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Arsenio Hall on his love for Cleveland, standup and the show that made it all begin

06/11/2018 13:16:20 PM

By Felicia Naoum

Arsenio Hall on his love for Cleveland, standup and the show that made it all begin

“Leave grandma and the kids at home.” –Arsenio Hall on his August 4 show at Hard Rock Rocksino/The Comedy Zone Northfield Park

No amount of scintillating Hollywood lights can make Arsenio Hall forget “The Land” he comes from. His pride for his hometown, Cleveland, Ohio, is so abundant that it almost swallows the Hollywood sign. No disrespect to the land of the stars, it’s just that Arsenio Hall comes from a different “land.”

There’s no doubt he’s comical. If you’ve followed him from the beginning, you know that’s a given. You will catch a few laughs throughout the interview. You will catch raw honesty, too. Arsenio admits to ditching his father’s dream of wanting him to become a pastor as well as touches on his departure from the show that catapulted this Clevelander to fame — The Arsenio Hall Show.

But more than funny, he’s passionate about all things Cleveland, especially the 44105 zip, the Cavaliers (way before LeBron brought home the Championship), his career, and his ability to get up and keep going. Now in his 60s, the famous talk-show host and comedian is feeling stronger than ever. Setbacks don’t set Arsenio back. Instead, setbacks arm Arsenio with what he calls his two weapons — stand-up and faith. With these, he’s home—both onstage and on Cleveland soil. As Arsenio reminds us of Dorothy’s famous line, “There’s no place like home,” he really is speaking about himself. For Arsenio Hall, there’s no place like Cleveland.

FN: How does it feel to be from Cleveland, Ohio and having made it “big” in the world of Hollywood?
AH: As a kid growing up in Cleveland, I always heard the term “mistake on the lake.” Funny term! I can handle a little self-deprecating humor. BUT, I love my native Cleveland, and I am proud being ONE of many stars here in Hollywood that rep The Land, and have helped to flip its image for outsiders. In the 90s, I saw video of a guy in another country, with an Arsenio Hall Show t-shirt on barking “woof, woof, woof!” I took the bark international! I’m proud to be from “the most LIT location in the nation.” No longer a “mistake.” It’s a new day. 44105, Holla.

FN: What inspired you to take the entertainment route after college?
AH: My dad was a Baptist preacher. The church was the family business and my dad wanted me to be a pastor, too. I inherited his oratory skills, but not his goodness, morality and ole’ fashion Christian discipline. So I took my Kent State degree, and headed to Hollywood. [Laughs aloud]

FN: I read a quote of yours discussing your struggles with self-confidence and being afraid to fail. How does Arsenio Hall garner his own self-confidence AND how does he handle failure?
AH: I returned to stand up a few years ago after being away from it for 18 years. Nothing is more complex than live stand-up comedy, and I wasn’t sure if the Stella within me could get his groove back. After being away from the mic, my self-confidence had dwindled and the wall of fear grows tall with time. But I love a challenge. I not only got my groove back, but I’m older, smarter and better than ever. Thank goodness. You also asked me “How I handle failure.” Stand-up comedy and prayer. Now I have BOTH of my weapons back.

FN: Take us back to the days of The Arsenio Hall Show. Do you miss those days? In your opinion, what element made the show last as long as it did?
AH: When you work night and day on the future, you never miss the past. I got late-night out of my system now. Nothing in life is greater than the gift and blessing of timing. I was placed into that show to give a voice and spotlight to artists who didn’t have one back in the day, but needed one, and deserved one. When the timing is right, life and comedy is magical!

FN: How did the cancellation of The Arsenio Hall Show affect you?
AH: The original show in the 90s was a vehicle I resigned from with a letter to Kerry McCluggage at Paramount. The CBS reboot more recently lasted a season — was picked up after the first season — then canceled weeks later over creative differences. In that more recent situation, everything happens for a reason. And the cancellation got my lazy, pampered ass back on stage.

