15 Minutes: Funny Business
Cherry Hill native and standup comic Joe Matarese
When Joe Matarese (pictured) began tinkering with comedy, he wasn’t very good. And the other comedians in the local scene—now-big names like Adam McKay and Paul F. Tomkins—let him know it. “I didn’t have a creative bone in my body,” Matarese says. “You could feel the negativity from the Philly guys to the Jersey guy, and I had to get more creative.” The extra push paid off: the comic has performed on The Late Show, The Late Late Show, Howard Stern and at comedy clubs across the country. But the West Chester County, N.Y., resident—who lives with his wife, Stephanie, and son, Luke—still faces a tough crowd back home in Cherry Hill. “My grandmom still says, ‘Why don’t you learn a trade?’” Matarese admits. “I’ve been doing comedy for 23 years. I visited her two weeks after I did Letterman, and she said, ‘Are you still doing standup?’”
Where I got my start: “Comedy Works and Comedy Factory Outlet in Philly…. They had an open mic, and I went every week for about two and a half years.”
Best gig ever: “I got to do a half-hour special on Comedy Central, and so things kind of came full circle. When I started, I was a comedy nerd and I used to tape all these guys on TV. When I got to do my special, I was like, ‘Wow, I wonder if there’s young kids out there like I was when I was young, watching it and taping it.’”
First indication of star potential: “My parents always say they should have known I would end up being a comedian, because they have home movies, 8mm film with no sound, and I’m putting on shows. I used to imitate Tom Jones with the sweeper cord.”
Approach to comedy: “To be as honest as possible. I tend to do a lot of jokes that sometimes could get me in trouble. I think the South Jersey attitude is funny: my wife says, ‘You’re negative—you whine and complain a lot.’ But comedy is a series of complaints. For example, I’ll just go up and start talking about hating the house I live in, in the suburbs. They don’t start as jokes, they just start as me complaining that my neighbor has an indoor couch on the front porch and a weight bench next to that. I told my wife I was going to knock on his door and ask how much for a membership—and say, ‘Sir I would love to join your porch.’”
Biggest risk I ever took: “I have a CD called When a Comedian Attacks that’s 11 different tracks of arguments with hecklers. I was so afraid it would make me look like I always get heckled, and then theaters and clubs wouldn’t hire me.”
The key to my success is: “Getting married and having a kid, and a second kid on the way. There’s something about having no choice that can make you work hard.”
Proudest achievement: “I started a podcast called Fixing Joe, where I talk honestly about my problems, and I ask my fans and celebrity guests for advice. I had [Howard Stern sidekick] Artie Lange on as a guest. It was his first really public interview since he tried to commit suicide, so we talked a little about that. My objective is, by me being honest about my problems, to help other people too—and I got a lot of e-mails after that episode from people who said, ‘I had thought of killing myself and that really shined a light on it, and I found it therapeutic.’”
Failed career: “Before I was a comedian I used to deejay weddings. I would try to be funny on the mic, and it would get me in trouble.”
four: Number of New Jersey residents hospitalized post-Irene for sampling the wild (and poisonous) mushrooms raised by the storm.
$6,500: Price a senior citizen paid for two hours of pumping his flooded basement during Hurricane Irene. State law prohibits price increases greater than 10 percent during emergencies.
$1,500: Fine the owner of a Cherry Hill Lukoil could face on price-gouging allegations, if convicted.
12 years: The lifespan of Medford’s “bean bus,” the yellow No. 74 schoolbus that was the first in the nation to run on biodesel. The bus, estimated to save the school district about $8,000 a year in fuel costs, was retired this year.
60.2%: Area residents’ relative likeliness to have a car accident, compared to the national average. Allstate ranked Philly area drivers as the sixth-worst in America.
Ba1: The new “junk” credit rating that Moody’s gave to Collingswood Borough, a six-degree downgrade that the ratings agency based partly on Collingswood’s obligations as guarantor of a developer’s $8.5 million loan. Mayor Jim Maley contested the downgrade, which he attributes to “inaccurate and misleading information.”
11 p.m. : Newly imposed curfew on Camden businesses, in an effort to curb crime and drug traffic.
Sport: Run Wild
So maybe historic re-enactment isn’t exactly your thing—but that doesn’t mean you can’t be a part of local history. Skip the waistcoat and lace up your running shoes instead for the 42nd annual Jonas Cattell Memorial Run, a 10-mile jog from Haddonfield to Red Bank Battlefield. The race follows the route a?Revolutionary War hero took by foot to warn patriot soldiers at Fort Mercer of a planned British attack. Tricorn hat optional. Registration is $10, or $15 on the day of the race. (856) 251-6710, or (856) 853-5120 on race day.
Eats: Scrapple With Soul
Calling all locavores: the same diligence you apply to farmers’ market-fresh fruits and veggies can now go for your meats and eggs, too. Tabernacle’s 7th Heaven Farm offers an alternative to factory-farm fare: grass-fed and antibiotic- and hormone-free beef, all-natural pork, poultry and eggs, and cruelty-free items like “rosé veal,” made from calves that are pastured, not penned and force-fed.
