Best Bets: Comedian Nevers brings the funny for Delaware Veterans Trust Fund

Zenneth Nevers mixes comedy with philanthropy in a way not often seen.

As head of the Nevers Foundation, Mr. Nevers’ charity helps children who are homeless, sick or victims of child abuse.

He’s also a standup comedian, performing all over the country.

The charity came first and then the jokes followed. But the two are connected.

Comedian Zenneth Nevers will perform his standup act March 6 and 7 at the Smyrna Opera House to benefit the Delaware Veterans Trust Fund. (Submitted photo)

“I’ve always been this idiot with a happy disposition. But once I started this charity, I got a lot of pressure from social media to tone it down. They said I shouldn’t joke about the children or much of anything really,” he explained this week from his home in Orlando, Florida.

“One of the board members suggested that I should become a comedian so the world wouldn’t take me so seriously and I could just be this comedian who also has a charity.”

His intention was to do a one-off recording of a comedy act that could be played at functions. But he liked it too much.

“So I started to figure out how I could do both,” he said.

Seven years ago today was the anniversary of his first foray into comedy and he has now been doing it full-time for just over a year now.

Mr. Nevers brings his comedy act mixed with motivational speaking to the Smyrna Opera House March 6 and 7 to benefit the Delaware Veterans Trust Fund.

While proceeds from the show will go to the trust fund, Mr. Nevers’ paycheck will go to his foundation.

In his act, Mr. Nevers talks about his Latin upbringing, his family and other observations. And he’s clean — for the most part.

“I’d say what I will be doing in Delaware is PG-13. It’s TV safe. I don’t use any profane language but there might be a bit of innuendo that kids wouldn’t get anyway. If they do, their parents aren’t raising them right,” he joked.

Dave Skocik, president of the Friends of Delaware Veterans, the fundraising arm of the Trust Fund, says Mr. Nevers’ clean humor is one of the reasons that he booked him for the two benefit shows.

“I reached Zennith Nevers through a website called gigmasters.com that someone recommended. I posted a brief note that I was looking for a clean comedian who didn’t do political or controversial material and who was willing to perform at a discount rate to assist military veterans,” he said.

“Zennith was one of four who responded from across the East Coast within an hour of the posting. I researched each of them and Zennith was the one who most appealed to our needs. Based in Florida, he noted he was slated to provide a motivational speech in Delaware around the time of our event and provided a great price, not only for one performance but also for a second on the following evening.

“The next challenge was finding a venue that would rent their facility alone, without including a meal. The sixth call was to Brian Hill, the managing director of the Smyrna Opera House who had both March 6 and 7 available due to a cancellation.

“Mr. Hill was familiar with the Friends of Delaware Veterans, our pro bono organization of veterans who raise money for the Delaware Veterans Trust Fund under the auspices of the Commission of Veterans Affairs. He also provided a discount and has been advertising the event via his website and social media. I feel blessed.”

While Mr. Nevers runs a charity and does standup comedy, he is also a motivational speaker.

Five years ago, he was involved in a motorcycle accident and technically died for 90 seconds. Not only did he suffer physical injuries — broken ribs and collapsed lungs — but he suffered serious brain damage in the incident.

His physical injuries could heal but his brain damage affected him the most, especially when it came to his standup comedy.

“I struggled to remember my jokes. My timing was off. Here was something that I worked so hard at for the last two years that was going down the tubes,” Mr. Nevers said.

“Spoiler alert. I made it and learned to learn to live with my brain damage. I think my happy disposition and uplifting personality really helped me through it. And it wasn’t that much of a jump of logic to take my standup comedy and also give motivational talks.”

Smyrna Opera House Managing Director Brian Hill, left, and Dave Skocik, president of the Friends of Delaware Veterans, the fundraising arm of the Delaware Veterans Trust Fund, meet to discuss plans for the March 6 and 7 comedy show to benefit the fund. (Submitted photo)

In these talks, he speaks about achieving happiness, building mental toughness and overcoming adversity.

Believing that if everyone made a small difference in life, the world would be better off, Mr. Nevers, who will turn 43 years old when he is in town on March 7, stresses that you don’t have to be rich, religious or famous to start a charity or foundation.

“I take a lot of pride that I started a charity when I had almost no money,” he said.

