Home-grown laughter

Published 11:30 am Friday, May 23, 2014

Benton Harbor native Iris Guidry, a.k.a Ms. Gee, will be bringing several comedians back to her hometown for a show at the Mendel Center on May 24. (Submitted photo)

Benton Harbor native Iris Guidry, a.k.a Ms. Gee, will be bringing several comedians back to her hometown for a show at the Mendel Center on May 24. (Submitted photo)

BENTON TOWNSHIP — The “buy local” trend has picked up steam in the last couple of years. Michigan manufacturing is making a come-back, and locally-grown produce is a sought-after commodity. So, why should comedy be any different?

With that idea in mind, Benton Harbor native, Iris Guidry — aka Ms. Gee — is bringing a crop of Michigan comedy and music to the Mendel Center’s Hanson Theater on Saturday, May 24.

“My goal is to promote local comedians,” said Ms. Gee, who recently graduated from the American Comedy Institute in New York. “We’re sampling this format to see if the community is receptive to this style of show. If this works out, we’ll move to bring bigger, well-known comedians to the area.”

Doors will open at 7 p.m. with Kalamazoo DJ Chuck D warming up the over 21 crowd.

“You can’t have a comedy show without some music,” Ms. Gee said. “He’ll be playing music and teaching the hustle and other dances before the show. Then, the show starts at 8 p.m., and it will be 90 minutes long.”

Hosting the comedy show will be Jerry Donovan, a Grand Rapids-based comedian who performs regularly in South Haven.

“He has a very impressive record. He’s performed at the world-famous Caroline’s in New York City,” said Guidry, who is producing the show. “He’s gotten national attention from NBC News, and he’s worked with Kurt Russell, Jason Segal and Larry ‘The Soup Nazi’ Thomas. He’s also been featured on Comcast’s ‘On Demand.’”

While Guidry has worked with the other comedians on the bill, she met Donovan by enquiring at Czar’s 505 in St. Joseph. He is known for a rapid-fire delivery and quick wit that he describes as “clean but edgy.”

Guidry will be the first comedian featured in the show.

“I’m the baby of the group,” Guidry explained. “The ‘Waves of Laughter’ title for the show comes from the idea that we’ll present different levels — or waves — of comedy. Each comedian gets bigger. Also, since the venue is on Lake Michigan, we decided to go with the ‘waves’ theme.”

Over the course of the evening, Guidry plans to give two up-and-coming comedians the chance to try their jokes out on the stage.

“I also plan to have two unnamed artists from Benton Harbor come up on stage for 2 to 3 minutes each, just to give them some exposure and the experience of being on stage,” Guidry said.

Mary Ann De Moss, hailing from Royal Oak, Michigan, will also take the stage on Saturday evening.

“Mary Ann and I have worked together in the past. She’s very comedic, edgy, and fun” Guidry said. “She’s been mentoring me. She’s performed nationally, and she’s in very high demand. Her comedy really has mass appeal.”

With 17 years of experience performing on the local, national and international comedy circuit, DeMoss’s “clean” brand of comedy has been featured on “BET Comic View” and “Comcast Comedy Jam Live.”

Finally, headlining the show will be nationally-known Marcus Combs. And, while Combs, DeMoss and Guidry have performed together in the past, this will be their first time bringing their show to Benton Harbor.

“Marcus Combs is originally from Chicago, but he has a large following in Benton Harbor, Indianapolis and Chicago,” Guidry explained. “He’s on ‘Comic View,’ and he’s been on ‘Def Comedy Jam.’ He’s just returned from Amsterdam, and after this show, he’ll be going to the Miami Festival. He’s a very funny guy.”

More information about this home-grown comedy show is available at www.lmcmainstage.org/other-events/#sthash.5dpgwtBp.dpuf. Tickets are $25, and they can be purchased through the website or by calling the box office at (269) 927-1221.