It's 6 a.m. and the sun is starting to come up over Levittown. Despite the wee hour, laughter is leaking out of Governor's Comedy Club. There's no audience; in fact, the club is empty, but there's a foursome piled into a small studio in the back who might be starting a revolution. Welcome to Govs Radio -- the only radio station to broadcast from a comedy club.
On the mic is veteran comic/on-air personality John Mulrooney, surrounded by producer-engineer Tim Tyrrell, newswoman Rocky Kowalski and comedian Kevin Downey Jr. Together, they make up the "Mulrooney in the Morning" show, which airs weekdays 6-10 a.m. and replays all day on the popular Internet streaming radio site iheart.com, as well as govsradio.com. It's early, but no one is complaining. The mics are open and they are going live.
HOW IT BEGAN
The station was born out of frustration. Governor's co-owner Marc Lund says he couldn't get the comedians appearing at his clubs on local radio shows to plug their gigs, so he built his own radio studio and created his own station.
Lund hooked up with Mulrooney, who had done radio in Albany and New York City, to put together a morning show. After a February launch, it was picked up last month by Clear Channel's iHeartRadio, which has 30 million subscribers.
The show is a mix of comedy, interviews, news commentary and pontifications on pop culture. While "Mulrooney" can venture into PG-13 territory, there's no profanity. And this isn't shock radio.
"Funny, fun and friendly -- we go for funny, we keep it fun and we make sure it's friendly," says Mulrooney. "We don't shock or ambush people. We are entertainers first, radio people second."
A TYPICAL MORNING
On a recent weekday morning, comedian Jackie "The Joke Man" Martling is in the room -- he goes back 35 years with Mulrooney -- and the pair is talking about rolling on stage.
"You know you're killing when they're not serving drinks because the waitresses are standing idly by," says Mulrooney.
"Because they are not looking for the next drink, they are looking for the next joke!" Martling interjects.
Soon, the entire crew samples Taco Bell's new breakfast item, the Waffle Taco.
"I want to take it to Jiffy Lube for an oil change," says Mulrooney.
"It tastes better than it looks," Kowalski adds mid-bite. "I'm eating this with no shame."
"There's 700 calories in each one, by the way," says Tyrrell.
PLACE FOR COMICS
The foursome is joined each day by a different comic guest, be it someone who is in town for a gig at Governor's or a regular from the local circuit. The lack of a live audience doesn't seem to bother anyone. The banter is unscripted.
"It's kind of like seated improv," says Ronkonkoma comedian Chris Roach, who drops by once a week to sit in. "I don't try to write jokes, they just kind of happen."
Such is the essence of good comedy, anyway.
"I'm like a chef who walks into a kitchen armed with a rack of spices and a fridge full of ingredients," says Mulrooney. "I might not know exactly what I'm going to cook up, but you are going to like the meal."