The August installment of the 1st Friday Comedy Show series hits the Avi Resort & Casino's Grand Ballroom stage Friday, Aug. 2. The format of three different comedians performing each month keeps the series fresh and popular with audiences.
What started as a summertime experiment last year, has expanded into a year-long run for the show this time. All of the talent comes from a comedy organization called The Comedy Machine, which has been supplying venues across the country with some of the funniest clean comedians around.
If this show is anything like July's show, audiences are in for a real treat when this full-on, non-stop laugh event comes back to town. The evening begins with host Irina Voronina, followed by feature comic Rick D'Elia and the evening's headliner, Brian Kiley.
More about Brian Kiley...
Kiley always knew he wanted to be a comic but growing up in Boston back in the '60s, he had no idea how to make that happen. He loved watching the few comics that happened to be on the limited talk shows of the day, but getting into the industry seemed like a long shot. However, sometimes opportunities happen along when you least expect them, and Kiley turned his ability to write jokes into a full-time gig as a staff writer for Conan O'Brien in 1994, and is currently the head monologue writer.
He has been nominated for 16 Emmy Awards and he is the winner of the 2007 Emmy Award for Writing in a Comedy/Variety Series. All the while, he has maintained a successful stand-up career, traveling around the country for many years.
He has appeared several times on "The Late Show with David Letterman," "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," "Late Night with Conan O'Brien," and more. He regularly performs at clubs in L.A.
"As a kid, I wanted to be a comedian, but in those days, there weren't any comedy clubs around," he told the Laughlin entertainer. "You never heard of anything like that. I'd watch a comedian on Merv Griffin or Mike Douglas, but my question was, 'how do you become a comedian?'
"I watched 'The Dick Van Dyke Show,' which was my favorite show, and I thought, people write for TV shows. I knew that was a thing. I could write for a sit-com, but at 12 or 13, you don't know how to go about that.
"At about 14, I would write jokes and I had little note cards I wrote them on and I kept them in like a recipe box, in case I needed them someday," he laughed.
"I was in my sophomore year at Boston College and they had some professional comedians come and perform. The third guy, Barry Crimmins, was hilarious. I talked to him after the show and I said I'd like to be a comedy writer, because saying I wanted to be a comedian was too scary for me. He was running this club in Cambridge called the Ding Ho — it's a Chinese restaurant that ran comedy seven nights a week. He had me come there and meet with him.
"I typed up the jokes I'd been writing all those years and he critiqued them. He told me that I couldn't make any money in Boston writing jokes for people, that I'd have to perform. I thought, ‘I could never do that.’ He let me come and watch the show at the restaurant any time I wanted.
"I took a comedy class in the summer at Emerson College taught by Denis Leary and we had to write scripts and perform stand-up. At the end of the class they had guests come in and we did our stand-up for them. This woman, who was a professional comedian named Andrea Eisenberg told me, 'you should pursue this and see if you can have a career.' So I went to the Ding Ho the next week for the open mic and Barry was hosting. He gave me a good spot and a good intro and it went great and then I was a comedian.
"That was my senior year at college and I did it full-time after I got out of college for about 10 or 12 years," he added.
Then a new talk show made it's way into the mix.
" 'Late Night with Conan O'Brien' had just started and a couple friends of mine got hired. I was writing a lot of topical jokes at the time," Kiley said. "I would go through the newspaper and write jokes on whatever was happening in the news. A friend called me and said, 'one of Conan's monologue writers got fired, they're really looking for somebody, why don't you submit?' So I typed up 25 minutes of my act I'd been doing the last few years with all my topical jokes and I sent it in. They called me and said, 'Conan liked your packet and you start tomorrow.' The show was new, we didn't know if it was going to last and I had all these 13-week contracts. It kept going and I've been there for 24 years."
Kiley found a way to balance writing jokes for himself and writing for someone else.
"Conan grew up in the next town in Boston from me. We went to the same Catholic Sunday School when we were kids. I kind of knew of him as a kid, and a weird coincidence was the two of us, we grew up in these big Irish Catholic families in Boston, I think we just had a lot of similar sensibilities so that helped. I didn't have too hard a time adjusting to writing for him.
