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Fundraiser set for 'king of LI comedy' Bob Nelson

Comedian Bob Nelson, of Mount Sinai, as one

Comedian Bob Nelson, of Mount Sinai, as one of his characters, Eppy Epperman, in 2013. Credit: Daniel Brennan

Long Island comedians are coming together to help one of their own. "To Bob With Love!" will be held as a stand-up fundraiser on Thursday at Governor’s Comedy Club in Levittown for Bob Nelson, who is currently battling cancer.

"As comedians do, especially on Long Island, we solve things by holding shows for each other," says comedian Joey Kola of Bellmore, who will be one of the headliners. "Bob Nelson is part of the Mount Rushmore of Long Island comedy. Right now he’s hurting and has a lot of medical bills. Therefore we are here to help."

Nelson, 63, of Mount Sinai, has undergone both radiation and chemotherapy. He soon will have surgery for the removal of a tumor.

Known for his wild cartoonish characters like punchy boxer Jiffy Jeff and ultra nerd Eppy Epperman, Nelson once held a weekly Sunday night residency at the East Side Comedy Club in Huntington.

"Bob Nelson was the king of Long Island comedy. He sold out my Sunday nights from 1985-1995," recalls East Side's owner, comedian Richie Minervini. "His string of characters drew a loyal fan base. People would come to see him over and over again."

The event, hosted by Peter Bales, will feature Kola as well as sets from Jackie "The Joke Man" Martling, Rob Bartlett, John Mulrooney, Vinnie Mark and Brad Lowery.

"It’s going to be a good feeling," says Bales, of Northport. "This is about getting the old crew back together. It will be like old home week at Governor’s."

Kola adds, "These are the godfathers of Long Island comedy all in the same room together for a good cause. This is a one-time event. You’ll never get these people on the same bill again."

Martling met Nelson back in 1978, when they were both performing stand-up at Richard M. Dixon’s White House Inn, the North Massapequa birthplace of Long Island comedy that closed in the 1980s. He described Nelson as "incredibly talented and a bit weird."

"Very often I’d close our comedy shows with one of my songs, and then for our finale, the guys would join me onstage for a rousing rendition of ‘You Are My Sunshine,’ " recalls Martling of Bayville. "Bob Nelson would take a ‘balloon solo’ rubbing one of his balloons, so the screeches were in time with our alcohol-fueled bellowing."

Tickets for the 7 p.m. show are $30 and can be purchased at govs.com. All proceeds will go directly toward the Bob Nelson Medical Fund.

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