Comedian Matarese makes move to help Holy Cross chess team

Comedian Joe Matarese will perform a sold-out show tonight at the Knights of Columbus Council Hall to benefit the Holy Cross Elementary School chess team. The show is part of his Outside the Box Tour, where fans invite him to their town and produce the show for him. His website contains everything one needs to make that happen. (Submitted photo)

Comedian Joe Matarese will perform a sold-out show tonight at the Knights of Columbus Council Hall to benefit the Holy Cross Elementary School chess team. The show is part of his Outside the Box Tour, where fans invite him to their town and produce the show for him. His website contains everything one needs to make that happen. (Submitted photo)

CAMDEN — In a classic case of the mountain coming to Mohammed, comedian Joe Matarese is playing a sold-out show Friday night at the Knights of Columbus Council Hall to benefit the Holy Cross Elementary School chess team.

Audience members can thank Dover lawyer and Holy Cross chess coach Ron Poliquin for that.

A fan of Mr. Matarese’s podcast “Fixing Joe,” (now called “Fixed Joe”) Mr. Poliquin heard Mr. Matarese discuss his concept of having fans produce shows for him in different towns, calling it The Outside the Box Tour.

Friday’s show will be the first in what Mr. Matarese hopes will be a long-running series.

“I get fans always emailing me and asking when are you going to be in their city. As a comedian, you just can’t call your agent and say ‘I want to play Cincinnati. Make it happen,’” Mr. Matarese said Tuesday afternoon by phone from his home near New York City.

“Some are easier than others and some are impossible to get to.”

The concept came to him a few years back when a woman in Boston emailed him after seeing his Comedy Central special, saying she was going to celebrate her birthday by coming to a show of his that was scheduled near her.

“I looked on the calendar and realized the gig had been canceled. The club had closed down. I emailed her back and told her it was canceled and asked if she was going to still have her birthday. She said ‘yes’ of course and then my entrepreneurial side kicked in,” Mr. Materese said.

She lived above a hotel and he explained how to set up her apartment like a comedy club and he did the show right there.

Now, Mr. Matarese has his on his website, joematarese.com, everything one needs to bring his act to their town and maybe even their residence, right down to the software to print out tickets.

He has a second show, which is sold out as well, set for June in Essington, Pennsylvania.

Married to a psychologist and the father of two kids, the Cherry Hill, New Jersey, native, who has appeared on “The Late Show with David Letterman,” “Chelsea Lately” and as a contest on “America’s Got Talent,” discusses his family freely in his act. He also talks frankly about his own issues with Attention Deficit Disorder and his use of medications to combat that issue.

All of those things struck a chord with Mr. Poliquin.

During a dark period in his life, he found himself doing a lot of odd jobs and driving around quite a bit, listening to podcasts. He quickly became a fan of “Fixing Joe.”

“On each episode, Joe would seek advice from guests and his listeners on problems he had in his life. Those problems usually involved balancing being a dad and husband, while also trying to take his career to the next level. I especially related to Joe’s issues with ADHD and anxiety, combined with his family and career challenges,” Mr. Poliquin said.

“Joe’s podcast was almost half comedy/half support group for me. Over time, I became a regular caller into the show and eventually Joe and I became friends.

“I thought a show with him would be a unique and fun way to raise money. Parents and married couples will instantly relate to the topics in Joe’s act.”

Mr. Poliquin has proved to be right, succeeding in packing the place for the Delaware show.

“I like to think I’m a good judge of people and I didn’t have a doubt in my mind that Ron would be able to pull this off. I was joking with him that he ought to become my publicist,” Mr. Matarese said.

Friday night’s audience can expect to hear about Mr. Matarese’s family life and some of his troubles along the way.

“I’d say I do some edgy material. But I’m just being honest. If it’s true and honest and still witty, I can make it work,” he said.

“I would describe myself as a cross between Ray Romano and (the more adult-oriented) Bill Burr,” he said.

Funds raised will go toward the Holy Cross chess team, for which Mr. Poliquin’s son and daughter compete. The Crusaders have become the best elementary school in the state, playing in regional tournaments as far away as Philadelphia, Maryland and New Jersey.

The team’s goal is to go to the Supernationals Chess Tournament next year in Memphis, Tennessee, and the hope is Mr. Matarese’s appearance will help advance that cause.

Meanwhile, Mr. Matarese’s goal is having his own television show. He’s had some deals that have fallen through but remains optimistic.

“I literally think about it every day of my life. If I got a chance to act and be funny, that would be the ultimate,” he said.

“I look at a guy like Louis CK who does a show where he isn’t necessarily hilarious all of the time. I get very jealous of that.”

Reach features editor Craig Horleman at chorl@newszap.com

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