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Magic classes, Red Carpet Premiere, ‘Tonight Show’ clips and more!

May 29, 2015
May 29, 2015

There’s going to be plenty of magic taking place in conjunction with this summer’s Great  American Comedy Festival. And a different kind, too.

Sponsored by Nucor Steel, the comedy festival will again be offering magic and card  trick classes on its opening day — Wednesday, June 17 — and again on Friday, June 19. Taught by Derek Hughes, the professional magician who will host the Wednesday  evening “Magic & More” performance at the Johnny Carson Theatre, there are three classes  planned. On Wednesday, from 1 to 2:30 p.m., a “grab bag of magic” class for ages 9­13 will take  place at the Elkhorn Valley Museum auditorium in Norfolk. From 3 to 4:30 p.m., a “card tricks  with Derek” class for ages 14 and up will be held at the same location.

All magic class materials will be provided for those registering to take home with them.  The registration cost is $25 and there is a limit of 20 participants in each class.

Then on Friday from 4 to 5:30 p.m. at the Norfolk Area Chamber of Commerce, an “Up  Close with Derek Hughes” class will be offered for adults 21 and older. It will focus on “up  close” magic and card tricks. The cost to register for that class also is $25. To register, go to www.greatamericancomedyfestival.com. For more information, contact  Susan Warneke at 860­2500.

While those classes will feature actual magic, other parts of the festival will feature  events that will be magical, or special, in their own way.

Thursday: Red Carpet Premiere The festival will, literally, “roll out the red carpet” on Thursday, June 18, from 5:30 p.m.  to 7 p.m. in front of the Johnny Carson Theatre prior to that evening’s performance. Designed to have the feel of a Hollywood red­carpet event, all of the comedians and  talent participating in the festival, as well as local and area dignitaries, have been invited to  participate. They’ll be dropped off by limousines and town cars in front of the theater where local  media personalities will be on hand to interview them, take photos and broadcast live. Paige Pflueger, Miss Nebraska Teen USA, and radio personality Austen Hagood will host  the event and interview guests as they arrive. In case of inclement weather, the activities will take place inside the theater lobby. Members of Norfolk High School’s Panther Posse will be on hand to assist the public with taking and posting “selfies” to the festival’s social media outlets for a chance to win festival tickets to the Saturday, June 20, performance featuring Brian Regan, as well as the festival’s  private post­show gathering.

Friday: Johnny Under the Stars For those seeking to laugh along with Johnny Carson, the festival and the Norfolk Arts  Center is planning a free “Johnny Under the Stars” outdoor showing of video highlights from  “The Tonight Show” on Friday, June 19. The event will take place in the arts center’s outdoor garden and begin at 10 p.m. after the  festival performance at the nearby Johnny Carson Theatre concludes. In case of inclement  weather, the showing will take place inside the arts center. Saturday: Mingle with the comedians Following the Saturday, June 20, festival performance at the Johnny Carson Theatre,  Divots in Norfolk will host a post­show gathering starting at 9 p.m. Many of the comedians who performed at the festival are expected to attend, giving  Norfolk and area residents a chance to visit with them and relive that evening’s show.

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

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