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Great Neck man brings free comedy to town

Great Neck's Peter Vellios holds court at Simply

Great Neck's Peter Vellios holds court at Simply Fondue in Great Neck, part of a free weekly comedy night Vellios started at the restaurant. (Jan. 10, 2011) Credit: Mary Kate Mahoney

After moving to Great Neck from Manhattan in October 2010, Peter Vellios, a comedy enthusiast and part-time actor and voice-over artist, was disappointed in the lack of free entertainment in his new town.

“A few city comedic friends suggested the same thing: ‘Why don't you start a [comedy] room?’’’ Vellios said. “I thought, ‘Why not?’”

He ran with the idea, and Tuesday night marked the one-year anniversary of his first admission-free stand-up comedy show, which is held every Tuesday from 8 to 10 p.m. at Simply Fondue on Great Neck Road in Great Neck.

“It’s a quality show, and there’s nothing around like it in this area to compare it to,” Vellios, 36, said.

Simply Fondue co-owner Tom Dundee has been an enthusiastic support of the show, accepting Vellios’ determination to keep the performance free.

“There aren’t many people with the kind of qualities and virtues Peter has,” Dundee said. “He’s all about the opportunity and the exposure, and he’s determined not to charge for comedy.”

Vellios’ passion has attracted widespread support from the professional comedy world. The show regularly features acts from Comedy Central, NBC’s “Last Comic Standing,” SiriusXM Radio and popular New York City comedy clubs. Vellios said previous acts have included Eliot Chang and Vanessa Hollingshead, who have had their own Comedy Central specials.

“The comedians like honing their skills here,” Dundee said. “I don’t know if you want to call it a beatnik coffeehouse environment, but everybody says the same thing: ‘Comics love the intimacy.’”

To commemorate his one-year anniversary Tuesday night, Vellios gathered eight comedians, who have been with him since the beginning and still frequent the Simply Fondue stage.

“These guys did the show by faith,” Vellios said.

Miguel Dalmau, who performed in the first show last year, was Tuesday night’s opening act.

“I come back at least once a month,” Dalmau said. “It’s one of my favorite rooms [to perform in].”

Vellios’ show attracts several regular patrons. Lisa Hartunian of Great Neck has been in the audience almost every week since her first visit in May.

“The variety factor really excited me,” Hartunian said. “I like that it changes every week.”

Those kinds of reviews make Vellios very happy.

“My main goal in all of this was to give these guys a place to shine and give the community something without expecting payment in return,” he said. “I truly see it as a service to the community.”

For more information about the free comedy show, contact Peter Vellios at

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