The halls of Kenai Peninsula College will be filled with laughter Friday evening, which will be a welcome way to herald in spring break after a week of mid-term exams.
The laugher will be generated from two stand-up comedians as part of the KPC Showcase program's first ever Comedy Showcase at 8 p.m. Friday in the Brockel Building.
The showcase program puts on entertainment events for KPC students and the community. These events are typically musical performances, making Friday's event all the more novel.
"It's going to be a bit of a departure for the KPC Showcase, although hopefully the first of many new events," said Dave Atcheson, KPC Showcase coordinator.
College Director Gary Turner suggested to Atcheson that he do something different with the showcase program and suggested he should try to round up some comedians to perform.
The task proved harder than it sounded.
"Well, this is Kenai and Soldotna. I didn't think there were any comedians, although there were funny people around," Atcheson said.
Atcheson had a friend scout out the Anchorage area for potential performers, but the comedy scene there turned up dry.
As it turned out, the University of Alaska, Anchorage was planning to bring comedian Ben Bailey to its campus to perform, so Atcheson booked him for a peninsula performance as well.
"I hope it goes well because I would like to piggyback more on some of the UAA stuff," Atcheson said. "They get a lot of comedians, musicians and other acts."
Bailey is a professional comedian from New York. Performing at a college campus is nothing new to Bailey, as he has done so at campuses throughout the country. He also performs in comedy clubs and has appeared on Mad TV and Comedy Central. Currently he is starring in the motion picture "So Real."
Bailey got his start in stand-up while working answering phones at "The Comedy Store" on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles. Bailey is originally from New Jersey, and moved to California when he was 21 to figure out what career path he wanted to pursue in life. After a show one night, Bailey hung out in the green room and swapped stories with some of the comedians.
One of them invited Bailey to perform in his show. At first he said no, but later changed his mind and agreed to do the show. Bailey said he was hooked when he got his first laugh and he's been a comedian ever since.
"I like that I get to go and make everybody laugh," Bailey said of the comedy profession. "It's an escape for everybody from their everyday stuff."
Ten years later, Bailey is living in New York doing stand-up and trying to get into a sitcom pilot.
"I'd love to end up doing movies, but I'm happy to just be a comic too," he said.
Bailey's performances at KPC and UAA will take him a little beyond his tour route of the past.
"I think it's going to be cool, I'm looking forward to it," he said. "I've never been up there before."
Bailey does mainly observational comedy, and said his act would be appropriate for most anyone except small children.
Warming up the crowd for Bailey will be local comedian Jason Battiest. Battiest currently attends Alaska Christian College in Soldotna and has done some local stand-up performances. Turner saw him perform and suggest to Atcheson that he should add Battiste to the Comedy Showcase.
Battiest is originally from Broken Bow, Okla., and is a Native American from the Choctaw Nation. His first taste of performing came when he was 4, and he's acted in several high school and college performances since. Battiest will do about a 20-minute set to start the Comedy Showcase, and Bailey plans to perform for about 45 minutes to an hour.
In the past, KPC Showcase programs have been free, but the college is charging for tickets this time in order to generate funds to support future KPC-UAA collaborations.
"This is the first time we've actually charged for tickets," Atcheson said. "We've got the ticket price very low and we're not making any money on it. It would be nice to do something like this again, and keep doing (performances by) the local folks as well."
Tickets are $5 for students, KPC staff and seniors and $10 general admission. They are available at River City Books and Kaladi Brothers in Soldotna, HighSpeed Gear in Kenai and at the KPC bookstore and student union.
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