Street Level: Dispatches from our backyard
Collingswood: Police traced doughnuts and other baked goods bobbing in the Newton Lake back to a Dunkin’ Donuts employee, who claimed he merely wanted to feed the geese.
Mount Laurel: A man used Facebook to search for the owners of a found camera card loaded with wedding photos, eventually returning it to newlyweds in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Tavistock: A resident complained the Census was two people short when it pegged the borough’s population at five.
Marlton: The Evesham P.D. issued what could be termed “Copps”—70-plus trading cards for police officers, plus a few canine staffers.
Glassboro: A Rowan professor went viral with an online video ridiculing journalism students who wanted internships to “work around their schedules at Pizza Hut.”
Lindenwold: A man used a sledgehammer to attack and destroy a police robot during an armed standoff.
Dr. Judith Weinstein was working as a diagnostic radiologist in 1996, when the result of severe cumulative nerve damage left her disabled, robbing her of the use of her hands.
She found hope through an unlikely source: beading.
“Crafts saved me in a manner of speaking, after I had lost everything,” she says. “I really saw the emotionally therapeutic aspect of getting back to your creative side.” And so, Weinstein became “The Bead Doctor.”
Now, the owner of Collingswood’s Jubili Beads & Yarns runs a nonprofit, Jubilation Creations, designed to allow individuals with a range of developmental disabilities to find hope through informal art therapy sessions, conducted in the store’s workshop. Children, teens and adults with cerebral palsy, autism, Down syndrome, seizure disorders and a variety of other conditions attend arts and crafts classes, while children and teens can also join music and yoga classes coordinated by Weinstein.
“It’s like art therapy, without the requirement for a physician prescription, and there’s no six-week limit, [which is often the case],” she says. (Plus, parents looking for a respite can take their own craft classes while they wait.)
The program welcomed its first attendee in December 2008 and incorporated as a nonprofit last October. It’s growing through referrals from various social service organizations across the region, and Weinstein hopes to eventually add a licensed art therapist and occupational therapist to the staff.
In the meantime, she says, the $25 classes are far more affordable than typical art therapy sessions, and there’s no limit on who can join—only, they must be functional enough to follow instructions. Already, the impact has been impressive.
“There’s one woman that comes to us from a group home, and the director of the home has said there is a very noticeable difference in her animation and her state of happiness and in her conversation. She’s much more verbal and social than she was before she came to our classes,” she says. Another client “has had a very noticeable increase his eye-hand coordination and motor skills and his ability to respond to our directions,” Weinstein says. “I was astonished when I saw the progress that he had made in one year.”
713 Haddon Ave., Collingswood, (856) 858-7844, JubilationCreations.org
How To … Defend yourself in a digital world
Secure your computer: The most common problems, says Yaeger, stem from the fact that “people don’t keep their computers up to date with security patches. They either don’t have an antivirus solution or they don’t keep it up to date. Also, a lot of times, I’ll notice that Windows firewall is not enabled,” she says. It’s vital to update your operating system, Web browsers and programs like Adobe Reader, since viruses often attack through such applications.
Antivirus programs like Norton or McAfee can scan your computer to rout out any spyware or malware already lurking in your hard drive. And the firewall, when enabled, offers improved security from prying hackers.
Protect your passwords: Online passwords have become an enormous security risk, Yaeger says, so it’s important to choose them wisely and change them regularly. “Make sure they’re complex, containing capital letters, numbers and symbols. Stay away from using anything that is common to you, like your birthday, your child’s name or your anniversary. Keep it far away from what somebody would guess would be yours,” she urges. Then, she says, change your password frequently, as often as every six months. And finally, “Never write them down. Never keep them stored in a file on your computer.” Yaeger also discourages clients from using automatic log-in options. She says having a password list written on paper is marginally safer than keeping it on your computer—just don’t leave it on a PostIt on your monitor!
Exercise caution: If you receive an e-mail requesting your password to a site, don’t type it in. Type the site’s URL into your browser, rather than following suspect links. Similarly, beware of downloading unexpected attachments, especially those with unfamiliar file extensions, such as .exe. And watch out for these signs you may have a virus: “The computer starts to lose speed or lock up. When searching the Internet you may be redirected to another site. You might receive a lot of pop-up windows. Those are early signs of an infection.”
Damage control: Never e-mail vital information like credit card or Social Security numbers, Yaeger urges. And even if you don’t, she says, it’s important to pull your credit report once a year. If you suspect any data breaches may have occured, “talk to your bank or your credit card company, so that they can montior for any irregular activity.”
Home Grown: Play Clothes
When Haddon Heights resident Nicola O’Connell and her U.K.-dwelling sister wanted to launch a company together, each brought something different to the table. For O’Connell, it was 15 years in fashion design, including several at Urban Outfitters, Inc., the Philly-based parent of Anthropologie and Free People. For her sister, it was business acumen and two real-life market research subjects, in the form of her two children.