FN: Some may call you a trailblazer for talk shows that followed, do you see yourself as one who set the stage early on?
AH: I don’t feel like a trailblazer. The people that I idolized as a kid growing up were true trailblazers. Sammy Davis, Jr. told me he jumped in a Vegas pool, and because he was black, THEY DRAINED THE POOL. That’s blazing!

FN: What can fans expect at your upcoming show at the Hard Rock Rocksino?
AH: When I come on stage, I don’t even know what to expect. That’s why I love it. They probably should expect to laugh their asses off about shit I could NEVER discuss on network TV. Leave grandma and the kids at home.

FN: How does it feel to be performing so close to home?
AH: Dave Chappelle and I came to Cleveland, as a surprise recently with Chris Rock (Total Blackout Tour). It was the best night ever. I’ve never received that kind of love, or heard that magnitude of laughter anywhere! “There is no place like home!” #Dorothy

FN: As a native Clevelander, how excited are you about them Cavs?
AH: You don’t have enough time and space to tell people how excited I am about the CAVS these days. I’ve been a fan since 1970! Coach Fitch, Thurman, Chones, Snyder, Bingo, Austin, and the old Cleveland Arena on Euclid. I’m proud. It was a long wait.

We’re proud, too…to have Arsenio Hall home at Hard Rock Rocksino Northfield Park August 4. Buy Tickets Here!

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BPA Announces Queen City Comedy Experience

06/11/2018 11:14:48 AM

BUY TICKETS!!!

Queen-City-Improv_1000_2.jpg

For less than $50, Charlotte comedy fans can enjoy a whole weekend of laughs courtesy of some of America's hottest comedians plus Charlotte's own comedic talent at The Queen City Comedy Experience Sept. 27 - 29 at Spirit Square.

Co-produced by Queen City Comedy, The Comedy Zone and Blumenthal Performing Arts, this one-of-a-kind event will highlight several dozen local and national acts from a wide variety of comedy genres. Fans can enjoy everything from the mainstage national acts to late night standup to comedy workshops for less than $50 with a Queen City Comedy Experience pass. The pass will admit buyers to every single show and experience at the festival.

Festival headliners include SNL alum Jay Pharoah and YouTube sensation Randy Rainbow, known for his spliced celebrity interviews and politically-inspired musical parodies. Comic Brian Regan, dubbed "the funniest stand-up alive" by Vanity Fair magazine, will also perform that weekend at Belk Theater.

"If it's comedy, we'll have it there," says event co-creator Cale Evans, a frequent local improv performer with groups like Now are the Foxes and Charlotte Comedy Theater. All in all, we're talking more than 25 hilarious shows, in three days, on four stages featuring the funniest performers in improv, sketch, stand-up and more!

Much of The Queen City Comedy Experience's focus will be on local acts, like the popular sketch comedy group Robot Johnson and the long-running Improv Charlotte. Another highlight will be a reunion of one of Charlotte's favorite sketch comedy teams, The Perch.

Spirit Square will be buzzing with comedy acts, free happy hour stand up shows, buskers, magicians, musical groups, comedic films, a live-taping of The Comedy Zone podcast, plus chances for budding performers of all ages to get some hands-on comedy experience. Two art galleries within Spirit Square will be transformed into mini clubs to add additional performance spaces to accommodate the large variety of offerings.

"We're also going to offer workshops that are both for seasoned professionals and performers and people who are new-who want to try improv or stand up for the first time," says Evans. These will be led by local artists as well as visiting performers from New York, Chicago and LA.

$50 Queen City Comedy Experience passes are on sale now! The pass includes seats for both Jay Pharoah and Randy Rainbow at McGlohon Theater, plus General Admission access to all the gallery and Duke Energy Theater shows.

If you're expecting the jokes your dad cracks on every family trip, buckle up. This is going to be one wild ride!

For a complete show lineup and details on how to purchase tickets, visit: BlumenthalArts.org/queen-city-comedy-experience or call our box office at (704)372-1000.

