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Local kids doing stand-up at comedy clubs

Connor Williams, 16, from East Northport, is a

Connor Williams, 16, from East Northport, is a performing comedian. His advice: Don't be afraid to make fun of yourself. (Nov. 8, 2011) Credit: Newsday / Rebecca Cooney

Lots of kids fancy themselves "class clown." These 10 Long Island kids go further -- they perform stand-up comedy on stage. Most write their own five-to-eight-minute kid-appropriate routines about growing up -- high school gossip, Sweet 16s, wooing a boyfriend or girlfriend. This weekend, for instance, Conor Williams and Eric Kurn, high school sophomores from East Northport and Jericho, respectively, perform at Gotham Comedy Club's "Kids 'N Comedy" event in Manhattan.

Here's how the kids come up with material and what their advice is for budding comics:

PERFORMING SUNDAY

Conor Williams, 16, East Northport

Sophomore at Holy Trinity High School in Hicksville

Advice: "Try to find the funniness in any situation."

When Conor switched from public to Catholic school last year, he walked around with a paper and pen taking notes. One joke revolves around a school rule that boys can't grow hair past their shoulders. "Have they seen a picture of Jesus?" he says during the act. Conor is currently contemplating spoofing Sweet 16s. "It should be a topic ripe with material." And don't be afraid to poke fun at yourself, he says.

Eric Kurn, 15, Jericho

Sophomore at Jericho High School

Advice: "Join a class like Kids 'N Comedy, which helps kids craft an act."

Kurn watched Comedy Central on TV and was hooked. "Some kids watch a rock concert and say, 'I want to be a rock star.' I liked the idea of getting up on stage and making people laugh." He's working on a new act that includes his community service efforts during a summer camp program in Hawaii. The hardest part of hoping to do stand-up as a career: "It's hard to convince your mom, 'Doctor might not be it.' "

WHAT Kids 'N Comedy

WHERE | WHEN 1 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 20, at Gotham Comedy Club, 208 W. 23rd St., Manhattan

INFO $15 a person, plus one-item minimum; 212-877-6115, kidsncomedy.com

OTHER LI KID COMICS

Steven Prestia, 12, Huntington Station

Seventh grade at Stimson Middle School

Advice: "Practice."

Steven's goal is to be a cast member on "Saturday Night Live" one day. He enjoys both storytelling-style comedy and physical comedy, with some of his role models being Bill Cosby and Jim Carrey. Steven has performed five times in the past year at Gotham Comedy Club in Manhattan, at Maguire's and Governor's comedy clubs on Long Island, and even at a friend's bar mitzvah. One of his jokes that came to him during health class (think British currency when you read it): "England is the only country where it's good when you say, 'I gained a few pounds.'"

Angela Citrola, 17, Northport

Senior at Northport High School and Long Island High School for the Arts in Syosset

Advice "Write, write, write."

"I have a very humorous and awkward life," which provides material, Angela says. She's covered first cars and removing hair from her legs. "I'm writing one right now about 'Dora the Explorer.' I don't know how old this kid is that her parents let her run into a forest by herself. With a fox on the loose." Angela says she hopes to be an actress.

Rick Cisario, 16, Rockville Centre

Junior at Southside High School in Rockville Centre

Advice "Watch everybody you can."

Rick first did a routine at age 11 at his sleepaway camp talent show to impress a girl. Being a kid comic is challenging, because the audience can have both 9-year-olds and 85-year-olds. "Bombing hurts," he says, but it happens. Even that motivates Rick. "Something about it makes me say, 'I want to make sure that doesn't happen again.' " Rick jokes about news and politics, and has imitated John McCain and Tom Brokaw.

Andrew Parenti, 8, Syosset

Second grade at Berry Hill Elementary School

Advice "Just tell a couple of jokes and you won't be nervous anymore."

Andrew's dad, Michael, is co-owner of ComedyToGoInc.com, which organizes shows at Long Island venues. He puts Andrew on stage when there's an appropriate performance, in a signature black pinstripe suit. Dad holds up cue cards with pictures of the joke (for instance, a monkey) to remind Andrew of the order of delivery. One joke: "What's the difference between my brother and a monkey? Nothing."

David Sokolov, 15, Plainview

Sophomore at Rambam Mesivta in Lawrence

Advice "Don't be afraid."

David was inspired by Woody Allen and Seth Rogen. He did a comedy workshop at the Brokerage Comedy Club in Bellmore, where he says he learned how to present a joke, from setting it up to punchline. His act touches on X-box, being Jewish and random observations. Sample joke: "Today's world is so advanced. I was mugged the other day and I had no cash. Luckily the fine gentleman accepted Pay Pal."

Joshua Siegel, 12, Plainview

Sixth grade at H.B. Mattlin Middle School

Advice "Work with the crowd. Don't stare at one person; look around at the audience."

Josh opens one of his routines with, "Laughter is the best medicine. The doctor is in the house!" He jokes about ridiculous names for businesses -- his uncle, he says, named his investment company "Skydiving Investments." Josh auditioned for "America's Got Talent," but he won't find out if he advances to the next round until April. He performs at local open-mic comedy nights and school talent shows.

Andrew Vatier, 17, Douglaston

Senior at St. Mary's High School in Manhasset

Advice "Comedy is still a serious art. Stay on your toes."

Andrew pokes fun at his first job at McDonald's; at his mom, who he says has multiple personalities; and at his spoiled dog, Ziggy. He says he thinks the knack for comedy is something people are born with. "I'm kind of easygoing. It's easier for me to find humor in things than someone who is stressed out and uptight." Andrew says he plans to study business but continue stand-up as a hobby.

Sam Moelis, 13, Hewlett Harbor

Eighth grade at Lynbrook South Middle School

Advice "Be willing to go through embarrassment, even humiliation, to be on top. Even the best comedians -- Jerry Seinfeld -- were horrible at some point."

Sam does jokes about his teachers and kids with short attention spans and classmates who annoy him. He honed his act at a class he took this year at Governor's Comedy Club in Levittown, where he was the youngest in the course. He learned about the importance of timing to stand-up. "At home, I would kind of just blurt things out when I thought of them," he says. The class and the end-of-class shows, he says, were "so much fun."

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