The hardest art form

Pat Tomasulo headlines “A Night of Comedy” at The Acorn Theater on Friday night.

THREE OAKS — Making people laugh is no easy task.

“Comedy is the hardest art form there is,” Pat Tomasulo said during a recent phone interview. “When you start putting together new jokes or a new premise, you have no idea if it’s going to be funny until you get up on stage.”

Tomasulo, a Chicago-based comedian, will take the stage Friday night at The Acorn in Three Oaks as the headlining act for “A Night of Comedy.”

He will be joined by comedians Esther Ikoro and Marty DeRosa, who agree there’s nothing quite as difficult as comedy.

“It is great when you can execute your set, but getting up on stage in front of people always has its challenges,” Ikoro said. “At the core, I love all of it.” 

Besides being a stand-up comic, Tomasulo is the sports anchor and host of the WGN Morning News in Chicago, as well as the creator and host of his late night show, “Man Of The People.”

He was also a co-hosts for ABC’s reality show “Shaq Vs.” and the creator/host of “Laugh Your Face Off,” a comedy fundraiser that has raised more than $1.7 million for the Facial Pain Research Foundation since 2015.

“I don’t know if I was funny when I started,” he said. “But I wanted to be funny. I would do comedic stuff on TV and established myself. Then 10 years ago, I started doing stand-up. It was a pretty natural transition, because I had established a point of view and stage presence, and then I just had to focus on honing that onstage performance.”

Tomasulo said his style is a mix of observational and anecdotal humor, some about his personal life, and the world as it is now.

“I like to try to touch on topics that are relatable to a lot of people,” he said.

For example, he said, he likes to talk about himself and his wife.

“We have a kind of traditional, yet nontraditional, marriage,” Tomasulo said. “We’re both 40, no kids, both very sarcastic and both have a brutally honest, sarcastic, cynical view of the world.”

He said the thing he enjoys about stand-up more than TV is the immediate feedback.

“What’s cool about stand-up is that you know immediately if the joke works or not,” Tomasulo said. “You can work on a bit all week, using it on different audiences, and between Monday and Friday it becomes a whole new joke and you’ve built an hour show, and are hitting every joke and every punch line. There’s no feeling like that in the world.”

He said he’s not going to get everyone to laugh, but he hopes to get an overwhelming percentage of each audience chuckling.

For Ikoro, a good comic can talk with any audience.

“I love telling stories. I think they’re universal. That always makes for a good time,” she said. “I try to make a genuine connection with an audience that might not otherwise related to me.”

Ikoro, who spends time all over the Midwest working in the creative field, has used her comedy as an extension of her job.

“I just talk about everyday life and funny things that happen throughout life,” she said.

DeRosa is the same way.

“I talk about myself, very much self-biographical comedy, not so much about what’s in the news,” he said. “I’m very much an open book.”

One of those personal topics he talks about in detail is mental illness.

“I try to put that in a fun aspect,” he said.

DeRosa is a writer at The Second City in Chicago and also the host of a podcast called “Wrestling With Depression,” in which he interviews fellow comedians, wrestlers and performers, reconciling the creative process with the daily struggle of depression.

For him, the show is the most fun part of doing stand-up comedy.

“But trying out the newer material,” he said, “that’s probably the best part.” 

Contact: anewman@TheHP.com, 932-0357, Twitter: @HPANewman