Anyone who laughs too loudly at a library is likely to receive stern warnings to pipe down — unless there happens to be a library event that encourages giggles and guffaws.
As luck would have it, just such an event has become a regular occurrence at libraries from western Nassau to the East End, including its scheduled stop at the Floral Park Public Library on Dec. 11.
Laughs at the Library has booked shows at local libraries for the past 10 years, bringing clean humor to audiences of all ages. Founded by Long Island comedian Mark Brier, Laughs at the Library attracts local performers including Massapequa’s Pat Gagliardi and Hicksville’s Eddie Faicco.
Brier said the library act features clean comedy, making the free event suitable for all ages. Senior citizens have especially taken an interest in Laughs at the Library, as it provides a safe place to forget about the worries of the world.
“People don’t just come to the library as a place to get books anymore, now it’s much more of community center,” said Brier, an East Meadow resident and comedian for close to 40 years. “Look at the world today. People need to laugh. They can come down to the library and forgot about everything else for a bit.”
Brier said Laughs at the Library was not initially intended as a senior citizen event; but with most shows during the day, it just worked out that way. The comedian, who works as an accountant when he’s not on stage, said he is a throwback to the old Catskills comedians, making his material perfect for the library’s crowd.
“It’s clean comedy, we don’t curse,” he said. “You have to know how to work with the audience. Don’t just perform for the audience, perform with them.”
Laughs at the Library has numerous guest comedians, but regulars on the circuit include Faicco of Hicksville and Gagliardi of Massapequa.
Gagliardi, who has lived in Massapequa for the last 15 years, said Laughs at the Library is a tastefully done show — but it’s not loaded with corny knock-knock jokes.
“Seniors don’t like rough humor, dirty jokes. So we provide a clean, professional show that is funny,” said Gagliardi, who got into stand up comedy about six years ago as a bucket list kind of thing. “We’re no choir boys, though. We use some innuendo, but we don’t hit them with the hard stuff.”
Joining Gagliardi as a regular at the library is Faicco of Hicksville. The born and raised Long Islander got his start in the booths of local diners, making friends laugh with his storytelling.
“I rant about things that people can relate to,” said Faicco, whose manic stage presence contrasts the more subdued Gagliardi. “This is a lot different that me sitting at a diner, but the spirit is the same.”
Both local comedians said the Long Island comedy scene is extremely competitive, and Laughs at the Library offers a great place for comics to exercise their material surrounded by supportive entertainers — for an appreciative and responsive audience.
While the audience gets laughs out of the shows, the comedians get plenty out of it as well.
“More rewarding than take home pay is when a senior says they lost their spouse months ago and this is the first time they’ve laughed,” said Brier. “I’ve heard that many times over the last 10 years. What’s more rewarding than that?”
And that audience fills the various libraries hosting these comedy shows. The Floral Park Public Library hosts the next Laughs at the Library show on Thursday, Dec. 11, at 7:30 p.m. Shows follow at the East Meadow Public Library on Monday, Dec. 22 at 1 p.m. and again on Monday, Jan. 26 at 1 p.m. Check laughsatthelibrary.com for future show dates.