Local comedy event to feature laughs, breast cancer awareness
By Steve Furay
Special to the Michigan Citizen
Metro Detroit comedians will come together Oct. 23 for a special evening of laughs in support of the American Breast Cancer Foundation. This special edition of “What a Witty Wednesday” will feature some of the area’s finest female comedians along with music performances, beginning 9 p.m. at The Bullfrog in Redford,15414 Telegraph Road.
“What a Witty Wednesday” is a weekly showcase event for local comedians, hosted by Vaine Centric and Dana Lee. This edition of the show will feature Heather Jay, Jam, Tonya Murray and Samantha Rager, plus music performances by Mahogany Jones, Keys and Cydara.
Vaine Centric hopes the show will bring out both fans of the comedy and supporters of breast cancer awareness. “I thought it would be a good thing to put on a show that’s entertaining,” says Vaine. “If we do get people who’ve survived out to the show, to get testimonials (that would be great) — to have a good time while we’re putting the awareness out there.”
Though the hosts of “What a Witty Wednesday” say they always try to feature at least one woman performer, Dana Lee explains giving women an opportunity on this particular day is special for spotlighting their talent. “A lot of them are coming out just as strong as the guys,” says Lee. “Women in comedy haven’t been as prevalent as it should be, so I had to do something that showcases the entertainment.”
Metro Detroit’s comedy history is rich with talent, including celebrities like John Witherspoon, Tim Meadows, Robin Williams, David Allen Grier, Tim Allen, Gilda Radner, Dave Coulier and Lily Tomlin. These days, however, there are few local clubs to support the development of talent.
Vaine Centric and Dana Lee hope to change that.
“I want (the showcase) to be a stepping stone, like the Apollo,” says Vaine. “Apollo was the door opener for a lot of people, I want to be that for comedians in the city — the door opener for their careers.”
“(We’re) trying to give them a bigger voice and better place for them to showcase their talent,” says Dana Lee.
Heather Jay is a Detroit comedian and playwright who has been supportive of the local scene for many years. She is encouraged by the talent of comedians around her, and wants to see them have opportunities in a bigger spotlight.
“Detroit doesn’t have a formal comedy club, and that kind of hurts us because comedy lives in a club,” says Heather Jay, “that helps build the structure of our community. We have one in Livonia and we have one in Royal Oak, but we don’t have an urban one the way other cites do.”
Despite this lack of a Detroit city club, she explains one of her goals is to help create and develop spaces where local comedians can perform. “Its a few of us stepping up,” says Heather Jay. “I’m optimistic, I definitely think we’ll get our spot back and not let the people of Detroit forget that comedy does have a community in Detroit.”
Tonya Murray has been doing stand up for a year, finally getting the courage to step up to the microphone after beginning her career as a comedy writer. Conquering her fear of the stage was her first obstacle.
“I just fell in love with it, so for the last year and a half I’ve really enjoyed it,” says Murray. “It’s a scary but very fun thing to do, so I enjoy doing it and being of benefit.”
She explains other local talents have encouraged her to keep pursuing the craft.
“The Detroit comic scene is awesome, we’ve got really great comics in this town,” says Murray.
Lee explains Detroit comedians are typically very supportive of each other, creating a tightly knit community where everyone is encouraged to be themselves. With the “What a Witty Wednesday” on Oct. 23 in support of breast cancer awareness, she expects many people to come out for a great night of laughs and the opportunity to continue to build the network of local comedians.
“They really look out for each other,” says Lee. “A lot of comedians come to see their friends when they showcase, so we’ve gotten to meet a lot more (comedians) because we don’t have the same friends in common and we don’t run in the same circles.”