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Archive for month: April, 2015

Kevin Pollak to receive the 2015 Johnny Carson Comedy Legend Award

April 28, 2015
April 28, 2015

KEVIN POLLAK TO RECEIVE 2015 JOHNNY CARSON COMEDY LEGEND AWARD

Kevin Pollack

Comedian, actor, impressionist and filmmaker Kevin Pollak will be this year’s recipient of the Johnny Carson Comedy Legend award — and Eddie Brill couldn’t be more pleased. “Not only does he have his hands in so many creative pies … he does them all well,” said Brill, the creative director of the Great American Comedy Festival. “His resume is chock full of amazing accomplishments, and he was one of Johnny Carson’s favorite guests.”

Pollak will be on hand to receive the award during the Saturday, June 20, finale of this summer’s Great American Comedy Festival, presented by Nucor Steel. He’ll interrupt his work on a new movie to make the trip to Norfolk for the eighth annual festival that began in 2008 to pay tribute to Carson.

“We are extremely excited to have him in Norfolk,” Brill said. Pollak joins an impressive list of previous comedy legend award winners, including David Steinberg, Stephen Wright, Ed Asner and Cloris Leachman. It is one of only two awards in existence today that bear the Carson name.

Pollak has captured the attention of audiences worldwide with his range of both dramatic and comedic roles. He has appeared in more than 70 films, as well as countless television projects, and has established himself as one of the few stand-up comedians to have a successful dramatic film career. In addition to his acting talents, he has also proven himself as both a writer, producer and, more recently, a director and a talk show host. Pollak first started performing stand-up comedy at the age of 10. He became a touring professional stand-up at age 20. In 1988, he was featured in his first HBO stand-up special.

Kevin Pollack 2

It was Pollak’s role in Rob Reiner’s “A Few Good Men” that proved his ability to stand out while sharing the big screen with dramatic heavyweights Tom Cruise, Demi Moore and Jack Nicholson. Soon after, he was co-starring with icons Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon in “Grumpy Old Men” and its sequel, “Grumpier Old Men.” In 1994, he had a major role in “The Usual Suspects,” which debuted at the Cannes Film Festival and won two Academy Awards. In more recent years, while continuing to co-star in more than 45 films since 2000, he has returned to stand-up comedy. He hosts his own Internet talk show — called Kevin Pollak’s Chat Show — and does a comedy podcast called Talkin Walkin, which features him speaking only in the voice of actor Christopher Walken.

Pollak starred in two of his own HBO stand-up comedy specials and was named by Comedy Central as one of the Top 100 comedians of all time. “Having Kevin in Norfolk to be part of the Great American Comedy Festival will be a true honor,” said Paula Pflueger, chairwoman of this year’s festival. “Along with Brian Regan,Louie Anderson and all the other entertainers, it’s going to be a fantastic festival.”

Buy-Tickets-Now

Want to learn more? For more information or to buy tickets, go to www.greatamericancomedyfestival.com. Tickets can also be purchased locally at Insurance Associates in Norfolk.

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The ‘Funny Twenty’ to perform at Great American Comedy Festival in Norfolk

April 15, 2015
April 15, 2015

John Fugelsang co-hosted “America’s Funniest Home Videos” for two years and has acted on numerous television shows, including “CSI.” As a comedian, he’s made more than 20 appearances on HBO’s “Politically Incorrect” and has performed the U.S. Comedy Festival in Aspen and the Just for Laughs Festival in Montreal.

And where’s he going to be this June? In Norfolk for the 2015 Great American Comedy Festival presented by Nucor Steel. Fugelsang is one of the 20 stand-up comedians invited to take part in the eighth-annual festival set for Wednesday, June 17, through Saturday, June 20.

While the festival’s headliners bring name recognition and star power to the annual comedy event, it’s the 20 comedians who are the heart and soul of the festival, said Eddie Brill, the festival’s artistic director. That’s because the festival was created to pay tribute to the legacy of Johnny Carson, and Carson liked nothing more than to give comedians on the cusp of stardom a chance to perform on “The Tonight Show.”

In its own way, the festival seeks to do the same thing by auditioning and inviting 20 comedians to perform in Norfolk at the Johnny Carson Theatre, Brill said. This year, Brill said, was, once again, extremely challenging to narrow the list of invitees to 20. He conducted auditions in cities across the nation and reviewed video clips submitted by hundreds more wanting to be part of the Norfolk event.

In the end, he selected a group that he simply describes as “the funny 20.”

In addition to Fugelsang, here are the other 19 comedians who will be part of the festival:  Rob Haze, Costaki Economopoulos, Ryan Donahue, Jim McCue, Negin Farsad, Jim Short, Lary Reeb, Ryan Noack, Ed Driscoll, “Tony V”, Keith Lowell Jensen, Tony Deyo, Emma Arnold, Sarah Tiana, Ben Gleib, Jackie Kashian, Brad Wenzel, Andy Sandford and Maggie Maye.

Ten will take to the stage of the Johnny Carson Theatre on Thursday, June 18, and the other 10 on Friday, June 19. The top four from each night — as selected by a panel of comedy professional judges — will advance to the finals of the festival’s stand-up competition on Saturday, June 14.

Comedian Louie Anderson will serve as the headliner for the Thursday and Friday performances. Brian Kiley of Los Angeles — who won the professional stand-up competition at last year’s festival — will be the host for both evenings.

Want to learn more?

