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INTERVIEW: Bernie Furshpan, NY Hysterical Society Executive Director, Joins Forces With Southampton Cultural Center To Launch Zoom Comedy Classes

T.J. Clemente

Bernie Furshpan, NY Hysterical Society Executive Director, has partnered with Southampton Cultural Center to present Summer Zoom Comedy Classes for Kids. (Courtesy Photo)

This July, Southampton Cultural Center (SCC) is launching Zoom Comedy Classes. Bernie Furshpan, Executive Director of the NY Hysterical Society, a company of NYC-based comics, and the Southampton Cultural Center have formed a partnership "to get kids off the sandy beaches and lawns, for at least a few hours a week during the summer months."

Furshpan believes, "Humor has many mental health benefits and helps kids cope with adversities and stress...It's been said and studied, that kids are put under a ton of pressure during the school year, both academically and socially, and what better way to let that steam out than to punch up their own personal comedy routines and sense of humor. Laughter has been around since the dawn of time and a good sense of humor, and learning appropriateness, timing, and delivery is crucial for responses and relief kids are seeking."

In a conversation with the forward thinking Furshpan, he explained that these virtual comedy classes for kids on Zoom are designed for ages 10-16. The series will touch upon skills that will sharpen participants' wit, writing skills, build character and confidence, and learn public speaking skills in a fun way.

Furshpan is an early riser. He said, "I start at 6:00 a.m. answering the emails. I am addicted to answering emails right away." Furshpan explained the genesis of his expertise coming together with the SCC by saying, "It goes back a long way...I owned and operated Metropolitan Room. It was a Jazz Cabaret Club in NYC; it was the original Gotham Comedy Club. So I have background in the comedy industry. I booked hundreds of shows that I performed in myself as an opening act. I loved getting up and telling stories and doing my routine." He added, "I also had the opportunity to go around the nation to produce these shows for non-profit organizations, corporate events, etc. Then with my own comedy club, I basically produced 6,000 shows in total at the Metropolitan Room." The Metropolitan Room was located in the Flatiron district of NYC.

He closed the Metropolitan Room last year due to new lease issues.

"Having a comedy skill set will help kids later in life, in interviews and making presentations," he relayed. "After this class, they will have more confidence. They will know formulas for composing jokes and the way to deliver punchlines. Now, due to the pandemic, they will also have confidence and a skill set for using Zoom."

Furshpan concluded the interview by saying, "In the end, I want all the kids to have an opportunity to perform live, perhaps outside the SCC or maybe in a nearby park with safe spacing and safe procedures." He hopes the program can end with a real-stage performance in conjunction with other performing artists outside the Southampton Cultural Center because, as he said, it's different in front of people live. He anticipates doing this at the end of the summer program. Dates and times will be announced at a later date.

The Summer Zoom Comedy Classes for Kids will begin on Saturday, July 11.

For more information about Summer Zoom Comedy Classes for Kids, visit metropolitanzoom.com.

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