When it comes to taking work home with him, Dr. Jay Sutay sees it as more of a boon than a bust.
“Every day I show up to work, I get material,” he said during a recent interview. “It just kind of writes itself.”
Since the early 1990s, Sutay has been a pediatrician, administering to families in the South Windsor area, where he lives. However, several years ago, he decided to give his first love another round, taking to stages across the area as a stand-up comic.
His act is rich in the experience of working with parents and children, raising two teenage daughters and negotiating an ever-evolving healthcare system.
“I deal with insurance companies and anxious parents every day,” he said. “I do my comedy to blow off some steam.”
He said some people do not believe he is a pediatrician and that it is just part of an act, but to know Sutay’s background, it’s clear he did not skimp on his training.
A 1985 graduate of Fairfield University, he began his studies at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine in Farmington in the late 1980s, graduating in 1990 as valedictorian of his class.
“You know, I am not like Larry the Cable Guy, I actually do this for a living,” said Sutay who grew up in Trumbull.
Still, for a year before he went into medicine, he said he tried to build a comedy career, working at local and regional stages in the tristate area. One of those venues was the old New England Motor Lodge in Westport, where Treehouse Comedy opened its first stage in 1983. Sutay would perform during open mic nights.
In the years that followed, Sutay said Brad Axelrod, who co-founded Treehouse Comedy Productions, has been very supportive of his career, providing him stage time and occasionally sharing a tip or suggestion.
In the past several years, Sutay has made the finals three times in Treehouse Comedy’s Funniest Comic on the East Coast Contest — the latest of which took place in October at Mohegan Sun’s Cabaret Theatre.
Sutay will once again be on the bill for a Treehouse Comedy show on Saturday, Jan. 3, at Mohegan Sun. He is part of a trio of performers, including headliner Kevin Brennan and special guest Stan Stankos. It will offer him a chance to do a bit of a longer set — something he is looking forward to.
“I love it,” he said of stand-up, to which he returned in 2006. “Most of my day is stressful, so I really look forward to those 30 minutes of telling jokes and making people laugh.”
In the eight years since he once again began picking up evening and weekend gigs, he has had a chance to share the stage with such top comics as Rich Vos and Jim Breuer, and he hopes to have opportunities to perform with some of the comics he watched in the late 1980s when he hoped to be where they were.
“My plan is to be in it for the long-term,” he said, though he doesn’t expect to give up his practice any time soon. “I don’t think I’ll every stop being a pediatrician. I like it and I’m good at it. … I don’t golf, so comedy is my hobby.”
In the past several years, he has appeared at places such as City Steam Brewery and the Funny Bone, both located in Hartford. He’s even gone as far as Los Angeles to perform a set.
“I flew out to California, which cost me $1,200 to make $400,” he said. “It’s like medicine.