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Meet Big Rich From Jersey, Founder of Garden State Comedy

Cynthia Cumming

Sunday, August 18, 2013 • 8:51pm

WEST ORANGE, NJ - Rich McDonald, a.k.a. "Big Rich From Jersey" is a man on a mission.  Not only is McDonald a seasoned sergeant with the West Orange Police Department, he's also an Improvisational and standup comic who recently launched GardenStateComedy.com, a website that provides information for comedy fans to get information on live comedy shows in New Jersey, and provide a place to showcase videos and articles on the best and brightest comedians in the Garden State.

McDonald began working with the WOPD in 2000, and has been a sergeant since 2005.  He is currently assigned as records bureau commander and accreditation manager. In 2009, as part of his yearly "new goals and resolutions" McDonald decided to learn how to do improvisational comedy.  He began honing his craft at The New Jersey School of Dramatic Arts in Bloomfield and has continued to enjoy performing in front of thousands of people.  With close ties to the community, McDonald also performs at fundraisers for organizations like the American Cancer Society and benefits for children with life-threatening illnesses.

As he built his confidence with Improv, McDonald decided to start his own standup comedy routine in 2010. Since then, he has performed in major New York clubs like New York Comedy Club, Greenwich Village Comedy Club, and Broadway Comedy Club. He most recently performed at the Cape May Comedy Festival, being chosen out of hundreds of comedians to compete in a national stand-up contest. He has also opened for acts like Jim Gaffigan, Uncle Floyd, Todd Barry and Rev. Bob Levy.
 
"Big Rich" prefers keep his stand-up routines clean and relatable for audiences of all ages.  His comedy focuses on life in New Jersey, being divorced and childless amid his married friends with children, and his unhealthy relationship with his best friend - his dog.  He also comments on life as a police officer.
 
In 2011, McDonald added acting to his resume, performing in several web series and local theater.  He was also cast in an independent film "Eternal Damn Nation," which was recently featured in three film festivals.
 
Looking to expand the concept of comedy, in 2012, McDonald co-founded the Dumb Kids In The Back Comedy Troupe, which combines both improv stand up comedy in a unique way. The group has been accepted into three different national improv festivals to date.
 
As if all this was not enough, McDonald launched the GardenStateComedy.com website in the spring of 2013 and has begun to produce local comedy shows at places like Egan' in West Orange, SuzyQues, and Starlite Restaurant,bringing headliners from New York to the suburbs of West Orange.

Rich McDonald and Garden State Comedy will be hosting a free event on Wednesday, Aug. 21 at Egan's at 104 Harrison Ave. in West Orange. The Stars Under the Stars outdoor comedy show begins at 8:30 p.m. and will be headlined by Mark Normand, who was most recently seen performing on Conan O’Brien on TBS and was featured as a “Fresh Face” at the world’s most famous comedy festival, the Just For Laughs Festival in Montreal.   Mark has also been seen on Comedy Central’s John Oliver stand up show and Inside Amy Schumer. He has been named by Time Out NY as one of “The lynch pins of comedy”, by Esquire as one of the Hottest Comics of 2012, and by Comedy Central as a Comic to Watch in 2011.

The other performers on the card include West Orange resident Kevin Garifo, (The Stress Factory), Joe Carney (MTV, TruTV, and ID), and Jerrold Benford (Levity Live).

For Rich McDonald, police sergeant, comedian, and actor, it's all in a day's work.  

Go to gardenstatecomedy.com  to see what the fuss is all about. You can "like"  the Garden State Comedy Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/GardenStateComedy‎.

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