So, they settled on children’s wear, and the result is Girl and a Mouse, an increasingly popular line of whimsical dresses and fun separates for girls ages 1 to 5.
“You can do a lot of cute things with kids’ stuff that you can’t with adults, so that inspired me to go into children’s wear,”?O’Connell muses. “It’s fun and whimsical and fashionable. I feel like there are not that many brand for kids that are really cool.”
O’Connell spent six years in Los Angeles and brought back a distinctive California vintage aesthetic, in the form of full-skirted Tiffany-blue dresses with lots of ruffles, tunics with patchwork frills and embellishments, chic peasant tops and leggings with lacey pockets.
O’Connell hopes the line will be fun and unique but, most of all, reflect the way kids dress themselves. “If you left a child in a room with a bunch of clothes, they would put a dress, a hoodie, leggings and a shirt all on—and I think that’s how children look cutest. So my collection is very much about layering and whimsy,” she says. “There’s clothing in there that you dream about wearing and having as a child.”
Spring 2012 will be Girl and a Mouse’s third season, and it’s already in about 50 boutiques across the country, including Pipsqueak in Haddonfield.
Good: Fierce Friends
Sewell and Cherry Hill salon owner Martino Cartier has always had a penchant for charitable projects: holding cut-a-thons for a Williamstown family that lost its father in the 9/11 terror attacks, for local people affected by cancer, and for just about anyone in need.
Now, the charismatic stylist—who has been seen on Bravo’s Tabatha’s Salon Takeover, The View and HSN, and is rumored to have his own reality show in the works—is making his charity official. This month marks the launch of Maryanne and Friends, named for Cartier’s friend, Maryanne McCormick, who was diagnosed with breast cancer. He says he has already recruited 1,000 salons—fellow members of the Intercoiffure organization of hairdressers—to give free services to women undergoing chemotherapy.
“Women cannot go get a nice wig for a decent price anywhere,” laments Cartier, which is why he’s giving wigs away to those who have exhausted other avenues. “I wanted to do something to lay out the red carpet for women going through chemo.
Thousands of women every day, their lives are being changed already,” he says.
Paul Mitchell and Procter & Gamble have already donated thousands of dollars to the cause, which will also send four women with cancer and their families to Disney World each year. On Oct. 16, Cartier will hold a super-size launch event at the Waldorf Astoria in Manhattan, with a performance from local singer Liv Devine. Visit MaryanneAndFriends.com for more on the nonprofit, or MartinoCartier.com for upcoming cut-a-thons and ways to contribute.
Names to Know
Local people making a difference in South Jersey and beyond
Seneca High School 2011 graduate and star pitcher Kevin Comer just signed with the Toronto Blue Jays. The 19-year-old Tabernacle native joins the MLB organization with a $1.65 million signing bonus, with provisions for his college education.
Air Force Master Sgt. Ray Sambor is a reservist from the 35th APS out of Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, has served for 23 years and also works as a federal detective for the Department of Veterans Affairs. He recently returned from a deployment to Kandahar, Afghanistan, (his fourth tour of duty), to surprise his children in their classrooms at Bells Elementary School and Chestnut Ridge Middle School in Washington Township.
Robert H. Goldschmidt is the new superintendent of schools for the Washington Township School District. Goldschmidt, an 18-year resident of Washington Township, holds state certification as a school principal and administrator, and is currently a mentor in New Jersey’s Principal Residency Program. He will assume his new position in November.
Mount Laurel resident Keri Mikulski’s latest book Stealing Bases, part of her sporty young adult series, Pretty Tough, published by Razorbill/Penguin, is getting rave reviews. The series features spunky, athletic characters and received a nod from ESPN Rise Magazine this month. Her next book, a surfing story entitled Making Waves, is due out this spring.
A counseling hotline for veterans will have permanent state funding thanks to a new law sponsored by New Jersey?Sen. Fred Madden. The Turnersville resident introduced legislation, signed into law by Gov. Chris Christie last month, to permanently fund Vet-2-Vet, a toll-free help line created to assist veterans dealing with psychological or emotional distress and other issues accompanying return to civilian life. The program has assisted 6,000 callers to date.
Karen Talbot-LaSasso’s efforts to save 130 animals from a Summerville, Ga., high-kill-rate shelter—including several 27-hour car trips to the shelter and back—have not gone unnoticed. The South Jersey founder of M.O.M.S. Animal Rescue group will be featured in the documentary Take Me Home by filmmaker David Von Roehm.
Albert Young, a former Moorestown High School football player and now third-year NFL running back, has signed a contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Young, who set county and state records while playing with the Quakers, spent the last three years with the Minnesota Vikings.
Cassandra Grossmann has a voice you’ve got to hear. The Moorestown resident will appear on the new NBC show The Sing-Off, as part of the 15-member choir group The Deltones. The group is one of 16 competing for the top prize: a recording contract with Sony Music and $200,000.
Do you know a local person who is doing great things and should be on our radar? Let us know by e-mailing Allie@SouthJersey.com.
Published (and copyrighted) in South Jersey Magazine, Volume 8, Issue 7 (October, 2011).
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