His foundation assists homeless children by getting them vaccinated or giving them toys and school supplies. They throw parties for children in the hospital and they make sure that former victims of child abuse get the care they need.

They have also gone to impoverished countries to help children but mainly help care for kids in the Central Florida area.

He’s also looking forward to performing in Delaware to help the trust fund, which assists local veterans in financial emergencies.

Tickets for the show are $35 and available online at the Smyrna Opera House website at www.smyrnaoperahouse.org and clicking on the events link for March, or by emailing admin@smyrnaoperahouse.org or calling 302-653-4236.

The Smyrna Opera House is at 7 W. South St.

Friends of Folk twinbill

The Delaware Friends of Folk has two events planned for this weekend.

As we told you last week, they will present the next event in their free 2019-20 Old State House concert series, inside the Old State House on The Green in Dover Friday night at 7:30.

This show features international lutenist Ronn McFarlane. The Grammy-nominated lutenist strives to bring the lute – the most popular instrument of the Renaissance – into today’s musical mainstream and make it accessible to a wider audience.

Since taking up the lute in 1978, Mr. McFarlane has made his mark in music as the founder of Ayreheart, a founding member of the Baltimore Consort, touring 49 of the 50 United States, Canada, England, Scotland, Netherlands, Germany and Austria, and as a guest artist with many orchestras including The Bach Sinfonia, The Oregon Symphony, and The Indianapolis Baroque Orchestra.

Acclaimed lutenist Ronn McFarlane will perform Friday night at the Old State House on the Green. (Submitted photo)

He has toured throughout the United States, Canada and Europe with the Baltimore Consort and as a soloist. Mr. McFarlane was a faculty member of the Peabody Conservatory from 1984 to 1995, teaching lute and lute-related subjects.

Seating for tonight’s show is limited.

On Saturday, Delaware Friends of Folk will present their monthly coffee house concert in the Bennett Chapel at Wesley College, corner of Division and North Bradford streets in Dover, beginning at 7:30 p.m.

Admission is $7 for members of Delaware Friends of Folk, $10 for non-members, teens are half-price, and those 12 and under are admitted free. Fresh-brewed coffee, baked cookies and other snacks will be available.

This event features harmonica master Bob Beach along with guitarist Paul Wilkinson.

Mr. Beach has been a working professional musician for more than 40 years, adding harmonica, flute and vocals to a broad scope of genres.

A volunteer at the Philadelphia Folk Fest since 1998 Mr. Beach has also performed there many times and leads the official campfire open mic each year. As a sideman he has recorded or performed with both local and national acts such as; Ollabelle, Langhorne Slim, the Avett Brothers, Pat Wictor, Beaucoup Blue, and many more.

Mr. Wilkinson has been performing for over 15 years. His musical instincts are founded in the charisma of Taj Mahal, the subtlety of Mississippi John Hurt, and the omnipresence of Bob Dylan in his life.

Opening the evening will be New Castle County musician Boxturtle Bob.

Daytona 500 Watch Party

Start your engines. Dover International Speedway will hold a Daytona 500 Watch Party on Sunday.

The event is free and will be held inside the Fire & Ice lounge in Dover Downs Hotel & Casino.

Doors open at 1 p.m. and the race will start at approximately 2:30 p.m. The broadcast will be shown on Fire & Ice’s 20-foot high-definition movie projector screen in the lounge behind the bar, as well as many of the dozens of HD TVs above the bar area.

Prize drawings, Dover International Speedway ticket giveaways and more will be available. Food and drink specials will be offered.

The Monster Mile is hosting two NASCAR tripleheader weekends in 2020, on May 1-3 and Aug. 21-23.

Now showing

In theaters this weekend, is “Sonic the Hedgehog” with Jim Carrey; a horror remake of “Fantasy Island”; the Will Ferrell-Julia Louis-Dreyfuss comedy “Downhill” and the romantic drama “The Photograph.”

On DVD and download starting Tuesday is Tom Hanks in the Mr. Rogers film “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” the acclaimed comedy “Jojo Rabbit,” the war film “Midway” and “21 Bridges.”

To share news of your entertainment group, venue or event, contact Craig Horleman at 741-8224 or chorl@newszap.com.