"Sometimes when you write for someone else, it's like we're on two different wave lengths about what we think is funny. When I started working for Conan in the old days, I always enjoyed word play, and I'd write jokes like that for my act, and I'd write jokes like that for him. Well, he hates those kinds of jokes. He kind of beat those out of me," he laughed.
"When it comes to my comedy, I basically satirize my life," he added. "I've been married for 27 years, I've got two kids who are college age, so my jokes are about my life.
"What I've done with Conan is, I never wanted that thing when I've come up with a good joke, do I give it to him or keep it for me? I never wanted to have that sort of moral dilemma everyday. So anything topical, which is what the monologue is anyway, Conan gets all that stuff, and my act is about my wife, kids and my childhood."
The good, the bad and the ugly of the business of comedy is a high, low and everything in between.
"There is nothing more exciting than going on 'The David Letterman Show,' or 'The Tonight Show,' and it's great. I've had so many great experiences with great comedians. But then they book you in restaurants and they want you to perform for the people — the people didn't come for a comedy show, they just came here to have dinner. You're giving them comedy against their will," he laughs. "Sometimes you're booked for a private party and everyone's milling around. I might as well be at a bus depot. No one wants a show. There's nothing worse than a bad night.
"I've lived in Boston, and I lived in New York and now living in Los Angeles," he added. "These are great comic cities where there's just great comics there. So I'm lucky that my favorite comics are my friends and some of these people are comics you've never heard of. But they are hilarious and that's one of my favorite things — getting to hang out in the green room with other comics is just a treat. It's so much fun.
"Everyone's a good storyteller, but no one tells about the great shows they had, their story is, 'I'm doing the show, and I'm getting heckled by a veteran, he's a war hero and the crowd hates me. The guy's holding a baby and the baby starts heckling me.'
"There's nothing better than having a great show," he said. "If you have a hot crowd and a great show, that's so much fun and there's nothing like when you've got that new joke that you can't wait to try and it works. It's such a great feeling.
"Then there's nothing worse than bombing, especially when you're bombing by yourself and you're 2,000 miles from home. When you're on the road full-time, it can be lonely. You miss your family and your life. It takes its toll on people. I'm fortunate because of my job, I'm not on the road any more. I travel very little here and there."
What does he do about hecklers?
"First, I have a team of lawyers that can issue a cease and desist. It's expensive to have them at every show, believe me. I'm losing money hand over fist," he laughs. "I don't have them too often luckily, some people have an aggressive act and it makes sense for people to go after them. But I don't do that kind of act so it's not too bad."
For samples of Kiley's comedy, check out his website, briankiley.com or his Twitter page at kileynoodles to see his Tweets.
Rick D’Elia is a 20-year veteran of stand-up comedy with appearances on Comedy Central, Showtime and "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno." He is the author and editor of Bathroom Bits, the ultimate collection of the world’s greatest street jokes.
Originally from Boston, D’Elia was a recurring sketch performer on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" whose keen observational humor, quick wit and improv skills lead him to the finals in the prestigious San Francisco Comedy Competition.
He has headlined clubs and corporate events all across the country as well as entertained U.S. troops in Japan, Korea, Italy, Bahrain and Germany.
On the side, D’Elia performs in a comedy duo called Hits & Giggles with fellow stand-up Adam Stone. Their show combines stand-up comedy, inane banter, and music that draws upon material from the 1960s right up to present day. Imagine a contemporary cross between The Smothers Brothers and Cheech & Chong (without the bong water).
In 2006 this “wicked die-hahd” Red Sox aficionado had his first book published: How to Talk to a Yankee Fan… a tongue-in-cheek look at the rivalry between the Yankees and the rest of America.
Russian-American Irina Voronina is multi-talented as not only a standup comedian, but an actress and model as well. She was the Playboy Playmate for January 2001, and appeared in numerous Playboy videos.
As of 2015, Voronina has performed as a stand-up comedian throughout Los Angeles and surrounding areas. In 2018, Voronina was chosen to perform at the Comedy Festivals of San Diego, Joshua Tree, Palm Springs, Burbank and Orange County, as well as Los Angeles' LaughRiot Grrrl. Her television stand-up debut will air on the second season of Prime Video's Laugh After Dark, set to be released in August.