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Steve Martin and Martin Short’s Netflix Special Premieres Next Month

04/25/2018 08:53:35 AM

BY  APRIL 24, 2018 From SplitSider

martin-short-netflix

Back in February, Netflix revealed that it added a new comedy special from Steve Martin and Martin Short called Steve Martin and Martin Short: An Evening You Will Forget for the Rest of Your Life, and today the premiere date was revealed. Taped at the Peace Center in Greenville, South Carolina, the special is a mix of new material, musical sketches, and “conversations about their iconic careers, most memorable encounters, and of course, their legendary lives in show-business and standup” with music from The Steep Canyon Rangers and Jeff Babko. The special will make its Netflix debut on Friday, May 25th, just a few days after Tig Notaro’s new standup special debuts on the 22nd.

 

 

BIG ANNOUNCEMENT: Marty Short’s and my new @netflix special will be aired May 25th! “An Evening You Will Forget for the Rest of Your Life.”

I sure you thought, “I’ll bet it’s not a big announcement,” and now you have to eat your thoughts. Because it’s undeniably big. pic.twitter.com/kYjD0m0Qer

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A Podcast for Your Next Commute, Jog or Spare 30 Minutes

04/24/2018 09:43:06 AM

The Comedy Zone Podcast

Brian Baltosiewich started The Comedy Zone Podcast in May 2015 with his co-hosts comedian Will Jacobs and Sammi Jo Francis and their first guest, Bob Saget. (Yes, that Bob Saget … the dad from “Full House” was their first guest.) Every Friday they offer new episodes featuring all the A-list comedians who come through town – and they have a lot of fun with some of the local Charlotte comedians as well. According to Brian, “The great thing about our format is that there is no format. The conversation can literally go anywhere.”

Memorable Guests: Can you be any more memorable than Bob Saget? They’ve also had Gilbert Gottfried and Paul Rodriguez.

Listen here: The Comedy Zone Podcast

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Norm Macdonald Teams With Netflix for New Talk Show

03/12/2018 09:51:41 AM

Norm Macdonald Teams With Netflix for New Talk Show

'Norm Macdonald Has a Show' secures 10-episode deal with Netflix

By 

Norm Macdonald's popular podcast will head to Netflix as the former SNL comedian agreed to a 10-episode deal with the streaming service for a series simply titled, Norm Macdonald Has a Show.

"It's a talk show with Norm Macdonald as host, along with his trusty sidekick, Adam Eget, and one celebrity guest for each episode," Netflix said in a statement. "The show will deliver great and unexpected conversation, jokes and a behind-the-scenes look at Norm's world."

Macdonald's talk show is Netflix's latest foray into the genre after giving series to Chelsea Handler and Joel McHale, as well as coaxing David Letterman out of retirement for his once-a-month series My Next Guest Needs No Introduction. According to a press release, Letterman himself will serve as "location scout" on Norm Macdonald Has a Show; the former Late Showhost is actually a creative partner on the series.

A premiere date for the talk show has not yet been announced. On Twitter, Macdonald – Number 139 on Rolling Stone's list of the 145 Best SNL Cast Members – gave fans an inside look at how the Netflix deal went down.

 

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Shawn Wayans, Tommy Davidson, David Alan Grier bring 'Off Color Comedy' to Hard Rock Live

03/09/2018 09:03:25 AM

Image result for shawn wayans tommy davidson david alan grier

Off Color Comedy: In Living Color was a cultural phenomenon when it debuted on Fox in 1990. It was a bold, raw, raucous laugh fest with a majority black cast and a distinctive family feel.

It was, in fact , a family affair, led by Keenan Ivory Wayans who, with his siblings and hilarious friends -- among them David Alan Grier and Tommy Davidson -- created something historic every Sunday night.

Shawn Wayans remembers fondly his days on set. He was a teenage kid having the time of his life.

"The funnest, funnest, funnest thing I ever did was 'In Living Color.' That was just the most explosive laugh fest ever, period. It gave us headaches with laughter. It was thee most fun I ever had in this business. I was 19!" said Wayans.

"Everybody tore everybody up. And as funny as the sketches were on TV, what was happening behind the scenes was even funnier and most of the stuff that made it to TV started behind the scenes," he said.

