They’re standup guys!
St. Lucie Voice New
Dec. 2, 2016
By Shelley Koppel
OK, so a Jew, and Irishman and an Italian walk into a bar …
No, I’m not about to begin a joke that could land me in a lot of trouble. That’s the beginning of the title of a Dec. 18 show at Stuart’s Lyric Theatre. The rest of the title is “An Evening of Clean Standup Comedy.” The night features comedy legend and Lyric favorite Freddie Roman as well as Jeff Norris and Richard Minervini. You get to guess which one fits which category.
Roman began his career in the Catskills as a teen. He attended NYU and met comedian Totie Fields, who invited him to join her on her national tour. More than half a century later, he is still working and is dean of the New York Friars Club.
Minervini has appeared in Las Vegas and Atlantic City and has also appeared on TV’s “The King of Queens” and in feature films including “Mall Cop,” “Grownups” and “Zookeeper.”
Norris, known for the wide variety of voices and impressions he does, is a headliner on Royal Caribbean and at comedy venues including Dangerfield’s in New York City and the Riviera in Las Vegas. He was also featured in HBO’s “Oz” and “Boardwalk Empire.”
Norris, who lives on the Jersey Shore, took time to speak by phone about the tour and about why he loves the Lyric.
“My first experience was two years ago and it was one of the nicest venues,” he said. “I perform on cruise ships all over the world and the theater is beautiful. The guests are class. They come to be entertained. They’re there for a show and they’re prepared to be entertained. You can’t take away how professionally it’s run and the stage crews deliver. So much goes on before, with the lighting and sound and they are top-notch. They have my deepest respect.”
Norris said that the show begins with Roman welcoming the audience and doing a few minutes of comedy. Then the other two have a turn and Roman returns for an encore.
“I’m so proud to work with Richie and Freddie,” he said. “They have years of experience. It just proves that you don’t have to be dirty to be funny. The ‘blue’ style is not for everybody. It’s a night of laughter without worrying about nasty curse words. It’s the week before the holiday. People have guests. They want to take them somewhere where they’re proud. If my act were a movie, it would be PG-17. It’s observational humor, impressions and the situations of life. My goal is for people to feel better leaving than they did coming in. Laughter is medicine.”
Norris does a lot of charity work, trying to do at least two events a month in addition to his paying gigs. One of his causes is K-9 for warriors, a charity that raises money to provide service animals to veterans, especially those with PTSD or other brain trauma. A recent event with several comedians raised $100,000.
“It’s the greatest feeling in the world,” Norris said. “It shows what laughter can do. It’s reassuring in a crazy world. People say they haven’t laughed in months or since someone passed. It’s geared to take people away from their problems and leave better t
“I met her during a show,” he said. “I proposed to her on stage in front of 500 people. Sometimes we argue about who’s going to take an idea on stage. We laugh a lot and love a lot. It’s nice. We have the ability to do things to help people. Laughter does so much. I’m not the biggest star, but I can make a difference in people’s lives.”
“A Jew, an Irishman and an Italian Walk into a Bar (An Evening of Clean Standup Comedy)” will be presented at the Lyric Theatre, 59 S.W. Flagler Ave., Stuart, Dec. 18 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $45. Call the box office at 772-286-7827 or order online at www.lyrictheatre.com.