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Archive for month: June, 2014

Steinberg honored with Legend award; Los Angeles wins stand-up competition

June 16, 2014
June 16, 2014

The seventh annual Great American Comedy Festival’s final performance Saturday night began as it should — with a video tribute to Johnny Carson.

After all, the festival was created to pay tribute to the legacy of Carson, who grew up in Norfolk and went on to host NBC’s “The Tonight Show” for 30 years.

That’s why the rainbow-colored lights created stripes on the Johnny Carson Theatre’s normally red curtain — just like the multi-colored curtain on “The Tonight Show” when Carson hosted it. Several large photographs of Carson lined the stage, and the set of the show was re-created on the theater stage.

Memories of Carson were a frequent theme throughout the 2½ hour performance that attracted a crowd of more than 1,000 despite the evening’s threatening weather.

David Steinberg, for example, entertained the audience with stories of his association with Carson.

“My career, to me, was the ‘Tonight Show with Johnny Carson,’ ” Steinberg said. “Once you made Johnny laugh, it was everything.”

But the recipient of this year’s Johnny Carson Comedy Legend award made more than Carson laugh in his career — entertaining audiences as a stand-up comedian, writer, actor and, more recently, an acclaimed director and producer.

He made 140 appearances on “The Tonight Show,” which is second only to Bob Hope, and also was the youngest person to serve as a guest host on the show.

When he came on the stage and again as he exited it, he was honored with a standing ovation. In between, he was interviewed by Eddie Brill, the festival’s artistic director. Steinberg’s award was presented by Dirk Petersen, general manager of Nucor Steel, the festival’s presenting sponsor.

Brian KileyAnother highlight of the evening was the finals of the festival’s stand-up competition. Eight comedians advanced from shows earlier in the week to compete for the top prize that was won by Brian Kiley of Las Angeles, who is a writer for the Conan O’Brien late-night show.

“I’m just blown away that I won because this was such an impressive group of comedians,” Kiley said.

While on stage, Kiley’s routine involved jokes about his baldness, his wife and the pool boy for a pool he doesn’t have.

Joe Zimmerman of New York City, who tied for third with Mark Pitta of San Francisco, said he was excited to see Kiley win.

“It was a great show and a lot of fun,” Zimmerman said. “I felt good about my routine when I left the stage.”

Michael Somerville of New York City finished second.

Earlier Saturday, the festival hosted the finals of an amateur stand-up competition, which was won by Kris Covi, an attorney from Omaha.

The evening show was topped off by a final stand-up performance from Jim Breuer, who first came to fame as a member of the cast of “Saturday Night Live.”

Breuer said he enjoyed being part of the festival and that it was a great way to honor Carson.

“I watch Johnny Carson reruns almost every night with my parents,” he said. “This festival was awesome, and I would love to come back if they ask me to.”

Robot not coming

June 12, 2014
June 12, 2014
“Sartran” may be a $6 million robot, but that evidently doesn’t mean it’s indestructible.
The comicbot that was scheduled to be part of the children’s festival Saturday in downtown Norfolk will not be making its two scheduled appearances.
Ron Davis, the owner of the robot, had sent the robot in for repairs and upgrades earlier this spring, with the assurance that it would be completed in time for Saturday’s Norfolk appearance. But earlier this week, he found out that the work that needed to be done was more extensive than originally thought, making it impossible for him to keep the Norfolk commitment.
The children’s festival, however, is still a go for Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., with a variety of activities planned for children ages 11 and under.

Dana Carvey to pay tribute to Carson in video

June 9, 2014
June 9, 2014

CARVEY, Dana 05

Longtime comedian and movie actor Dana Carvey will be featured in a video filmed especially for the Norfolk festival in which he pays tribute to the late Johnny Carson.

Carvey — who was a longtime cast member of “Saturday Night Live” and starred in, among others, the “Wayne’s World” movies — was also known for his impersonation of Carson. It was created out of his fondness for the longtime host of “The Tonight Show.”

The video was produced by Mark Pitta, one of the 20 comedians who will be participating in this week’s comedy festival, presented by Nucor Steel.

The Thursday and Friday performances also will feature host Phil Palisoul and headliner Caroline Rhea, along with 10 of the comedians competing in the festival’s professional stand-up competition.