A good night for a laugh at Genesee
BLT, aka Bryant Lee Turner
‘Best of the Midwest Old School
Genesee Theatre, 203 N. Genesee St., Waukegan
8 p.m. June 30
$15 in advance; $20 at the door
(847) 263-6300. www.geneseetheatre.com
For tickets, call (800) 982-2787 or see www.ticketmaster.com
Updated: June 26, 2012 9:34PM
“When you’re out there grinding every day, sometimes you want to just kick back and relax and say, hey, look here man, I need someone to make me laugh, right now.”
That’s philosophy to get through the day with from Tio Hardiman, a South Side Chicago native who is best known as a community activist and the director of the CeaseFire Initiative program for the Chicago Project For Violence Prevention. His work was recently showcased in the award-winning 2011 documentary “The Interrupters,” from Steve James and Alex Kotlowitz.
“Community leaders and peacemakers also need an outlet as well,” Hardiman explained. “Comedy just happens to be my outlet. I’ve promoted over 100 comedians since 1996.”
He’ll be promoting — presenting, actually — a whole group of them at the “Best of the Midwest Old School Comedy Jam” at 8 p.m. this Saturday at the Genesee Theatre in Waukegan.
He’ll turn over the stage to such Chicago-raised comedy veterans as headliner Kenny Howell, Alex Ortiz of the Latin Kings Of Comedy, WGCI’s Morning Riot deejay Tony Sculfield, the singularly named Charles, and BLT, the King of Clean Comedy, who serves as host for the evening.
Hardiman defines Old School comedy as the laughs that grow out of talking about growing up in the neighborhoods back when people knew their neighbors. “You’re going to get a full evening for a discount price and everyone and their mothers needs to come on out. I took the prices down because this is my first show at the Genesee Theatre,” he said.
This production is, in part, a fundraiser for the Family First Center of Waukegan, located on the same street as the venue where the show will take place.
“I like the mission of the Family First Center and what they are trying to do accomplish teaching the community to stop the violence. I thought it was a perfect fit to try to support their efforts to maintain strong programs there,” said Hardiman, who lives in Hillside.
The comedy show also pays tribute to the memory and contributions of the late Illinois State Representative Eddie Washington, who died in 2010.
“He was a strong supporter of everyone in North Chicago and Waukegan and he was a personal friend,” said Hardiman. “I respected the guy so much that I wanted to give something back.”
Not the sandwich
Another Chicago standup, BLT, will serve as host for the evening. Bryant Lee Turner is his actual name, so they’re his initials, not his lunch.
“I do eat bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches from time to time but it’s not my favorite sandwich,” said Turner, who lives in Lansing.
Also known as the Minister of Laughs, BLT is a recovering alcoholic and addict who turned his life around and recorded the live DVD “Thank God For Laughter” last year.
The show will be one of good laughs, BLT promised. “It’s not just being funny or degrading to anyone. When it is all said and done, you know you are going to get more than just hearing some people cussing, like it (sometimes) is today.”
BLT is himself a fan of the rest of the show’s lineup.
“Kenny Howell tours with Mike Epps. His comedy combines quick wit with old school values. He talks about his upbringing and being on the street,” he said.
He also noted that “both Kenny and Tony Scofield had one-hour TV specials with BET Comic View. Tony takes day-to-day life and makes it humorous. And Alex Ortiz — his comedy is about growing up in a strict family and just trying to be happy.”
It’s going to be one of those nights to feel good, BLT promised.
“If you want to laugh, you need to be at this show,” he said. “I’m going to take you back to when you had a good life and all you had to do was make up your bed and clean up your room and then go outside and play.”