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Sebastian Comedy Retreat, Florida 2011

By Nathan Timmel

The Sebastian Comedy Retreat is a gathering of stand-up comics, managers, club owners, agents and entertainment industry professionals that takes place in Vero Beach, Florida January 9th – 15th, 2011. Participants can focus on their goals and objective of their careers in a peaceful and restorative setting. Workshops, parties, showcases, skill building conferences along with outdoor activities that allow attendees to gain priceless insight and spark more industry relationships. Rooftop correspondent and Iowa based comedian Nathan Timmel had a few questions for retreat director Victoria Jackson.

Rooftop:   How many years have you been offering this retreat for comedians?

VJ:   This is our first year for this retreat and we are working hard to make this first year a successful, entertaining, and worthwhile, so that we may continue to do this every year and grow bigger and bigger as the word and laughter spreads throughout the country.

Rooftop:   The retreat seems a generous mix of business and pleasure; what would you say the breakdown is between the two?

VJ:     Not only will this retreat break down the fundamentals for beginner comics or those veterans looking to gain and create new material but to meet others, network there talent and to have fun. You will get to showcase your work, talk to veteran comics and agents in the business. We have a lot of events throughout the week that comics can sign up for such as a Kayak River Tour, a day out on the beautiful Indian River and Atlantic Ocean for a day of fishing. We also offer a March Harbor, Bahamas Day Trip, which is a beautiful get away for those who live in the cold weather. We will have a Cocktail reception along with a party at Waldo’s Restaurant on the beach where the comics and residents of the area will get to mix and mingle.

Rooftop:    What can comedians expect to get out of their weekend in Florida?

VJ:   They will leave here hopefully wanting to come back next year and with new ideas and big plans for their career. Not to mention a good tan, and a suitcase full of sand.

[“What Sundance is to the Indy film business is what we are trying to build Comic Retreat into for professional stand-up comics.” said Pete O’Neil Managing Partner of Sebastian Comedy Society, LLC]

Rooftop:   Who initially dreamed up the comedian’s retreat?

VJ:   Our Managing Director, Pete O’Neil.

Rooftop:   What club owners and bookers do you have lined up for comics to mingle with?

VJ:   This is our inaugural year; we have invited club owners and bookers from across the nation. We will have our final attendance list by Jan. 5th 2011.

Rooftop: You have a beginner workshop and a veteran workshop; describe the differences between the two. What can a beginning comic expect to take away from the experience? What new advice will be offered to the “road dogs”

VJ:  A Beginning Comic will take away not just the opportunity to be in Sunny Florida for a few days, but also the experience of being on stage, getting there name out and meeting numerous other comics from all around the nation. Networking in this business is so important and our Comic Retreat will bring the perfect opportunity to do just that.

The beginners workshop will consist of: Comedy writing, the joke formula, stage fright memorization, and stage techniques. The instructor is from The School of Comedy, at the New York Hysterical Society.

The Seasoned Road Dog Workshop will be hosted by comedy business marketing instructor Bernie Furshpa. The program provides more advanced marketing and social network techniques. It includes items to consider in auditioning for TV, movies and commercials. I will be providing the comedians the opportunity to do a 4-5 minute set with my critiques. How to develop a strong brand and promoting it. Websites, business cards and letterheads.

More details about both can be found at:

Rooftop:   What is the difference between the workshop for road dogs, and the travel tips lunch for veteran comics?

VJ:   Our workshops are being conducted by a New York City based comedy school and the Travel Tips Lunch is being hosted by a veteran comic and is more focused on the travel needs of today’s traveling / working circuit comics.

Rooftop:   Talk about the Dukes Comedy Cove showcase on January 15th; will that be an all showcase night for participants of the retreat?  How much time will each comic get? Who will be there that can “get you a gig?”

VJ:   All showcase shows that week are for comics at the retreat.  They will each get 8-12 mins. to perform. Stand-up comedy fans from Florida’s Treasure Coast will be at the shows and voting for the best comic(s) of each show. We have invited bookers and club owners from across the nation to attend. This will be a great chance to think of new ideas and share that with our East Coast audience.

Rooftop:   Talk about the contest you’re sponsoring; what does it entail?   (How many rounds; ultimate prizes, etc)

VJ:   Each showcase show the audience will pick the top two comics (by written ballot) and the top ten comics will be awarded $250 cash each, a free week stay at The Surf Club Hotel, and a featured paid gig at our Dukes Comedy Cove during 2011 season. Our Duke’s Comedy Cove has been getting bigger and bigger each weekend and we are ready to kick of a great 2011 of Comedy to those here on the Treasure Coast.

Rooftop:  Describe Sebastian Comedy Society LLC to those unfamiliar with it; when was it founded? How many venues do they currently book? Who are the Fortune 500 CEO’s, front office NFL team staff members and other executives in charge? Why did they choose to get into the comedy business?

VJ:   Sebastian Comedy Society was founded two years ago when Pete O’Neil retired down to Florida. We currently are hosting the

Duke’s Comedy Cove at the Surf Club Hotel in Vero Beach. We have hosted shows in the past at The Elks Lodge in Sebastian, Florida and The Costa d’ Este Beach Resort in Vero Beach, Florida.  Our booking agency for our shows is Summit Comedy.  Pete worked in the front office on the 1983 Super Bowl Los Angeles Raiders when he was younger. The privately owned firm is owned by Mr. O’Neil and a group of silent investors based in Florida. Our firm is in a populated area of retirees with a mix of the younger population and we are looking to bring something new and entertaining to the Vero Beach area. Everyone loves to laugh and this will be just the place to do so. I ( Victoria Jackson) am the Marketing Director and a recent graduate of Florida State University with a degree in Editing, Writing and Media. I have done internships while in college such as Interning with Florida State’s Sports Information Office fashioning and conducting press releases, media guides, and feature/game stories for our 19 varsity athletic teams on campus. I was a member of Delta Zeta Sorority and Head Athletic Coordinator of Pow Wow 2009 held at the Leon County Civic Center and worked with popular (and hilarious) Comedian Jim Gaffigan who performed. I have done numerous other promotions and hope to make Comic Retreat 2011 one of the best events Vero Beach has ever seen.

For more information:


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