Perhaps there will be some behind the scenes magic Saturday as three of the In Living Color cast members gather for a stand-up comedy show at the Hard Rock Live inside the Hard Rock Rocksino in Northfield.

Shawn Wayans, Grier and Davidson will perform in the first stop on their "Off Color Comedy" tour.

Does it presage a reunion of the show one day?

"I have no idea. For me, it's just getting together with my schoolmates and doing some fun gigs. Who knows, though. You never know," said Wayans, who has worked extensively post 'In Living Color' with his brother Marlon, who headlined at the Hard Rock Live in 2016.

Davidson hopes a reunion of the show happens and why not? If 'Full House' and 'Roseanne' and 'Will & Grace' can make a comeback, why not a landmark show like 'In Living Color?'

"If it was up to me, it would be back. According to Shawn, he's going to try to encourage Keenan to get this thing cracking. We don't move without him. He's the Professor Xavier of us all," said Davidson, whose most recent TV gig has been hosting 'Vacation Creation,' a kind of "Extreme Home Makeover" for family vacations.

Said Shawn Wayans:  "As far as 'In Living Color' goes, that would be a difficult show to pull off today. Back when we did it, you were able to do whatever you wanted to do. I don't know if that's where we're at anymore. If they let us push the envelope, you guys will get some fun stuff."

Until then he and Davidson and Grier will push the envelope for fun stuff in individual stand-up sets.

"What can people expect? What they always got. I'm sort of like the Rubik's Cube of comedy, color on each side no matter how you twist it. There will be good action like always. You'll get impressions. And there's a lot more depth going on in the subjects. And I can go from talking about Trump and his State of the Union address to if a dog will bite or not. I can show you the difference between a white guy hearing a gunshot and an old black man hearing a gunshot," said Davidson.

Wayans promises energy.

"You're going to see funny, honest, physical humor. Everything. I talk about everything," he said. "Is anything off limits? Yeah, stuff that ain't funny."

The Off Color Comedy Tour with Shawn Wayans, Tommy Davidson and David Alan Grier is at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Hard Rock Live inside the Hard Rock Rocksino, 10777 Northfield Rd., Northfield. Tickets are $39 to $79. Go to hrrocksinonorthfieldpark.com or call Ticketmaster at (800) 745-3000.

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wellRED: From Dixie With Love? is comedy for those who love all people, but also blowing shit up

02/22/2018 09:40:40 AM

wellRED: From Dixie With Love​ is comedy for those who love all people, but also blowing shit up.

by: Liza Mitchell

When one mentions intellectual comedy, it’s unlikely that your mind travels south of the Mason Dixon line. The comic trio of Trae Crowder, Drew Morgan and Corey Forrester are redrawing the boundaries of what it means to be smart and funny in the south.

wellRED: From Dixie With Love​ is comedy for those who love all people, but also blowing shit up. It celebrates everything great about the South. It’s about loving your neighbor whether you have the same religion, skin color, or sexual preference, so long as they cheer for the same college football. It is about leaving behind bigotr y but remembering the fried okra. The wellRED tour stops in Jacksonville Feb. 23-24 at The Comedy Zone.

Known for his Liberal Redneck video series, Crowder performed his brand of southern comedy throughout the Southeast before teaming up with his writing – and drinking – partners. Forrester first performed comedy at 16, lying about his age to get into an open mic night. His stand-up blends humor and common sense into an act as full of as many silly faces and goofy jokes as it is thought-provoking rants on society, culture and politics. Hailing from Sunbright, Tennessee, Morgan’s act has been described as “Mark Twain on acid.” He was raised by a preacher and a librarian, which explains his intellectualism and constant state of existential crisis.

“We basically all three cover very similar themes but in pretty different ways. Most of it comes back to our separate upbringings in the rural south. I didn’t really grow up in the church, which is definitely uncommon for where I’m from, but Drew’s daddy is a preacher so as you can imagine, Drew talks about Jesus/religion significantly more than me,” says Crowder. “Similarly, I grew up super poor, so I talk more about poverty-related subjects than the other two. Corey actually does as much if not more political stuff than me or Drew, weirdly enough. I feel very confident saying that if you like my videos, you will like our stand-up. It’s very different, but it all comes from the same place, ultimately.”

