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Contact Information: Tanya Klein Public Relations 973-596-3433

NJIT’s Celebration Raises $400,000; Comedian Joe Piscopo Kept Laughs Rolling

Comedian Joe Piscopo was the featured entertainer at NJIT’s Celebration 2007.   The annual black-tie event, held earlier last month at the Somerset Palace, drew 300 supporters and raised almost $400,000 to support endowed scholarship funds for NJIT students. Since 1995, this gala evening of dinner and dancing has raised nearly $3 million. Celebration honors individuals for achievements of great benefit to New Jersey and the nation, and organizations that have been exceptional in their commitment to the university's mission.

For almost 20 years, Piscopo, who grew up in Cedar Grove, has proven to be one of show business’ brightest lights. After stints as a disc jockey and dinner-theater performer, Piscopo turned to comedy. In 1980, he was chosen to join a newly-formed ensemble charged with one of the most difficult tasks in TV history—replacing the original cast of Saturday Night Live. By the time he left the show in 1985, Piscopo had left his mark on the program, and the nation, thanks to his wide range of hilarious original characters and celebrity impersonations, from The Sports Guy and Doug Whiner to David Letterman and, of course, Frank Sinatra, who had repeatedly endorsed Piscopo’s portrayal of him.

In addition, Piscopo starred in three HBO specials; his work in the first of these, The Joe Piscopo Special, won him a Cable ACE Award for Outstanding Performance. He also starred in the critically acclaimed New Jersey Special on ABC-TV.

His work on Saturday Night Live quite naturally led to Hollywood, and starring roles in such smash hits as Wise Guys and Johnny Dangerously. Other film credits include Dead Heat, Sidekicks, and the independent feature films Two Bits & Pepper, Roger Corman’s Demolition Day, The Last Request, and a dramatic, critically acclaimed performance in Jonathan Parker’s Bartleby.

In January 1996, Joe conquered yet another realm when he starred on Broadway as disc jockey Vince Fontaine in Grease! The show’s producers were so impressed with his Broadway turn that they built a touring company around him for the summer of 1996.  When Grease! re-opened on Broadway in April 1997 after a three-month hiatus, it was  Piscopo who was asked to headline the production in order to get it back on its feet.

Piscopo has recently won acclaim for his dramatic guest-starring roles on the NBC drama Law and Order. His voice was heard on the Nickelodeon comedy series The 1,000 Deeds of Eddie McDowd and as Santa Claus in the ABC-TV special Dear Santa.

For more than 125 years, the institution historically known as New Jersey Institute of Technology has enabled talented young men and women to embark on careers in a broad range of technological, scientific and design fields. Generations of NJIT alumni have risen to prominence in the private and public sectors, realizing their full promise as leaders and innovators. NJIT is dedicated to making this opportunity available to as many outstanding applicants as possible, regardless of their financial circumstances. With the assistance of concerned supporters who share this vision for the future, NJIT will continue to nurture the aspirations of students whose personal success is vital for the well-being of our home state, and nation as a whole and the global community.

One of the nation's leading public technological universities, New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) is a top-tier research university that prepares students to become leaders in the technology-dependent economy of the 21st century. NJIT's multidisciplinary curriculum and computing-intensive approach to education provide technological proficiency, business acumen and leadership skills. With an enrollment of more than 10,000 graduate and undergraduate students, NJIT offers small-campus intimacy with the resources of a major public research university. NJIT is a global leader in such fields as solar research, nanotechnology, resilient design, tissue engineering, and cyber-security, in addition to others. NJIT ranks 5th among U.S. polytechnic universities in research expenditures, topping $110 million, and is among the top 1 percent of public colleges and universities in return on educational investment, according to PayScale.com.