For more information or to purchase tickets, go to www.greatamericancomedyfestival.com or locally at Insurance Associates, 1900 W. Pasewalk Avenue

The Passing Zone to add variety-show element to festival’s comedy magic show

April 6, 2015
April 6, 2015

This year’s comedy-magic show at the 2015 Great American Comedy Festival promises to entertain and astound, hearkening back to the days of variety shows.

The festival kicks off Wednesday, June 17, with its annual comedy-magic show as a tribute to Johnny Carson’s lifelong interest in magic.

Richard Barrett, manager of the famed Comedy and Magic Shop in Los Angeles, again selected the lineup of performers for this year’s show.

“I’m thrilled to have so many world-class performers on this bill. We’ve got a really cool blend of magic and variety this year with The Passing Zone bringing something to the show that we haven’t presented before,” he said.

Scheduled to perform are The Passing Zone — made up of Owen Morse and Jon Wee — along with magicians Christopher Hart, Tina Lenert and Derek Hughes.

The Passing Zone is a top-notch comedy act that is enhanced by their juggling skills and other extraordinary feats, Barrett said.

“Jon and Owen are two headlining comedians that also happen to do things that you and I can’t do — their many Guinness world records prove that,” Barrett said. “They’re just an amazing act that will leave you with a giant smile on your face.”

The two were performing at the Comedy and Magic Club in Los Angeles when they were asked to perform on “The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson” in 1990. They became one of Carson’s favorites and were asked back to perform again.

Barrett said Hart is everything anyone can want in a magician.

“He’s funny, a little mysterious, charismatic and makes you ask, ‘How did he do that?’  He’s won just about every meaningful award for magicians,” he said.

Movie fans also may be interested in knowing that he played the disembodied hand known as Thing in the Addams Family movies.

“That’s a pretty cool credit,” Barrett said.

Lenert is revered in the magic community. She combines mime and magic in her “Maid in Heaven” act that has won countless awards including stage magician of the year from the Academy of Magical Arts.

“She’s a great storyteller and puts on a performance that is beautiful, heartwarming, and funny all at the same time,” Barrett said.

Lenert is married to magician Mike Caveney, who was part of the festival’s 2013 comedy-magic show.

Hughes, who will serve as the show’s host, is another familiar name. He performed in Norfolk at the 2012 festival.

“Derek is one of the rising stars in the world of magic. He is the guy that you will be discussing during your car ride home from the show — he’ll leave you in a state of wonder and disbelief,” Barrett said.

Hughes will also be leading magic classes, including card tricks, for students and adults while in Norfolk. More details on the dates and times for those classes will be available in the coming weeks.

festival plans ‘red carpet night’

April 6, 2015
April 6, 2015

Looking for a taste of Hollywood? The Thursday, June 18, performance of the Great American Comedy Festival may be for you.​

Prior to the 7 p.m. festival show in the Johnny Carson Theatre, the grounds of Norfolk High school will take on the appearance of a red-carpet event — literally.

From 5:30 to 7:00 p.m., local personalities will host the premiere, welcoming and interviewing those attending as they make their way to the theater. Car doors will be opened for guests as they arrive and paparazzi will be on hand taking photos — all to add to the glamour of the evening.

The first 100 people who arrive with tickets to the Thursday show and post a red-carpet selfie to the comedy festival’s Facebook page or Twitter account will be entered into a drawing for two free tickets to the Saturday festival show and an invitation to a post-show party to meet the comedians.

Louie Anderson to return for 2015 Festival

April 6, 2015
April 6, 2015

He liked Norfolk so much the first time that he’s decided to come back.

Comedian, author and actor Louie Anderson — who was a featured performer at the 2011 Great American Comedy in Norfolk — will be making a return trip this summer for the 2015 festival.

“He was so funny and great to have with us back in 2011. We’re very excited to have him again be part of the festival,” said Paula Pflueger, chairwoman of the 2015 event set for Wednesday, June 17, through Sunday, June 20.

Anderson will be the headliner for the festival performances at the Johnny Carson Theatre on Thursday, June 18, and Friday, June 19. Tickets for all the festival performances now are available.

Hosting the June 18 and 19 shows will be Brian Kiley, the winner of the 2014 professional stand-up competition at the festival.

Kiley, who, in addition to performing, also serves as a writer for Conan O’Brien, topped the field of 20 comedians last June. He also performed in Norfolk in December to open for Bill Engvall.

Comedian Brian Regan was previously announced as the headliner for the Saturday, June 20, festival performance.

Anderson has been described as one of the most versatile and successful comedians working in Hollywood today.

His big break came in 1984 with his debut performance for Johnny Carson on “The Tonight Show.”

“Every comic, especially from my era and before needed to be on Johnny Carson to be relevant. That’s the HBO. That’s the Comedy Central. That’s the YouTube of that time. Johnny was it,” Anderson said during his first appearance in Norfolk.

He went on to perform at standing-room-only crowds in Las Vegas, hosted for several years the “Family Feud” television series and is the author of several best-selling children’s books.

In 1995, Anderson put his creative energies to work on the Saturday morning animated series “Life with Louie.” The long-running series based on his own childhood and his life with his father won three Humanitas Prizes for writing on a children’s’ animated series, making him the only three-time recipient of this award.

Anderson said his comedy routine these days reminds him of his roots when he appeared on “The Tonight Show” that first time.

“I have a chance to cheer people up and have them forget about their troubles,” he said. “In this current world, that’s a great honor and a blessing.”

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Want to learn more?

For more information about the festival, go to www.greatamericancomedyfestival.com. Tickets for festival performances will be available for purchase online at the website or at Insurance Associates in Norfolk as of the afternoon of Monday, April 6.

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