Area residents can never be sure what's in store for them when they head to the Jamestown Savings Bank Arena for Friday night comedy, except one thing: a chance to leave laughing.
Those who attended JSBA's Wits 'N Giggles series Friday spent at least an hour exploding with laughter. To the audience's surprise, the headliner for the show was none other than Bob Gautreau, a standup comedian from Boston whose impressions of famous characters performing well-known tunes for the first 15 minutes of his show got the audience warmed up so he could keep them bursting at the seams for the duration of his hourlong set.
"Wouldn't it be great if they had the great big collection, 'All the Songs You Love by the People Who Never Should Have Sung Them - Ever,'" Gautreau said. "Like Jerry Lewis sings Lionel Richie ... George Burns singing Rod Stewart ... Columbo singing The Rolling Stones ... Charro singing Van Halen ... or Dr. Ruth sings Jefferson Airplane."
Gautreau, who had never been to the area before, said he decided to stop by Jamestown after killing a crowd in Elmira Thursday night.
"The ones we didn't kill were already dead," Gautreau said. "We did the Lucy Museum - we had to. I'm a big fan, and my legacy is like Lucy's when they told her, 'We're not going to pay for this' and she said, 'I'm going to do it anyway.' When I was a kid I could just not get in in Boston, so I went and made a career for myself on the road and when someone told me no I went somewhere else where someone told me yes."
When asked why he loves comedy so much, and has been doing it since he was 16-years-old, he responded, "It really is the best drug you will ever have - it's such an adrenaline thing," Gautreau said.
Bob Gautreau is shown performing during Jamestown Savings Bank Arena’s Wits ‘N Giggles Friday night comedy series.
P-J photo by Dusten Rader
But, before Gautreau's massive personality took the stage, the audience had to first sit through two other Boston-based comedians who are currently touring with the headliner, Patty Gould and Joe Amato. Each had 15 minutes to show the audience their best, and although they tried hard, some are just impossible to please.
Gould, who wore a purple sparkly jacket after realizing Jamestown was Lucille Ball's hometown and hearing it was her favorite color, had the chance to visit the Lucy-Desi Museum before her set, and decided to bring the tote she had acquired at the gift shop with her onto the stage - the audience loved it - and her too, especially since she opened her set with a loud, "I Love Lucy."
"Don't call your kids Penn State and State Penn, nowadays it's probably not good to be either," Gould joked. "God's reward for not killing your teenagers is grandkids."
Amato, whose luck with the audience lasted for a little more than three minutes, garnered a few chuckles from his stories of his time in the Navy, where he took the position of undesignated seaman.
"When I told people I was going to join the military, they said, 'You'd have to be really stupid to join the Navy' - I said, 'Sounds like the job for me,'" Amato said. "When I went to the recruiter they gave me three options for an occupation. The first was a fire controlman, the second was electricians mate and the third was an undesignated seaman. ... I chose undesignated seaman, but I never liked the term because it sounds like I don't care who I sleep with."
A comedian from Jamestown, Rob Will, opened for the three acts, and acted as host for the duration of the evening.
According to Matt Hanson, events coordinator for JSBA, there isn't a better place to be on a Friday night, especially for a date.
"It's something unique to go out and do outside of the typical things," Hanson said. "It's really the only ongoing comedy that you have as far as Chautauqua County is concerned. We do a good job of working with Southbay Comedy to get comedians from pretty much all over the country - so you get a little bit of flavor from all over the place. I haven't seen a single comedian so far that was bad or completely bombed, so grab a couple friends and come on down - it's a nice little evening."
The Wits 'N Giggles comedy series will be held every other Friday through Dec. 13. The shows, which were formerly held at 7 p.m., have been moved to a 8-10 p.m. time slot. The Friday, Oct. 4 show will feature Rob Steen and Jay Grove. The Q's Justin Lindell and South Bay Comedy collaborate with JSBA to secure high-quality comedians for the series.
In addition to the one or two comedians scheduled for each show, Sully's Irish Pub, which is inside the arena, will host a pre-show happy hour beginning at 6 p.m., during which food will also be served. However, food will no longer be served during the show as a result of patron feedback. The upstairs bar will be open during performances.
Tickets to each show are $10 presale, and $12 day of show. Jamestown Community College students with valid college ID will be admitted for $5. Guests must be 18 or older to attend, and capacity is set at 110 guests. JSBA is located at 319 W. Third St. in Jamestown. For more information, call 484-2624 or visit jamestownare