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Lots of laughs for Pillitteri's Icebreakers performance

Local comic, Joe Pillitteri, kicked off the ninth annual Icebreakers Comedy Festival with hilarious anecdotes about his wife, parents and family.

But before he spoke, clad in matching velour tracksuits — donated by a sponsor — event organizers Jeff Paul and Tim Balasiuk welcomed emcee Pillitteri to the stage. Born and raised in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Pillitteri is also an inspirational speaker, motivational leader and past Citizen of the Year.

“The local hero is always Joe Pillitteri, and I always appreciate what he brings to the table,” said Virgil’s Mark Cherney. “He's a shining example of who we are here in Niagara.”

During his bit, Pillitteri left no family member untouched in the packed house at Oast House Brewers on Jan. 26, starting three nights of comedy in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Over a dozen comedians appeared at Oast, Corks Winebar and Ravine Vineyard.

Derek Seguin, a Montreal native who has performed at the prestigious invitation-only Just for Laughs Festival an astounding 11 times, made the full house at Oast roar with laughter at his take on the pandemic. “Everyone has been tired of COVID for so long, it was good to laugh about it instead of stress about it,” said Virgil resident Alice Sirard.

Cherney is grateful this festival “happens in our own backyard. We need more of this in our small community, not only for the tourism sector but for the locals to get out and appreciate and enjoy what really goes on here.”

Matt Wayland thought this was “a very good kick start to the winter season for our festivals”.  He also noted that it was “a really great crowd here tonight - a packed house and these comedians really lit it up.”