Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Comedians with Disabilities Act this Saturday, July 30, at the Uptown Theatre in Napa!

A blind man. A woman who stutters. A wheelchair user. A little person. While this may sound like a description of a support group, it is, in fact, the lineup for the “Comedians with Disabilities Act”, a comedy tour that the San Francisco Examiner called “The most unconventional comics to pop up in 2011”. Made up entirely of performers with different disabilities, the troupe is bringing their “special” brand of humor to Napa’s Uptown Theatre on Saturday night, July 30th, for a one-night-only fundraiser to benefit Special Olympics. The foursome, all of them working northern California comedians, met each other through the comedy club circuit and decided to band together to treat audiences to a unique and unforgettable experience.

“Lots of able-bodied comedians out there tell blind or wheelchair jokes and get the audience to laugh AT the handicapped,” said Michael O’Connell, the group’s wheelchair representative. “But wouldn’t it be more fun for the crowd, we thought, to be invited to laugh WITH the handicapped instead? That’s guilt-free fun right there.”

Since their first sold-out show in Sacramento, the group has been in growing demand, getting booked at such lauded venues as San Francisco’s Punch Line comedy club and at college campuses. Their comedy comes from the lifetime of experiences each has had due to their individual challenges. They see the tour as not only a chance to entertain, but to educate people on disability issues.

“We’re all comedians first,” said Napa native Steve Danner, the comic who is a little person, “and it’s a comedy show. But who says you can’t make people laugh and send them home with something to think about too?”

Danner’s comedy career began as an audience member at a club. The comedian on stage that night decided to have some fun at his expense, and Danner’s skills in heckling back at him led the comic to approach Danner after the show and suggest he give comedy a try. He did so, and soon began a career as a prolific comedian and producer, delighting crowds at clubs and comedy rooms all over the west coast with hysterical tales centered heavily on his dwarfism. His comic journey keeps him on the road much of the time, but as Danner is fond of saying, “Shrimpin’ Ain’t Easy!”.

Michael O’Connell was diagnosed with Muscular Dystrophy at two years old and went into a wheelchair full time in 1995. But it wasn’t until years later that a friend dared him to try doing comedy at an open mic night at a Sacramento club, and after ending up winning the competition that first night on stage, he never looked back. He’s played comedy clubs from Seattle to San Diego, been featured in newspaper and on radio and television, and counts several Hollywood celebrities among his fans. His business card reads “100% Comedy, 0% Stand-Up”.

Eric Mee was only eighteen years old when, while protecting a young child, he was stabbed in the chest. Complications resulting from his injury led to the loss of his eyesight. Choosing not to let this drastic life change get him down, he began joking about his condition and giving speeches to groups that were always filled with humor. After many suggestions, he turned his talents to stand-up comedy, and now brings his manic energy and outrageous tales to the stage.

Touting herself as “the world’s only female comedian who stutters”, Nina G. hails from the Bay Area and has spent a lifetime dealing with both speech and learning disability issues. A key note speaker and disability activist, Nina turned her talents to the stand-up stage to help raise disability awareness through comedy, and performs at some of the industry’s hottest clubs (the Hollywood Improv and the Purple Onion) and has shared the stage with some of its biggest names (Dave Chappelle).

This concert features a special guest performance by Los Angeles comedian Samuel J. Comroe, a fast-rising stand-up star with Tourette Syndrome. Comroe learned back in school how to get others to laugh about (instead of at) his condition, and used to perform comedy shows on his high school campus at lunch for fifty cents a person. This love of comedy turned into career, and he’s now a regular at LA laugh spots like the Improv, the Ice House and Flappers, has won several comedy competitions (including placing 8th out of 101 in the World Series of Comedy in Las Vegas) and has taken his one-of-a-kind performances nationwide.

Produced by Big Mini Entertainment, the benefit concert begins at 8:00 PM (doors open at 7:00 PM).  Tickets are $20.00 and may be purchased at the box office or through Ticketmaster.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

"Smokin' & Jokin' II" this Friday, July 8, at Tobacco Road!

Kick-ash comedy returns to Tobacco Road cigar lounge this Friday, July 8th, at 8:00 PM, courtesy of Ramp-Up Productions and the Punch Cigar Company.

After its monster debut, Sacramento's only comedy and cigar event returns to kick the jokes and light the smokes once more.  Attendees will enjoy fine cigars from Tobacco Road's mammoth humidor while being treated to comedic sets from some of Northern California's finest comedians.

Veteran comic Kristen Frisk, winner of 2010's Tommy T's Talent Search Finals, has been dazzling audiences solo and as part of one of California's hottest comedy tours - "The Real (Funny) Housewives of Rio Linda" - and now brings her madcap skills to the smoking set.  Having played such venues at the San Jose Improv and Sacramento's Punch Line, she's now the first comedienne to perform at Tobacco Road, and plans to leave her mark.

Ellis Rodriguez, the Boston-born son of Panamanian immigrants and former Marine, is a west coast comedy power player who's a regular favorite at clubs like the Hollywood Improv, the Laugh Factory, Tommy T's, Pepperbelly's and Laughs Unlimited, and recently completed taping on his soon-to-be-released comedy DVD "Go Be a Clown".  Smokin' & Jokin' audience members will get a chance to see this dynamic, charismatic and much-heralded performer in an intimate (and smoky) venue.

The show will be hosted by wheelchair comedian Michael O'Connell, a regular at Tobacco Road and a player at comedy clubs from Seattle to San Diego.  The creator of Smokin' & Jokin', he is also one of the founders of the "Comedians with Disabilities Act" comedy tour, a troupe of disabled comics that have brought their unique brand of funny to venues like the San Francisco Punch Line and are preparing for their July 30th blockbuster show at Napa's Uptown Theater.

The second Smokin' & Jokin' show brings a new twist as the hour before the show begins (7:00 PM to 8:00 PM) will become Amateur Hour, when audience members will be invited to come up and try their hand and telling a joke at the mic before an audience.  This portion will be for amateurs only.  No working comedians will be able to perform.

Handling sound and spinning Rat Pack music for the show will be NorCal's DJ Rob, whose skills and tunes will set the tone for this exclusive and unforgettable evening.

Sponsoring the show will be Punch Cigars, and Punch's representative, Ed Trevino, will be on hand with cigar deals, offers and merchandise. 

Tickets for the event will be $10.00 and will be for sale at the door only.  No advance tickets sales will be provided.  Seating is limited due to the venue's size, so early arrival is strongly recommended.  Early arrival also allows plenty of time to relax, enjoy the lounge's friendly atmosphere, and light up a stogie or two.

Smokin' & Jokin' II will go down at:

Tobacco Road Cigar Lounge
2912 Pasatiempo Lane
(at Town & Country Village, corner of Fulton and Marconi, across from Trader Joe's)
Sacramento, CA 95821
916 489 4590

Come spend your Friday night lounging and laughing at Tobacco Road!