‘Sarge’ to Bombard JCC With Uplifting Humor

Jul 04, 2018

Triple threat comedian-singer-pianist Steven “Sarge” Pickman takes over the Jewish Community Center of Long Beach Island on Sunday, July 15 at 7:30 p.m.

Prior to gracing the JCC’s stage, Pickman has set foot on platforms ranging from “The Late Late Show” to Radio City Music Hall. The New York native has been entertaining crowds since as early as his sixth birthday when, after seeing “The Sound of Music” on Broadway, he performed the score of the show on piano.

Labeled a savant, he has continued to practice music and the art of entertainment ever since. A graduate of Boston University’s School of Public Communication, Pickman formally entered the entertainment industry as a talent representative. However, the stage called to him, and he enrolled at the Lee Strasberg Theater Institute. He began writing, performing and producing for FOX’s “Best Damn Sports Show Period.” He then hosted FOX sports radio and worked for ABC Wide World of Sports and CBS Sports. With encouragement from “The NFL Today” host Greg Gumbel, Pickman decided to trade in the world of sports for the world of comedy. Following three years of club and college performances across America, he began to open for big names such as Aretha Franklin and The Beach Boys.

Known as a pioneer of “Comedy Therapy,” he performs largely in treatment centers and recovery residences, speaking about his own struggles with addiction and sobriety. As a result of the incredible effects of comedy therapy, Pickman released a comedy recovery film, “Sarge Behind Bars,” shot entirely at the Casper, Wyo., Reentry Prison, combining standup with interviews with the facility’s residents. The intent of the production was to demonstrate the power of comedy among compromised audiences. In 2015, Pickman released I’m Still Standing Up, a memoir that addresses the role comedy has played in his life. Two years later he released an autobiography, Black Boychik.

The road to entertaining has not always been easy for him. Born in Miami Beach, Fla., and raised in Great Neck, Long Island, by adoptive parents, Pickman often struggled to understand his black heritage. He grew up in a Jewish household and attended an all-white Episcopalian prep school, where he was often the subject of bullying. Struggles with his identity led him to alcohol, drugs and gambling. These vices led to a brief life of homelessness. He quit substances “cold turkey” in 1990 and has been clean since.

Pickman has said his “view of life is to use humor” to manage life’s difficulties and now encourages others to do the same. Motivated by the desire to make others happy, he considers himself “the fresh air” for many audiences he speaks to. When not on stage, Pickman wears many other hats including that of husband and father.

Tickets can be purchased at the JCC in Spray Beach during business hours (Monday, Wednesday, Friday, 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.) or via email at sargejcc@gmail.com. Tickets must be purchased in advance and cost $50 for sanctuary seating and $35 for auditorium seating. There will also be a pre-show reception at 5:30 p.m. on the evening of the show for $125 (which includes sanctuary seating). For additional information, call 609-492-4090.

— Morgan Turner


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