Pete Dominick's laughs hit close to home

Pete Dominick, a stand-up comedian and SiriusXM radio

Pete Dominick, a stand-up comedian and SiriusXM radio host, on stage at Levity Live in West Nyack. (April 25, 2012) (Credit: Nancy Siesel)

When he moved from Manhattan to Rockland County to raise a family, comedian Pete Dominick thought he would have to abandon performing stand-up close to home. But thanks to Levity Live, a new comedy club located on the fourth floor of the Palisades Center in West Nyack, one of his favorite stand-up venues is now just a 10-minute drive from his house in Congers.

"But it actually takes two hours to get in because of the parking situation," jokes Dominick, who will headline five shows at Levity Live from May 10 to May 12. "It's literally right around the corner, but I'm discouraged from coming here because I have to actually murder somebody for a spot. I've killed three people right outside of Target because they had a prime spot, and I need to get a new vacuum cleaner, right now, for my wife."

Much of Dominick's work has required him to either commute to New York City or to tour the country. He offers comedic and serious political commentary in frequent appearances on CNN and on his SiriusXM radio show, "Stand Up! With Pete Dominick," now in its sixth year. He also warms up crowds for "The Colbert Report" and the YES Network's "CenterStage."

When Dominick moved to Congers in 2007, his primary focus was on his family; his wife, Valerie Vendrame, is a personal trainer and yoga instructor, and their daughters, Ava and Julia, attend Clarkstown schools. But since the move, Dominick has not only found new comedy venues nearby, hes also has discovered lots of new material, ranging from ticket-happy state troopers on Interstate 87 to the exclusive maternal clique at kids' parties.

"How come I'm the only dad at these birthday parties?" he asks, experimenting with a new bit. "I'm the only man there, and it's a whole bunch of women who literally will not allow me to come into their conversations. It's like herds of animals in Africa; if I approach, they move away. God forbid I overhear some of your gossip about which mom is doing what, and the new store in the mall, whatever the hell else you guys are talking about. But let me in! I've got thoughtful, feminine ideas to share with you."

Telling jokes that hit close to home, Dominick made his county stage debut at the Turning Point Cafe in Piermont last year and has been performing at Levity Live since it opened in January. He had been shopping in the Apple store in the Palisades Center when his friend, Gotham Comedy Club co-owner Steve Mazzilli, called to tell him about his newest club in that very same mall. Dominick raced up three floors to check out Levity Live and was immediately impressed.

"I've worked at five-star clubs, opening for people and eventually headlining myself, and this is probably the nicest comedy club I've ever been in," Dominick says. "It's really well-laid-out. The people who did it know exactly what they're doing."

And seemingly so does Dominick, who tempers talk of his professional ambition to discuss his appreciation for what he already has.

"The idea that you can maintain a level of success in this business is profound," says Dominick, who got his first big break with an invitation to the 2006 Montreal Comedy Festival. "We always think we have to move up and get to the next step, [but] I have a national radio show, three hours every day, that's so satisfying, rewarding and challenging to me; I appear on TV three or four times a week; and I do stand-up as much as possible ... It's about staying on the train, man. To keep working, for a comedian and for anybody in show business, is a huge privilege."

IF YOU GO

What: Pete Dominick's stand-up comedy shows

When: 8 p.m., Thursday, May 10; 8 p.m. and 10 p.m., Friday, May 11; 7 p.m. and 9 p.m., Saturday, May 12

Information: Levity Live, 4210 Palisades Center Dr., West Nyack; 845-353-5400; www.levitylive.com; cost: $17-$20

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