CVIndependent

Tue09222020

Last updateMon, 24 Aug 2020 12pm

(Editor's note: After one show, this comedy series has been discontinued.)

It may seem like nothing’s funny anymore—but producer/comedian Max Mitchell would beg to disagree.

Max Mitchell’s Comedy and Magic Show will make its debut this Friday, June 19, at the amphitheater at The River in Rancho Mirage. Boasting “the Coachella Valley’s hottest standup comedians and one cool magician,” the free performances are slated to be an ongoing thing, with shows on the first and third Friday of every month.

“It’s a live comedy show outdoors in an amphitheater in the middle of a mall,” said Mitchell. “There will be general seating and tons of room for social distancing. We hope people will dress up, get out of the house and come enjoy a fun night with some of the best local talent around.”

The lineup for June 19 includes Mitchell and fellow comedians Shann Carr, Kris Bossi and Kevin Davis, along with magician McHugh and Co. Subsequent weeks will feature different performers, although Mitchell and Carr will be regulars, along with two different comedians and possibly another magician.

Mitchell is a prolific producer and comedian. In the Coachella Valley, he has produced comedy shows at Oscar’s, AJ’s on the Green and Three Sixty North, as well as the Out for Laughs series at the Palm Springs Cultural Center. In Los Angeles, he has produced shows at Working Stage and has performed at the Comedy Store. On the road, he’s been seen at Second City Toronto, Yuk Yuks, Gotham in New York and other venues. He has also written several screenplays, stage plays and novels.

Local favorite Shann Carr has been making Palm Springs audiences laugh for a long time. Known as the gay man’s lesbian, Carr has been entertaining audiences for decades while tirelessly raising funds for local charities.

“I’m excited to get to tell stories and connect with people and connect them with each other, in a way that is powerful,” Carr said. “It’s something the pandemic had robbed us of—laughing out loud with friends. I’m jonesing to make a bunch of people laugh.”

Kris Bossi has been referred to as the desert’s unpredictable Snark Queen—a bow to her unapologetic candor and irreverent attitude.

The show is being headlined by Pennsylvania native Kevin Davis, who started doing comedy at 12 years old. After high school, Kevin joined the military. He later taught at the Marine Corps recruiter school, and began getting laughs from his students; he eventually became known as the Marine of Comedy. After a few years as a comedy-club promoter, Kevin started performing standup all over the world.

Mitchell recognizes that some may be reluctant to attend a comedy show during this new normal of social distancing and mask-wearing.

“The amphitheater is really large,” he said. “And behind it there is even more room on the mall’s plaza. It’s the perfect place to do shows under social distancing. We’ll be asking audiences to sit in their family groups and be six feet apart from any others. We are also asking audiences to wear masks. If they don’t, we may have to make them the butt of some of the comedy to get their attention.”

Mitchell admitted there are challenges to presenting a comedy show at a time when people have been isolated for months, mainlining news of sickness, death, protests and destruction.

“I’ve written quite a few new coronavirus jokes,” said Mitchell. “I try to stick to what I know. I’m gay, so I do gay jokes, marriage jokes, politics and generally make fun of this crazy place where we live. Kevin Davis is an African-American comedian who is so excellent; I’m leaving the protest jokes to him. The show is on Juneteenth, so that will make it particularly timely.”

The opportunity to do the show came up pretty fast, Mitchell said, so he didn’t have a lot of time to plan: Suddenly, he had a date—and started scrambling. However, he said he’s really excited about the lineup he was able to put together.

“My first call was to my pal Shann Carr, who's been doing standup comedy here for 20 years. We've done many shows together. Thank God she said yes,” said Mitchell. “Then I called people I know and have worked with before, so I know their work. Our magician, McHugh, is great and funny and seemed a perfect fit for this venue; I've worked with him before as well. Then I got in touch with Kris Bossi, whom I love. She's cool, tough and funny, and takes no prisoners. Kris referred me to Kevin Davis, who is a top comedian and tours nationally as a headliner for Improv comedy clubs. People are going to love this lineup.”

Mitchell reiterated that there’s plenty of room to social distance at the amphitheater at The River.

“Rest assured, this is the safest place to see a show in the valley,” he said. “And if enough people come, we will be at this venue for a long time to come.”

