Posted on Wed, Mar. 08, 2006
Local comedians’ resolve is no joke
New venue allows local amateurs and professionals a place to tune up their acts
By Janice De Jesus
CONCORD – Carolé Acuña expertly raises one eyebrow and with her chin up, she balances on a three-inch stiletto heel.
Suddenly, the comedienne slumps, lowering her foot and eyebrow simultaneously as she delivers her punch line on stage in front of a laughing audience.
When Acuña jokes about a day in her life as a flamenco dancer, she relies on her signature animated and physical style using her lithe dancer’s body as she talks about her favorite topics — her Spanish heritage, flamenco and her mother.
And people don’t have to travel too far to hear her jokes. Recently, she’s been performing her comedy routine closer to home like many amateur and professional comedians who now count Cue Productions in downtown Concord every Wednesday night as one of their main Bay Area stops.
Acuña, who performs flamenco at the venue regularly, thought the newly renovated location would be perfect for stand-up comedy night and organized the event with the help of comedian friends from the San Francisco Comedy College.
“Concord can really benefit from this live art form,” said Acuña, 25, a Pleasant Hill resident, and also the show’s host. “Contra Costa County needs a nice arts place people can go to. Berkeley and San Francisco have these types of venues, but we’re kind of deprived of those around here. It also gives comedians a nice place to perform.”
Most of the comedians attend San Francisco Comedy College and use the Concord venue as a practice run. Every comedian, amateur or professional, needs an audience. Comedy night in Concord gives comedians that much needed break, she said.
Stand-up Comedy Night in Concord drew up to 30 audience members when it debuted last month. Comedian Rich Stimbra, who helps book weekly acts, said he picks a lot of students from the college because he knows their work first-hand.
“This is a chance for the neighborhood to support the performing arts and catch up-and-coming talent before they become stars,” said Stimbra, who plans to teach comedy classes this spring at Cue Productions.
Each Wednesday, an average of seven to eight comedians, from the East Bay and San Francisco, are given about 10 minutes to joke about relationships, their cultures, where they live and “points of view of how we see the world,” said Stimbra, who lives in Oakland.
Acuña is one comedienne who feels right at home on stage after performing in dance concerts most of her life. So she decided to use her second natural talent — making people laugh.
“My whole life I’ve always been known as the girl who made funny faces,” Acuña said.
Being voted class clown in her graduating class at Ygnacio Valley High School confirmed a skill she initially didn’t realize.
“I really didn’t know that people perceived me as funny,” she said. “I’d always ask, ‘Why are you laughing?’”
So three years ago, she enrolled at the San Francisco Comedy College to hone her skills. She has since incorporated her dance background into her comedy routines, a skill that she believes makes her stand out among other comedians.
Facial expressions and body movement — all of which come natural to her — come in handy when delivering a punch line, she added.
To keep her routine fresh, Acuña taps on skills she learned from acting classes. Having a venue at the comedy college in San Francisco as well as one in Concord gives comedians a chance to perform in front of a supportive audience, she said.
“Doing comedy in front of a group of comedians is different than doing a routine in front of a regular audience because comedians are concentrating on how to help you,” Acuña said. “The key to getting better is stage time, whether it’s an audience of two or three or a sold-out crowd.”
Scotty Fell, who started his comedic career five years ago, had also been told he had a knack for turning seemingly mundane events into humorous stories.
In his comedy routines, Fell, a San Ramon resident, talks about topics that people can relate to — being overweight and short, dating woes, family issues and eating.
“(Performing stand-up comedy) is something I’ve always wanted to do since high school,” said Fell, 32. “Being insightful and opinionated pretty much helps.”
People need laughter in their lives, Acuña asserted.
“It is like medicine for your soul,” she said. “Comedy makes light of many hard situations and that is why it is very therapeutic.
“Through comedy, we will show life through our own eyes and maybe it will help people out with their own lives,” she said. “Even if it’s looking at a lawn mower differently or adopting a funny saying, the world can be perceived in so many different ways. We are here to spread the funny bone.”
Janice De Jesus can be reached at 925-682-6440, ext. 14, or email@example.com.
LAUGH IT UP IN CONCORD
• WHO: Local comedians
• WHAT: Stand-up Comedy Night
• WHEN: 8 p.m. every Wednesday night
• WHERE: Cue Productions, 1835 Colfax St. at Willow Pass Road, Concord
• COST: $5 at the door
• INFORMATION: Call 925-687-4220 or visit sfcomedycollege.com