BEST BETS: Comedy gone Wild at Schwartz Center

The laughs will come fast and furious Feb. 25 as the Schwartz Center for the Arts presents Comedy Live at the Schwartz.

Five comedians, Ryan Higgins, Denny Live, Skeet Carter, Jamal Dorman and J.V. Pearson, will perform in an evening hosted by North Philadelphia native Buck Wild.

Buck Wild, who got his name during his days as a break dancer, is a veteran comedian who has been delivering jokes for the last 20 years.

A graduate of Arizona State University who played on the college football team while earning a Master’s degree in business, got his start at the Laff House in Philadelphia in 1995 when he jumped on stage convinced that he was funnier than the comedian who was performing.

“The comedian was Michael Blackson and when I jumped on stage, he killed me,” he recalled earlier this week.

“He let me do my thing and then pulled me in the back later and said ‘You’re funny but you’re just not ready for the

North Philadelphia comedian Buck Wild will emcee Comedy Live at The Schwartz Feb. 25 at the Schwartz Center for the Arts in Dover. (Submitted photo)

stage yet. I took all that into consideration. He later became my mentor and the rest is history.”

The 44-year-old comic has opened for the likes of Kevin Hart, Steve Harvey and D.L. Hughley.

“They all have given me great insight into the business that I’ve carried through to today,” he said.

The business degree has helped as well.

“I’ve been in this business 20 years but it’s only been the last 10 years that I’ve started to figure things out. I just did

the Montreal Comedy Festival and know what it takes to get on “Def Comedy Jam” or Comedy Central. You’ve got to deliver content and continuity,” he said.

He says the key is to have material that everyone can relate to.

“It’s all timing and the ability to work with a different crowd, be it black or white or whatever,” he said.

“You don’t have to be from the hood to understand what it might be like. All it takes is you saying ‘I can see myself in that predicament.’ Like every guy has gone to a strip club and has run out of money and thought about taking the money off the ground before the security catches you.”

Being the opening act for more established comedians can be a “crazy job,” he said.

“When you come out, people might be thinking ‘Who is this guy?’ So not only does he have to kill it, he has to set the room at a temperature that is right for the comedian that they’re coming to see.

“You have to set the bar high but there’s really no pressure to do 15 minutes. The pressure is really on the guy that is doing the hour that the people are really coming to see.”

As he will do in Dover, the job of hosting the show is another task altogether.

“There are a lot more skills that go along with that. You have to be the opening act, the featured comedian and the headliner. If the previous act is not strong, you have to work that much harder to get them ready for the next guy and to give the audience their money’s worth,” he said.

But he says the Schwartz show should not have those problems as all five comedians are “really funny and hilarious.”

“You have something different for everyone. You have a white guy, a Jamaican, a Haitian, a Jewish person and a black Jew. It’s a great group we’re going to have in Dover,” he said.

His ties with Kevin Hart, another Philadelphian, run deep. He says he gave Mr. Hart his first break.

“I went to the owner of The Laff House in Philly and said you have to put this guy on stage. I said ‘He busts on me every day at the gym. He’s hilarious.’ And the rest is history,” he said.

The two are collaborating on a movie called “Road Trip.” It’s about a true event that happened to the both of them along with Mr. Blackson where they were stopped by a policeman in a stolen car and “I spent the night in jail.”

Buck is co-writing the script while Mr. Hart plans to star in it.

As for the future, the 44-year-old comedian hopes to land his own role in movies or television while continuing to do standup.

“My idol is Eddie Murphy. I wouldn’t be doing comedy if it wasn’t for him. I met him recently and it was a big thrill.”

Tickets for the Schwartz show, which is aimed at those 18 years old and above, are $25 to $30 and can be purchased by visiting schwartzcenter.com, calling 678-5152 or stopping by the box office at 226 S. State St., Dover.

Mardi Gras Mayhem

As we told you last week, The Schwartz Center for the Arts will present Mardi Gras Mayhem with the Philadelphia-based band Zydeco-A-Go-Go Saturday at 7 p.m.

