The St. Patrick’s Committee of Holyoke has announced that the 62nd recipient of the JFK National Award is comedian, actor, improvisational performer and Holyoke native, TJ Jagodowski. The John Fitzgerald Kennedy Award is presented annually to an American of Irish descent who has distinguished themselves in their chosen field.
TJ’s career spans across the stage, television and film. After moving to Chicago in the 1990s, he auditioned for the national renowned The Second City sketch comedy theater, where he was hired to perform as part of the national touring company, and there begun a long and successful career in comedy.
TJ can frequently be seen on television as one of the “Two Guys” spokesmen for Sonic Drive-In commercials, which is one of the longest-running television commercial campaigns in history. TJ is also known for his part of the improvisational duo, “TJ and Dave” with Dave Pasquesi. Their show has run for 17 years in Chicago and has had consistent runs for nearly 15 years at the Barrow Street Theater in Greenwich Village. “TJ and Dave” have also performed across the country and internationally in Toronto, Rome, Vienna, Copenhagen and London’s Soho Theater.
“TJ and Dave” are two-time winners of New York City’s Nightlife Award – “Best Unique Comedy Performance” in 2006 and “Outstanding Unique Comedy Performance” in 2007. The duo shared the Chicago Improv Festival’s award for “Improvisers of the Year” in 2006 and the Chicago Reader Award for “Best Improvised Show” in 2008. In 2009, “TJ and Dave” were the subject of a documentary that premiered at the South by Southwest film festival entitled “Trust Us, This Is All Made Up”. TJ also received the “Best Actor Award” in 2016 from the Midwest Independent Film Festival.
TJ grew up in the Elmwood section of Holyoke with his parents, Tom and Maureen (Kennedy) Jagodowski and brothers Todd and Troy. He has fond memories of playing baseball at Mackenzie Field and candlepin bowling at the former Holyoke Bowl-O-Drome. He is a graduate of Holyoke Catholic High School and Syracuse University, and TJ and his wife, Beth Melewski, live in Chicago with their dog, Josie.
Upon receiving the award, TJ said “I’m beyond thrilled to be the 2019 JFK Award recipient. I love Holyoke and I love the parade. To be a part of something so special in my hometown is something I could have only dreamed about, sitting at the bottom of Elmwood Avenue watching the pipes and drums go by every Parade. I’m truly honored and cannot wait to come home in March.”
JFK National Award selection committee chair, Mike Ahearn said “The Parade Committee takes special pride in recognizing the achievements and talents of fellow Holyokers and TJ is certainly one that we are proud to call one of our own.”
2019 Parade President, Devin Sheehan said “TJ’s accomplishments and versatile career as a performer certainly earns him a place among the notable Irish Americans that have been JFK National award recipients. I look forward to marching with him on March 17th.”
TJ will be recognized at a reception in his honor on Saturday, March 16 at the Delaney House in Holyoke. To purchase tickets, please contact Sue Poulin at email@example.com.
The 68th St. Patrick’s Parade will be held on Sunday, March 17, 2019 and the 44th St. Patrick’s Road Race will be held on Saturday March 16th.