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Bayville is heaven on earth for Jackie 'The Joke Man' Martling
Jackie “The Joke Man” Martling, 65, is a stand-up comedian, radio host, actor and a former writer and radio personality for “The Howard Stern Show.” Martling, a native of East Norwich and a graduate of Oyster Bay High School, has lived in Bayville since 1976. Today he hosts his own radio show, “Jackie’s Joke Hunt,” on Sirius XM Howard 101, performs live and can be seen in the new mobster film, “Send No Flowers.” But when he’s not working, he splits his time between his apartment in Manhattan and his beachfront Bayville home on the Long Island Sound.
I sat down with Martling Saturday night following one of his stand-up performances at The Brokerage comedy club in Bellmore to hear about his thoughts on living in Bayville.
Growing up in nearby East Norwich, did you spend much of your childhood in Bayville?
My father's sister lives on Monroe Avenue, which is one of the president streets right in the heart of the Bayville, and since I’m old enough to remember being alive, my father and mother went to my aunt and uncle’s to drink every weekend. My father and Uncle Clem or whoever, they’d be watching the Yankees and “Meet the Press,” and we’d be down swimming with my mother and my aunt. So I’ve been on this beach since I was old enough to remember being alive and now I live on the street the next one over.
What motivated you to move here?
In the early 1970s, my band, the Off Hour Rockers, rented a house in Bayville on the water and played our first gig at where the Shipwreck Tavern is today. I remember going to sleep listening to the sound of the waves and I said, “I’m coming back to this some day.” I just loved Bayville, so my ex-wife Nancy and I moved into a house that we rented and then, finally we bought a house on the president’s streets. I couldn’t talk about that on “The Howard Stern Show,” because Bayville is so small … people were crazy and they used to ride through the streets looking for me.
So you eventually bought another house, the one you live in today, which is right on the beach. What’s that like?
I live in heaven. Today, I woke up and swam out to the buoy and came back. Then, I rode my bike 10 miles down Centre Island, past Seawanhaka Yacht Club, Billy Joel’s house and back. And two, three, four times a day I’ll drop what I’m doing and swim. Usually when I come home late at night, I put on my bathrobe, go down and just swim in the water naked. I can’t say enough about how much I love it.
You actually have a degree in mechanical engineering from Michigan State University. Why didn’t you ever put that to use?
I just knew that had to take a difficult major and I’m pretty smart. It was so challenging and rewarding, but it was the late 60s. I didn’t go on any job interviews. I had a pony tail down the middle of my back and I was in a rock and roll band, so after I graduated in 1971 I stayed for two more years in East Lansing, Michigan, playing with my band. No one wants to leave a college town.
How did you get into comedy?
I came back to Long Island and started the Off Hour Rockers with my friend. We would travel around in a yellow hearse, playing music and telling jokes, and we were so infamous. Comedians like Eddie Murphy, Bob Nelson and Richie Minervini used to come to my gigs, because there was no place on Long Island to do stand-up. When my band broke up, Minervini and I put up a show on the second floor of the corner of 110 and 25A at a Cinnamon in Huntington and we'd bring guys out from the city. That’s how we started the East Side Comedy Club and my joke line: (516) 922-WINE. The forks in the road make a very interesting story. If you connect the dots back it all makes sense, but at the time I felt like a pinball machine.
How many jokes would you say you have in your repertoire?
I just always say almost all of them because every joke is so changeable. ‘Jackie’s Joke Hunt’ is on almost seven years and my partner thinks we've told somewhere in the neighborhood of 10,000 jokes, maybe about 3,000 unique ones. There's two rules if you're a comedian: You don’t laugh at your own jokes and you don't tell old jokes, and that's all I do.