By the time he left the show in 1985, Joe 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 Joe'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 SNL quite naturally led to Hollywood, and starring roles in such smash hits as “Wise Guys” (with Danny DeVito) and “Johnny Dangerously” (with Michael Keaton). Other film credits include “Dead Heat”, “Sidekicks” and the independent feature films “Two Bits & Pepper”, Roger Corman’s, “Demolition Day”, “The Last Request” (with Danny Aiello) 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! (Ever the trouper, Joe insisted on performing opening night despite conditions created by one of the worst blizzards in history). The show's producers were so impressed with his Broadway turn that they built a touring company around him for the summer of 1996. And when Grease! reopened on Broadway in April, 1997 after a three-month hiatus, it was Joe who was asked to headline the production in order to get it back on its feet.
Joe has also recently won acclaim for his dramatic guest-starring roles on the NBC drama, “Law and Order”. You might have also seen Joe on the HBO series “Arli$$”, or as a guest on The FOX News Channel and the nationally syndicated television show, “Extra”. His voice was heard on the Nickelodeon comedy series, “The 1000 Deeds of Eddie McDowd”, and yes, that was Joe as Santa Claus in the ABC-TV Special, “Dear Santa”.
Two years ago, Joe Piscopo established Avellino Productions. The New Jersey-based production company has signed a television development deal with HBO for a limited series, “Bloomfield Avenue”. Other projects include, a half-hour sitcom, “Jersey Girls “, and “Joey Benefit”, an independent feature film.
Advertisers have long appreciated Joe's unique relationship with his public. He has been featured in two long-running and memorable ad campaigns, for Miller Lite Beer and Bally's health spas. He has also appeared as spokesman for Station Casinos in Las Vegas and GNC Nutrition Centers. Joe most recently appeared in a nationally aired Ragu commercial with Joe Theisman, Joe Fraiser, and Evan Marriott (a.k.a. Joe Millionaire from the popular Fox reality show).
Live performances have always been an important part of Joe's career. He has long been one of America's most popular comedy concert attractions, filling arenas and casino showrooms from coast-to-coast and in Canada. Joe tours with his own original Big Band tribute to Frank Sinatra, as well as his multi-media comedy show.
Although his unique talents are in constant demand from show business quarters, Joe devotes an extraordinary amount of time to non-profit and charitable activities. His willingness to perform at benefit functions knows no limits.
Piscopo received the Volunteer of the Year Award from Big Brothers Big Sisters of Mercer County, NJ and was the keynote speaker at the Big Brothers Big Sisters National Conference in Chicago. In addition, Piscopo has received Community Service Awards from Boys and Girls Clubs in New Jersey and Broward Co., Fla. and is especially proud to have been recognized from Boy’s Town of Italy in Rome. He was also honored by the Police Activities League in Houston, TX and in a ceremony at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City, Joe was presented The Leadership in the Performing Arts Award by the Coalition of Italian-American Associations. In 1999, New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman appointed Joe as a Commissioner on The New Jersey Commission to Deter Criminal Activity. Joe is also proud to have represented General Colin Powell on behalf of “America’s Promise”. In January 2002, Joe was inducted into the “Action Martial Arts Hall of Fame”. Most recently Joe was honored by The Cooley’s Anemia Foundation and in April 2004, was selected by the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations to receive the internationally prestigious, “Ellis Island Medal of Honor.”
Perhaps nearest and dearest to Joe's heart, however, is Jersey Joe's Gyms, a Newark program involving the city's police department and Boys and Girls Club. The concept is twofold: To give inner-city kids a safe and fun place to develop their minds and bodies, and to bring together police and children for mentoring and the promotion of drug-and-violence-free behavior.
As a result of this work, Piscopo started his own foundation called “The Positive Impact Foundation”, creating positive media for at risk youth including the syndicated television show for teens, “Positive Impact TV”. This groundbreaking series mixes education and entertainment to reinforce positive behavior and lifestyles among at-risk youth from both urban and suburban backgrounds. The Positive Impact Foundation is proudly working with The Enterasys Networks, supplying a $1 million dollar in-kind grant to inner-city schools for Internet and computer access.
Now Joe is tackling the world of sports, where he has become the Ambassador for his hometown Newark Bears Professional Baseball Club. In his role as Ambassador for the Bears Joe will serve in a variety of capacities, including sales, marketing and promotion. Although Joe’s impressive career and public service includes several major accomplishments, he insists his proudest achievement of all is twice being named Father of the Year in 1983 by the National Father's Day Council, and in 1989 by the New Jersey Council of Children's Rights. No matter how busy he may be, Joe always makes sure he has enough time to spend at his Central New Jersey home with his children Joey, Michael, Alexandra and newborn Olivia.
- An Afternoon/Evening with Joe Piscopo