Area residents will be treated to an evening of laughs during the first edition of the Jamestown Savings Bank Arena comedy series on Friday.
JSBA will present "Wits n' Giggles: Friday Night Comedy," a weekly comedy series each Friday from 6-9 p.m. in the upper level arena club.
According to Phil Genco, JSBA's marketing, Web and graphic design manager, the idea behind hosting comedy nights is that JSBA doesn't want area residents to have to go out of town to get entertainment.
"The arena's Friday Night Comedy Series will compliment the Lucy-Desi Center's annual comedy shows and give this community the opportunity to enjoy comedy right in their own back yard at a good price," said Genco. "I'm pumped to see these guys perform because there aren't many opportunities to see live comedy right here in Jamestown. A lot of these comedians have been featured on late-night TV, Comedy Central and radio shows. They aren't the most recognizable names, but the comedians we have coming in here are in comedy clubs all over the country making people laugh, so we should have some really enjoyable shows coming up."
Genco is working with The Q of Jamestown to book comics. He attended a number of the bar's comic shows when they were doing comedy, and he thought they were high quality, he said.
The series will run for 11 weeks until May 31, with each weekly installment featuring a pair of comedians. This Friday's show will feature Jack Willhite, a comedian who uses music to entertain his crowds. According to Genco, Willhite's stand-up has been referred to as a comedy and music extravaganza where the comedian performs twisted renditions of songs from a number of popular rock artists. Some examples of the artists that Willhite spoofs include: AC/DC, Ozzy Osbourne, Guns N' Roses, Foo Fighters, ZZ Top, Poison, U2, John Cougar Mellencamp and others.
"I'm a little bit of a hybrid type of show, where I do a mix of both straight stand-up and then two-thirds of it morphs into classic rock guitar parodies," said Willhite. "I do a number of characters on stage and do a Weird Al type of thing where I change the lyrics of a song. I've got four guitars, two amps, all the effects - I'm like a one-man band up there."
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Willhite uses wigs, glasses and some other props to create the image of a character. He is in no way shape or form trying to degrade the artists with his act, said Willhite.
"It's not really pounding an artist, it's actually an homage to the artform," said Willhite. "It's just taking artists and putting them in places where people might not normally expect them to be."
Willhite has performed in the area before, and is excited to come back. One of the things he likes about the area is that there is a culture which knows a lot about and really likes classic rock, he said.
"I think the biggest misnomer about upstate New York is that everybody wants to extrapolate that the entire state looks like New York City," said Willhite. "It's beautiful up there, and I always love coming up to that area. There are other parts of the country that are not so good about maintaining and persevering at knowing what rock music is all about, and they just follow the latest trends. But, the midwest and the northeast are really good at keeping the genre alive."
People have come up to Willhite after his shows and said to him that they didn't know any of the artists he depicted, but his music, costumes and props made it entertaining regardless, he said.
"Generally if people are having a bad day they can come out and watch a complete cornball doing this number and say, 'Well I guess my life isn't looking so bad today,'" said Willhite.
Only those 18 and above will be admitted. Tickets are $8 presale and $12 on the day of the show. They are available at the JSBA Box Office, by phone at 484-2624 or online at jamestownarena.com. The JSBA is located at 319 W. Third St. in Jamestown. For more information, search for Jamestown Savings Bank Arena on Facebook.