 

Crowder gained a following as the Liberal Redneck, a video series targeting such hot button topics as Black Lives Matter, net neutrality, the transgender restroom issue, gun control and his open disdain for the current presidential administration. While the videos are factual and insightful, they are ripe with colorful colloquialisms that you only hear down yonder.

“The Liberal Redneck character is really only a character in that it’s me cranked up to eleven. I mean if I walked around living my life like that character, I’d be pretty hard to be around,” he says. “But yes, I’ve always pretty much been that way, in that I come from a very stereotypically redneck background and I’ve always had left-leaning political beliefs. I was doing similar material onstage for years before the videos.”

The notion to shoot his first video was divinely inspired for the admitted atheist. Crowder wanted to make video but wanted to learn more about production and editing to avoid looking amateurish until he saw a viral video of “some preacher dude in North Carolina ranting and raving about perverts in the bathrooms.” The video racked up 15 million views.

“This video was literally just this redneck preacher man in the woods standing by his truck, just preaching fire and brimstone at his iPhone about this stuff. Literally just screaming hatefully,” says Crowder. “I saw that, and it was like a light bulb went off. I realized that if this guy was what I was trying to satirize, then I didn’t need to be all fancy. In fact, that would probably be a mistake. The best way to do it was exactly the way he did it: just go out back and yell at my phone. So that’s what I did. And I hope one way or another that preacher finds out that all of this stuff with me – totally his fault. Or I guess maybe Jesus’s fault. I’m still not 100 percent clear on how all that works.”

Crowder grew up in the deep rural south of Celina, Tennessee where he railed against the traditional southern ideals, preferring film and literature over the church. His dad owned a video store which inspired dreams of show business. “When I was a little kid that meant making/being in movies. Then when I was 12, I saw Chris Rock’s HBO Special Bigger and Blacker and it shifted specifically to ‘I want to be a comedian’,” says Crowder. “Over the years it has shifted to television, but it never went away.”

When it comes to his friends and family relating to his material, Crowder says it’s a mixed bag. “The ones that I’m truly close to, if they disagree with me, they still take the stance of ‘I don’t agree with what you say, but I’m proud of you for doing well’. For the record, many of the friends/family that I am close to actually do agree with me about much of this stuff and so there’s no real conflict there. But I mean yes, there are definitely some cookouts I am no longer welcome at, for sure. But by and large they aren’t the ones I would show up to anyway.”

Crowder relocated his family to California and he is still acclimating to the west coast, where he says his accent “is the reason people think I’m going to start throwing raccoons through trailer windows.” He’s getting used to palm trees over pine trees but there’s just something about the south that calls him home.

“You know that runny white queso dip at Mexican restaurants in the south? Far as I can tell, it doesn’t exist out here. I mean, I get that that means it’s not authentic Mexican and all that, but I grew up on that stuff and I miss it so bad,” says Crowder. “In all sincerity, the challenges haven’t been too great. I knew pretty much what I was getting into it. I do miss the south though. I miss the food and the music and the fall and how green it is. I miss a lot, and a lot of the time. I’ll be back though. No doubt about that.”

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The Comedy Zone, Explore Elkin bring laughs downtown

01/24/2018 10:32:41 AM

By Wendy Byerly Wood - wbyerly-wood@elkintribune.com

“Laughter is a stress reliever.” – J. Bliss

Around 200 people settled into Coley Hall at The Liberty Saturday night for some stress relief and a lot of laughs. The second installment of Explore Elkin’s Comedy on Main featured three comedians booked through The Comedy Zone.

“There’s not a lot to do in Elkin, and this is something different and it’s exciting,” said Ernie Dumas, who was attending the comedy show with a table of his family and friends.

He said he’s enjoyed similar shows in larger cities like Charlotte, Asheville and Boston.

He and his wife, Becky, learned about the comedy show through an email chain which they were part of by being members of the Elkin Valley Trails Association.

