Taylor Mason with SinbadI just played a small part in a new online/streaming video series. The "Pure Flix Comedy All-Stars" will be available sometime in mid-February, and it was a blast to be part of such a cool event. Show business is as much about the "business" part as the "show" part, and the sooner people in the creative arts figure that out, the sooner they seem to become successful. Comedian Tommy Blaze is a good example. He's defined "successful stand-up comic" for some 25 years, delivering heat-seeking punchlines across the USA and appearing on a myriad of television programs and in major motion pix. He's moved from comedy to acting and now into production, as the "Comedy All-Stars" video is a vision he shares with Chris DiPetta (longtime comedy producer and booker) and the folks at Pure Flix. Pure Flix is most well-known for its hit movie "God's Not Dead," (and the inevitable "GND2") and is part of the "Christian" entertainment mix that has become very popular, even among the players in Hollywood. Note: the "Comedy All-Stars" are not all so much Christian as they are "clean," because we all know that Christians would NEVER use profanity, even for "artistic expression." With this comedy video, Pure Flix focuses on the family market, and they may have their finger on the pulse of an untapped audience. Enter Mr. Blaze with a thorough working knowledge of his craft and the technical aspects that go into comedy, plus a lifetime of experience and all the contacts to boot. Which includes an endless number of friends/acquaintances and fellow performers. He writes, he executes, he performs and still, after all these years, makes things happen. I got to be a part of this brainchild. It was a throwback - while also a look into the future - and it really worked. There were some 14 comedy acts on the first evening of video which took place at the gorgeous Clayton Center in Clayton, North Carolina. Hosting these first four segments was Sinbad, a singular icon in entertainment and, like Blaze, a successful/killer live performer. He drew an amazingly diverse audience, matched only by the multi-racial, multi-generational comics who performed on stage. That bucket list of talent includes Mary Ellen Hooper, Dwight Slade and Dale Jones, some of the funniest and most-seasoned people in comedy - all of whom deserve their own sitcoms or movies or platforms because they are brilliant. Some of the younger performers, Mia Jackson, Terri Moore and Chase Anthony, looked like they'd been born on stage and each brought down the house, making me think, "I'm sure glad I don't have to follow them." Karen Rontowski, Jamie Bendall and Jamar Haynes Lee were not known to me when we met, but I definitely won't forget them after this. Each had exemplary sets. Kevin Downey, Jr, fresh from an appearance on "Red-Eye" (one of my favorite TV shows), closed the evening with his off-the-grid, insanity-meets-reality stylem which was a perfect way to end a long evening (our audience stayed attentive and responsive and strong for the entire night! A tribute to Sinbad's style and the quality of the above-named comedy all-stars). My particular episode included two pals from the business:
  • Horace HB Sanders and I have done some TV/video work together, and he is always definitive and hilarious. Great to work with his energetic flow and his dynamic persona.
  • Patty Vasquez, who hosts a radio show of her own on WGN in Chicago (yeah! My dad's old employer!) has shared the stage with me for a few gigs as well. Her takes on marriage and motherhood are timeless.
There were two more tapings over the weekend, hosted by Mr. Jeff Allen, who is a comedy lifer with the kind of resume most of us would die for. His career has taken an upward trajectory over the past 10-15 years, due in large part to his work ethic and attention to detail. He is a mesmerizing live act, whose humor has all sorts of edges to it, and to see his success is inspirational and admirable. The last evening featured one of the funniest and most endearing people in all entertainment: Louie Anderson hosted the final 4 tapings. It absolutely does not get better than that. I'm looking forward to the finished product! I will give you more details about "PureFlix Comedy All-Stars" when I get information, and it should be available online sometime in February. Taylor