Max Mitchell’s Comedy and Magic Show premieres at 7:30 p.m., Friday, June 19, and will take place on the first and third Fridays of the month at the amphitheater at The River, 71800 Highway 111, in Rancho Mirage. Admission is free; please wear a mask. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/CoachellaComedy.

Published in Comedy

A chicken and an egg are in bed next to each other; both are smoking cigarettes. The egg turns to the chicken and says, “So, we now know the answer to that question.”

I have tons of these. But if you would prefer comedy that’s actually, well, funny, consider the Out for Laughs comedy series, coming to the Camelot Theatres each Thursday in February.

Shann Carr, a self-appointed “gay man’s lesbian” (and, full disclosure, a friend of the Independent), is co-producing the series. Each show will have a headliner, multiple entertainers and a different beneficiary.

“I have been doing a series of shows for over 30 years called ‘Out for Laughs,’” Carr told me during our recent chat. “Sometimes I do videos or film; this year in Palm Springs, I am doing a short run of live shows. Every week, there will be at least four acts. Most times, it’s three comedians and a magician. (Co-producer) Max Mitchell and I will host, and the magician (McHugh and Co.) will come and help with the transitions.”

Palm Springs is an easy place to hold these LGBT-themed shows, since Carr has lived in the city for 20 years. How did she wind up living in Palm Springs?

“I have been an out comedian since I was 19,” she said. “Palm Springs was that place in a gay bubble and has that resort mentality. And where else could a lesbian like me afford a house with a pool? It’s a great place! My house is making (me) money, and even (my) dog is doing commercials. Everyone is working!”

Carr said it was important to her for the series of shows to give back to the community.

“Pretty much everything I do, I give something to charity. It’s just a part of how I am made,” she said. “I have worked with these charities in some way, and I just try to spread the support around. … As a gay comic, I do not experience great amounts of wealth, but (the series) does my heart good. Fifteen percent of each ticket will go to the selected charity for the night.”

As for those headliners and charities:

• On Feb. 1, the headliner is groundbreaking trans comedian Ian Harvie; his show will benefit the Transgender Community Coalition. He has opened for Margaret Cho, has a one-hour special called May the Best Cock Win and has been on the award-winning show Transparent.

• Feb. 8 brings Alec Mapa; his show is benefiting Sanctuary Palm Springs. Called “hilarious” by Ellen Degeneres, Mapa recently was featured in his own Showtime special, focusing on the adoption travails that he and his husband have endured. Mapa gets around: He’s been part of RuPaul’s Drag Race, A Very Sordid Wedding and all sorts of other movies and television shows, including two Logo specials.

• Erin Foley will perform on the day after Valentine’s Day, Feb. 15; her show will benefit the Joy Silver campaign for the District 28 State Senate seat. Foley has been on Conan and her own Comedy Central special; she hosts the podcast Sports Without Balls, which has helped make her one of the most sought-after women in comedy.

• Concluding the series on Feb. 22 will be Jimmy James; his show benefits the LGBT Community Center of the Desert. He is an award-winning vocal impressionist with an amazing voice. He does Judy, Cher, Adele, Barbra, Elvis and so many others. He even does a duet … but it’s just him, doing two voices.

“It always freaks people out when I do it,” James told me during a recent phone interview. “Cher is one of my favorites; she changes the molecular structure of the room.”

James has a long history of performing in Palm Springs, he said.

“There are other places you can go that have so many tribute artists, impersonators and performers that I just don’t feel special,” he said. “I used to come to (Arenas Road bar) Streetbar on the last Tuesdays of the month to practice and see what worked and what didn’t. There was no judgment for me. It gave me the chance to develop so many things like Lana Del Rey and Adele. There’s a lot of vetting I have to do for each show. I love new artists and their music, but I work out of the Great American Songbook, too.

“This February will mark 35 years of performing. I started when I was 2,” James continued with a chuckle. “I have learned what my audiences want. … There is even an audience who doesn’t know I do this; they know me for my hit (song) ‘Fashionista,’ which is being played all the time, everywhere.”

The Out for Laughs comedy series takes place every Thursday in February at 7 p.m. at the Camelot Theatres, 2300 E. Baristo Road, in Palm Springs. Tickets for each show are $25 in advance, or $30 at the door. For tickets or more information, visit out4laughs.eventbrite.com.

Published in Comedy