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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 Bob Stromberg Comedy Show at Johnny Carson Theatre

April 15, 2015
April 15, 2015

Bob Stromberg is a story teller. A physical comic with a background as a mime.  “Making people laugh is all I’ve done for 40 years.”  says Stromberg  ”And I’m so looking forward to performing in Norfolk.”

Stromberg is set to take to the stage of the Johnny Carson Theatre in Norfolk on Sunday, June 14, at 7 p.m., as a prelude to the opening of the 2015 Great American Comedy Festival.

Being able to perform in Carson’s hometown will be a special treat, Stromberg said. “That person we saw on TV — his Midwest sensibility — I loved that guy. I would have loved to have sat down with him,” he said.

Stromberg said he grew up in a small town in Pennsylvania. “I’ve always had this natural inclination to make people laugh. I would have been the class clown in school, but my father was the principal,” he said.

He’s turned his interest in comedy into a career that has spanned about four decades of stand-up comedy performances, as well as writing books and appearing on TV shows as well as theatrical productions.

The Los Angeles Times has described him as a “triple jolt of inspired craziness,” while the Chicago Sun-Times called him a “mesmerizing physical comedian.”

But for those attending his 90-minute performance in Norfolk, it won’t be just stand-up comedy. Stromberg’s show also features segments involving shadow puppets. Stromberg said making shadows on a screen may sound a bit corny to some, but he uses the medium to tell funny stories that delight the audience.

“They’re pretty amazing shadows, and it’s been one of the things in my career that I get requested to do all the time. In fact, sometimes I get requested to do shows where I just do the shadows,” Stromberg said.

His act is appropriate for and comfortable with all audiences, he said, from school-age children to grandmas and grandpas. “I always tell people, if you’re coming as a family, bring your children along. They will have a ball,” Stromberg said. “People ask me if it’s hard to do clean comedy. It’s easy to be clean, but you have to be good to be funny.”

His performance is being sponsored by the Norfolk Daily News and Norfolk radio stations WJAG, 106 Kix and Lite Rock 97.5. Part of the proceeds from ticket sales will go to the Norfolk Area Good Neighbors program.

General admission tickets for adults and children are available online at www.greatamericancomedyfestival.com or at The Abbey and Insurance Associates in Norfolk.

“I’m thankful for every single booking I have. I’m so looking forward to being in Norfolk,” he said.

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, Gregg Rogell, 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.

New comedy Showcase shows set for February

December 14, 2014
December 14, 2014

The Comedy Showcase is set for Thursday, Feb 5 in West Point at the West Point Community Theatre and Saturday, Feb 7 in Norfolk  at Divots Conference Center.

Show time is 7:30 pm for both shows.  Tickets are $20 + fee.

Tickets go on sale the week of December 15.

Check back for more information and to purchase tickets.

 

 

 

Christian comedy performance in Norfolk canceled

September 10, 2014
September 10, 2014

Due to unforeseen circumstances, the Christian comedy performance by Bob Stromberg that was planned for Sunday, Sept. 14, in Norfolk has been canceled.

Stromberg had been scheduled to perform at the Norfolk Junior High theater this weekend as part of a joint performance sponsored by the Great American Comedy Festival and the Norfolk Ministerial Association.

All those who had purchased tickets in advance will receive a refund.

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.
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