Left to right: Cory Burket, Terall Blaylock and C.W. Smith share a desire to take the microphone and present stand-up comedy. - Photo by Jim Craven

Laugh it up for charity

What do a county commissioner, a children's pastor, a retired cop and a radio personality have in common? The compelling desire to be stand-up comedians.

Well, laughter is the best medicine, so when some local business and community leaders looked for ways to raise money for charity, an amateur comedy competition began to take shape as a likely remedy.

Nine amateur comedians — including Jackson County Commissioner C.W. Smith — will risk all when they take the microphone to offer original, G-rated comedy Saturday, May 22, in the auditorium at South Medford High School, 815 S. Oakdale Ave.

Smith says he'll tell stories from his childhood here in the Rogue Valley.

"I was born and raised here," Smith says. "For a while my parents lived in Los Angeles, and during the summers I'd stay with my grandparents on a little farm on Grant Road in Central Point. There were all kinds of things to keep a young boy occupied, but one year I received a BB gun. I became the scourge of the neighborhood, and I feel guilty about it to this day."

During that summer, the young Smith accidentally shot a BB into a window pane at his grandparents' house.

"I was so afraid I'd be 'switched' — the American version of caning that my grandparents were so fond of," Smith says. "I went from a Democrat to a Republican in that moment."

Others who will step up to the microphone include Brady Adams, former state senator and chairman and chief executive officer of Evergreen Federal Bank; radio personality Garth Harrington of the "Morning Express," a show that also featured his wife, Rosemary, and ran 15 years on KCMX AM News Talk; financial planner Larry Cogdell, whose financial planning show airs on KCMX AM; financial advisor Terall Blaylock; Dave Twitchell, a Grants Pass resident and retired Los Angeles police officer; Cory Burket, a children's pastor at Applegate Christian Fellowship; Kevin Gill, a member of Grants Pass Rotary and the Oregon Groundwater Association's board of directors; and Doug Gould, director of Church Bus Ministry at the Central Point Assembly of God.

"These men seem to have all been born to be stand-up comics," says the show's producer Rush Behnke. "They're eager to get up in front of the mic."

Proceeds from Saturday's Amateur Comedy Show will benefit Wilderness Trails, a nonprofit Christian-based camping ministry for at-risk and underprivileged youth in Southern Oregon.

Harrington's act will focus on the difference between men and women; Cogdell has been a magician since he was 10; Burket will do his characterization of Bubba, "your backwoods, down home, tell-it-like-it-is fella"; and Twitchell will talk about disarming police suspects with humor — saving himself and others possible injuries.

Each performer will present a five-minute act, and a panel of judges (including Grants Pass High School theater arts instructor Kate Skudstad and Casey Baker of Radio Medford) will be headed up by professional comedian Kris Vandehey.

Categories in the competition are the Judges' Choice Award, a People's Choice Award and Best Fundraiser. Each comedian will encourage audience members to donate extra dollars to the cause, and whoever raises the most money will win Best Fundraiser. Ticket holders may vote for the People's Choice winner.

Tickets cost $12 and are available at Medford and Grants Pass branches of Evergreen Federal Bank, Hubbard's Ace Hardware in Medford, Evangel Parable bookstores in Grants Pass and Medford, and at the door. Call 541-772-2892.

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