Becky Dumas said she was looking forward “to some good laughs.”

Ellen Pometto and her friend, Jodi Sebastian, also were looking forward to an entertaining show. Pometto won two free tickets through an Instagram contest Explore Elkin hosted, but she said they probably would have come if even she hadn’t won the tickets.

The nearly two-hour show started with a short welcome from Explore Elkin Chairman Jeff Eidson, and then Derek Blackmon, a comedian with The Comedy Zone, took over as emcee, also providing a few minutes of comedy to kick it all off.

Jason King served as the opening act, followed by J. Bliss as headliner. Both were booked through The Comedy Zone and had the crowd laughing for an hour and a half nearly nonstop.

Derek Blackmon, emcee for the evening, opens the Comedy on Main show for Explore Elkin with a few laughs of his own Saturday

Jason King, the feature act, shares humor with those attending Explore Elkin's Comedy on Main Saturday at The Liberty.

The Comedy Zone's J. Bliss entertains the crowd at Explore Elkin's Comedy on Main Saturday at The Liberty.

 

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Tom Segura headlines the Hard Rock Rocksino / The Comedy Zone

10/17/2017 12:57:43 PM

Segura at Hard Rock Rocksino / The Comedy Zone Northfield, OH

Cincinnati native Tom Segura -- low-key and highly hilarious -- is funny onstage and in "Your Mom's House," the podcast he does with his comedian wife Christina Pazsitzky. But don't try to engage him in idle chit-chat. He describes himself in his act as an awkward conversationalist.

He says in "Mostly Stories," his recent Netflix special: "God forbid I meet a tall person. Like, if you are over 6-foot-4, there is no way I'm not addressing it. I'm gonna be like, 'Wow you're tall, ha ha. Do you like basketball? I have a friend that's tall. '"

Then he addresses himself, saying: "Dude, you just told a grown man that you have a friend that's tall. What's next, like, 'My dad's super strong. I bet he's stronger than your dad.' "

In his "No Teeth, No Entry Tour," Segura will mostly steer clear of politically charged humor and instead share stories about his relationship with his wife and his toddler, and his visits to the doctor.

Comedian Tom Segura

The Comedy Zone Worldwide provides the comedians for the Hard Rock Rocksino. 

Contact them at 704-295-4242 and ask for Joel Pace or visit them online at www.comedyzoneworldwide.com when looking for comedians for your events

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TV Ratings: ‘Marlon’ Hits Season High in Total Viewers

09/11/2017 09:25:05 AM

TV Reporter@JoeOtterson

'Marlon' Ratings Hit Season High in

Marlon” continued its solid Season 1 ratings on Wednesday night for NBC, with the series hitting a new total viewers high, according to Nielsen overnight data.

The 9 p.m. episode of “Marlon” averaged a 1.3 rating in adults 18-49 and 5.5 million viewers. That beats the previous high in total viewers set by the series premiere (5.3 million), and matches the key demo record also set by the series opener. The 9:30 p.m. episode of “Marlon” drew a 1.0 and 3.7 million viewers, up in both measures from the 9:30 p.m. episode last week.

Earlier on NBC, “America’s Got Talent” (2.1, 11.7 million) — the most-watched and top-rated show of the night — was stable. After “Marlon,” “Hollywood Game Night” (0.7, 2.8 million) fell significantly in both measures.

 

On CBS, “Big Brother” (1.8, 6.3 million) and “Salvation” (0.5, 3.5 million) were both steady.

On Fox, the episode of “MasterChef” at 8 p.m. (1.1, 3.6 million) was even with last week’s ep in the same timeslot. The episode at 9 p.m. (1.3, 4 million) rose slightly in total viewers compared to last week.

ABC and The CW aired only repeats.

NBC won the night with a 1.3 and 6.4 million viewers. Fox was second in the demo with a 1.2, but third in total viewers with 3.8 million. CBS came in third in the demo with a 0.9, but second in total viewers with 4.3 million. ABC finished fourth overall with a 0.6 and 2.5 million viewers. The CW averaged a 0.2 and 774,000 viewers.

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