial Sarcoma at age 39, a rare form of cancer. Stand up comedy was one of his hobbies, so when looking for the best way to raise money for his widow and three children’s education, the method was obvious.
Saturday Night Live alum Colin Quinn will headline the event. He was friendly with the O’Gradys through fellow Throggs Neck native, the late comedian Mike DeStefano, who was originally scheduled as the headliner but passed away in March.
“When Colin Quinn got word that we were having a comedy show he said ‘whatever I can do, free of charge,’” said Matt O’Brien, longtime friend of the O’Gradys.
O’Brien lead a handful of Throggs Neck residents in putting together the event, from which all proceeds will go to a trust for the three O’Grady kids.
He says about 400 tickets at $100 each have been sold so far, and he is expecting about 500 people when the first comedian takes the stage.
The time and effort involved in organizing the show has been totally worth it, says O’Brien, who is a New York City Firefighter.
“I wouldn’t consider it work,” he said. “I’ve spent a substantial amount of time but it’s one of those labor of love things. The neighborhood felt like it wanted to do something for him, we figured we was a funny man and how appropriate it would be to have a comedy night.”
All of the O’Grady’s friends talk about how reluctant Joe and his widow Shannon have always been to accept any kind of donation. Neither felt comfortable taking handouts, but with over 400 tickets sold, almost all to people who know the family, shows how many want to help the cause.
“It’s a large contingency of Throggs Neck people,” O’Brien said. “I got about 20 friends to reach out to their own circles that we wouldn’t normally touch. It just kept expanding and expanding.”
Laurie Galioto first met Joe O’Grady when they were in their 20s, playing softball in the early 1990s. He’s been helping O’Brien organize the event.
“This is community effort,” Galioto said. “Everybody in Throggs Neck works together, and many hands make light work. We’re all selling tickets. We’re all spreading the word. Whatever needs to be done.”