Comedienne Lorene Farnsworth says she's performed more times during the last six months that she's lived in the Rogue Valley than she did during the 28 years she lived in New York City.
"I moved to New York to become an actress," Farnsworth says. "But I couldn't find any jobs. I liked stand-up, though, and visited the comedy clubs a lot. One day I realized that I could make people laugh."
So, Farnsworth took a class from a comic named Lee Frank from Boston. Her first show took place at The Eagle Tavern on 14th Street and Eighth Avenue in New York City.
"I had five minutes in front of my classmates and their families," she says. "And I killed. People get into comedy for different reasons. I just like the jokes."
Farnsworth went on to perform in upscale comedy clubs in New York City, including Gotham Comedy Club, the Comic Strip and others.
"In order to perform at those clubs, you have to audition," Farnsworth says. "Then you have to wait for the regularly booked comics to finish. One night at the Comedy Cellar, I went on at 2 a.m. and performed to an audience of five drunken Russians."
In New York, some club owners also have what they call a "bringer show," Farnsworth says. If a new comedian wants to perform, he or she has to bring a given number of friends, pay cover and purchase a minimum of two drinks each.
"It was a glamorous life," Farnsworth laughs. "But I just didn't have enough friends."
Farnsworth gave it all up to move to Southern Oregon.
"You can see the sacrifice I made," she says. "And people ask me what I'm doing here, like it's a bad thing."
In Oregon, Farnsworth has performed at Chadwick's Pub and Ground Zero in Medford, the Mill Casino in Coos Bay and Lefty's, now defunct, in Salem.
She'll perform at 9 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 22, at Red Rock Italian Eatery & Barra, 17 W. Fourth St., Medford. The show is sponsored by Southern Oregon LGBT Community, Lez Just Get Together and Salon Vivid. Proceeds from the show will benefit the Maslow Project, a joint program between the Medford School District and Kids Unlimited designed to provide help to homeless teens.
Farnsworth is no stranger to charity work, either. While in New York City, she worked with a nonprofit organization called The Museum of Comedy run by Sally El'Cordry and performed at homeless shelters and hospitals.
"This show (at Red Rock) is for something good," Farnsworth says. "I had no idea there are so many homeless youths in Medford."
Admission to the show at Red Rock costs $5. Small gifts for teens are suggested, but optional. Call 821-1197 for more information.
- Comedians Charles Dorby and Dan Farley perform at 9 p.m. Friday, Dec. 21, at Ground Zero, 123 S. Front St., Medford. Admission costs $5. Call 779-4827.
- Phil Johnson and Keith Nelson perform at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Dec. 21-22, at Chadwick's Pub in the Rogue Regency Inn, 2300 Biddle Road, Medford. Admission costs $5. Call 282-2122.