The night will offer beads and event-themed food and drinks for purchase. Guests are encouraged to dress in their Mardi Gras finest.

Tickets are $20-$25 and are available by visiting SchwartzCenter.com, calling 678-5152 or dropping by the box office at 226 S. State St.

Battle bucks

Speaking of the Schwartz, Saturday night’s first Battle of the Schwartz lip-sync contest was an unqualified success.

The event, which pitted local dignitaries in a wild contest of talent and showmanship, was sold out weeks in advance and kept the Schwartz rollicking all night long.

Local physician Dr. Kenny Vu won the inaugural event and on Thursday it was announced that the contest raised $64,700 for the venerable theater.

Festival frenzy

News came recently on the return of two popular festivals to the area.

Tickets are now available for Fordham & Dominion’s sixth annual R2Hop2 Beer and Music Festival in the backyard of the brewery off Horsepond Road on April 22 from noon to 5 p.m.

This year there will be performances on the main stage by local blues band Barrelhouse, Loose Ties and Lovebettie, a Pittsburgh-based band which has gained popularity in this area in recent years. Nate McCormick will perform at the gate.

In addition to more than 10 beers on draft, there will be samplings from Harvest Ridge Winery and Painted Stave Distilling, Firkin tappings, photo booth, kids zone, face painting, keg tossing, multiple food options and dozens of local artisans.

VIP tickets are $50, which includes a T-shirt, R2hop2 glass, a reserved spot, a bottomless mug and a food ticket.

General admission tickets are $30, which is good for a R2hop2 glass and four beer tickets.

Designated driver tickets, for $20, give you unlimited Dominion soda.

Tickets and more information are available at the brewery or online at www.fordhamanddominion.com.

A date has also been set for the popular Smyrna at Night event.

This year’s townwide festival is set for Friday, June 23.

Last year’s Smyrna at Night featured 28 bands on 10 different stages.

The free, family-friendly event also spotlights food trucks, outdoor games, craft vendors, beer and spirits, restaurant specials and more.

While still in the early stages, festival organizer Jeremy Hebbel said, “I don’t believe we are looking to scale it down at all” in regard to this year’s affair.

Curtains close

This is the last weekend for two area plays, both by comedic author Neil Simon.

Mr. Simon’s “The Sunshine Boys,” presented by Milford’s Second Street Players will be staged tonight and Saturday night at 8 and Sunday at 3 p.m.

All performances are held at the Riverfront Theater 2 S. Walnut St., Milford. Tickets are $17 and can be purchased at brownpapertickets.com or by calling the box office at (800) 838-3006.

In the play, Al Lewis and Willy Clark are a pair of feuding vaudeville comedians who performed together for 47 years before finally calling it quits. A network genius then has the brilliant idea of reuniting the duo for a TV special about the history of comedy. Once the reunion is on, the sparks and one-liners start to fly with equal speed. But can Lewis and Clark put aside their differences long enough to collect one last paycheck?

Also this weekend, Kent County Theatre Guild presents the comic fable “Fools” tonight through Sunday at the Patchwork Playhouse, 140 E. Roosevelt Ave., Dover.

Today’s and Saturday’s shows are at 8 p.m. Sunday shows are at 2 p.m.

In this play, Russian hamlet has been cursed with chronic stupidity for 200 years and Leon’s job is to break the curse. No one tells him that if he stays over 24 hours and fails to break the curse, he too becomes stupid. But, he has fallen in love with a girl so stupid that she has only recently learned how to sit down.

Tickets are $16-$18 and can be purchased by calling 674-3568 or visiting kctg.org.

Now showing

New this weekend in theaters, Matt Damon stars in the thriller “The Great Wall 3D”; Charlie Day and Ice Cube pair in the comedy “Fist Fight”; and the suspense film “A Cure for Wellness” premieres.

On DVD and download starting Tuesday are the Oscar-nominated films “Hacksaw Ridge” and “Manchester by the Sea”; the acclaimed thriller “Nocturnal Animals”; and the comedy sequel “Bad Santa 2.”

Reach features editor Craig Horleman at chorl@newszap.com

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.