Joe Piscopo's music, comedy shows at Woodstock Opera House to benefit veterans
Joe Piscopo is about to have a bit more in common with Bill Murray than SNL alum status, and members of the McHenry American Legion post can't wait.
A Saturday Night Live cast member from 1980 to 1984 who also starred in 1980s films including "Johnny Dangerously," "Dead Heat," and "Wise Guys," Piscopo will perform stand-up comedy and music in two shows May 14 at the Woodstock Opera House.
A portion of proceeds will go to American Legion Post 491 to put toward veterans' assistance programs.
"I'm so very, very honored to be invited to Woodstock for this event," Piscopo said in a recent telephone interview. "I have such an infinite respect for veterans, including my father who served in the U.S. Army Air Corps in Italy during World War II."
Piscopo now hosts a conservative radio talk show five mornings a week as well as hosting Ramsey Mazda Sundays with Sinatra on Sunday evenings, also broadcast in New York. A talented drummer whose impersonations of Frank Sinatra earned him the accolade "vice chairman of the board" from Ol' Blue Eyes himself, the fit 70-year-old also still frequently hits the road to perform.
Piscopo described his show as a retro style performance along the likes of Sinatra or Sammy Davis Jr. Show times will be 3 and 7 p.m. Saturday, May 14, with tickets ranging from $40 to $65. An additional $15 will afford ticket holders a VIP meet-and-greet. Tickets and information are available at woodstockoperahouse.com.
"My influence was Sammy and Mr. Sinatra and the great performers of that day, where they worked the stage and you could feel the energy," Piscopo said. "I really try to sustain that."
Piscopo added that he's excited about visiting Woodstock, the town 1970s SNL alum Bill Murray catapulted to fame in 1993's "Groundhog Day."
Not only will Piscopo perform in the building from which Murray famously leapt, he'll also stay at the Cherry Tree Inn, the Bed and Breakfast where Murray slept. But the scene Piscopo will play on the Woodstock Square gazebo will involve neither groundhogs nor weather predictions.
Instead, at 1 p.m. May 14, Piscopo will be inducted into the Sons of the American Legion there, said Lee Lexow, fundraising chairman for the McHenry post.
American Legion Post 491 Commander Joe Kalisek, a retired Army Major, said word of the upcoming shows and the induction ceremony already are creating a stir.
"To my knowledge, we've never done something this big," Kalisek said. "We're hoping to get a significant financial boon from this in addition to having some fun. It's going to be a great honor to meet Joe Piscopo and welcome him into membership."
Kerry Kujawa -- a McHenry native who served in the Air Force after graduating high school in 1978 and then developed a career in talent management -- used his old career connections to bring Piscopo to McHenry County for the veterans' benefit.
"I wanted to do something to give back to the wonderful community of McHenry," Kujawa said. "Our legion is really great about helping local vets."