Untreated mental health issues can potentially lead to devastating outcomes. A local comedian is trying to bring solutions to the surface through comedy.
Comedian and Hewlett High School alumnus, Jay Nog (class of 1997), is set to bring the annual Strictly for Laughs Comedy Event back to Long Island for the first time since 2001. Joining Nog this year will be a cast of fellow Hewlett-alumni which so far includes Dave Siegel (‘94), Jeff Cerulli (‘98), and Tyler Gildin (‘07).
This year’s event will be held at Backstage at the Woodmere Lanes on Thursday, Feb. 28 at 7:30 p.m. It was created after a classmate of Nog’s from Hewlett High, Jonathan Goodstein, committed suicide in 1999 as a way to raise awareness for suicide prevention.
Nog considered Goodstein, who he and others collectively referred to as “Goody” as one of his best friends. “The best way I can describe Goody was that all the girls wanted to be with him and all the guys wanted to be like him,” Nog said. “There were no warning signs before his suicide that indicated that he wasn’t doing well.”
Another thing that Nog seeks to accomplish by hosting this show is to raise awareness on mental health issues in general. “When someone noteworthy commits suicide, it is talked about for a couple of days and then it is forgotten about and swept under the rug,” he said. “Suicide has unfortunately become a growing cause and it’s something that needs to be talked about constantly.”
Strictly for Laughs proceeds will benefit the Jonathan Goodstein Scholarship Fund. The scholarship is presented annually at Hewlett High School’s Senior Night to a graduate hopeful who “exemplifies the qualities of a true friend.”
Nog noted that while he is usually in attendance for when the scholarship is presented, he also expressed interest in appearing at his former high school more often to talk to the students about mental health issues. “High school seniors are at the point in their lives where they are faced with big decisions on college,” Nog said. “It would be good to speak with the high schoolers on these issues and tell them to be open and honest about the stress that they’re dealing with.”
For Gildin, he is happy to be apart of Nog’s initiative for the first time. “I’ve known Jay (Nog) for over five years and he asked me to participate in it this year,” Gildin said. “I see this as an opportunity to perform in my own backyard for a great cause. I also haven’t been to Backstage in quite some time so it will be cool to perform there.”
Nog touched on how special it is that this year’s Strictly for Laughs acts are all-Hewlett High School alumni. “Knowing that all of the acts went to the same high school as John makes it that much cooler,” he said. “Going forward, I would like to keep holding the event on Long Island and get the local high schools such as Hewlett and Lynbrook involved in it.”
Admission is $25, with a one drink minimum. Tickets can be purchased and donations can be made at https://fundly.com/strictly-for-laughs-1. The Backstage is at 948 Broadway in Woodmere.