Labor Day Comedy Fest

When an experiment turns into a tradition in Laughlin, it means there was a show worth taking a chance on at one time—then consistently that same show proved itself time after time to be one audiences didn’t want to miss. The Memorial Day Comedy Festival at the Riverside Resort was that show. Experiencing comedy served up as a variety show with veteran comedian Gabe Lopez as the show’s producer, performer and emcee was like discovering a hidden gem on the entertainment landscape—more along the lines of one of those underground clubs in Vegas, known only to a lucky few. But now the word is out and the Comedy Festival is coming back to the Riverside Resort over the Labor Day weekend this time.
Once again, the show consists of a full slate of comedians all performing the same night, with Lopez leading the charge. The lineup includes Cory and Chad Edwards, (the Smash Brothers), DJ Cooch, along with Brett Riley and Kabir Singh.
“We’re so excited to be back for the fourth year in a row,” Gabe Lopez told the Laughlin Entertainer. “Luckily we were requested to come back by popular demand.
“We added some new hilarious acts to our group this year,” he said. “The Smash Brothers, DJ Cooch and I will be returning, along with Brett Riley, who’s a hilarious pale white guy that won the Compton Comedy Competition a few years ago. Kabir Singh is also added to the lineup. He recently won a comedy contest in your lovely town of Laughlin.
“They’re all headliners in their own right, but they’re all doing shorter sets so everybody is featured every night,” he said of the format. “They’re concentrating their jokes, so there’s something for everybody. The beautiful thing with this particular group of comedians is that we are all great friends so we have fun on stage, we mess with each other. Then we take that energy into the crowd.”

More on Gabe Lopez
Gabe Lopez began doing stand-up over a decade ago when he was given the opportunity to perform at open mic night at the Improv Comedy Club in L.A. He was hooked and began playing comedy clubs whenever and wherever he could. Lopez produces a comedy show in Vegas called “The Dirty at 12:30,” offered up at the Grandview Lounge inside the South Point Hotel and Casino. A version of that show is what he brings to Laughlin.
So a word of caution here—these shows will contain strong language, adult subject matter, and sexual content. In other words, adults only please.
Here’s Lopez’ take on…

Being both producer and performer…
Lopez: Each job has its own stresses. From the producer side, I have to keep track of which guys I have coming and I worry whether or not a new guy will strike a chord with people so I can bring him back.
From the performer side, I have to think about my material. Do I do the same stuff the fans expect or do new stuff? It’s a juggling act. Now that we’re coming back to Laughlin, we now have fans there so I face a dilemma. Do I do proven material, or new material?

His style…
Lopez: Very observational and uncensored. I start shows like the one we do at “Dirty at 12:30” by telling people it’s a very open-minded show. If you’re easily offended, get out. That sets the tone. In the first minute I bring up my talented friends and we knock it out of the park.
Influences…
Lopez: My first influence was Eddie Murphy and his special “Raw,” which I really shouldn’t have been watching.

Getting started…
Lopez: I started in California at open mics. After several shots of tequila, which gave me the courage, I got up on stage. Once I got that first laugh, or what may have been a little chuckle, there was really no looking back. That was a feeling I wanted for the rest of my life. When it’s organic, a true joke, and someone is laughing at your idea, something you wrote, there is no turning back.

The strangest place he’s played…
Lopez: A nudist colony, and no, I did not perform naked. The reason I took the gig was in my mind I’m thinking Playmates, gorgeous Playmates—and it was so the opposite. It was in a trailer park with trailer park people and there were a lot of guys. I saw stuff I wish I could erase from my mind. Thanks for bringing that memory back.

Positive of being a comedian…
Lopez: Meeting people after the show, especially in places like Vegas and Laughlin. You’re meeting people from all over the world because tourist towns attract the world.
Also good is when I get comments like, “Something horrid happened to me and I expected nothing when I came to your show, but I was surprised and I forgot my troubles for an hour.” That’s the biggest compliment you could give me.

Smash Brothers
Cory and Chad Edwards, a.k.a. The Smash Brothers are identical twins born and raised outside of East L.A. by a mail lady mother and a crazy biker dad. Cory, is the so-called “Good Twin,” with a laid-back style that keeps the duo grounded. Chad is the “Evil Twin” with wild party stories. They have served as opener for Ralphie May on occasion so you know they lean toward the “adult” material, too.
Here’s their take…

Getting in the comedy business…
Edwards: About 15 years ago, we were in Los Angeles at a Starbucks making everybody laugh in line. This guy comes up to us and says, “You guys are so funny, what do you do?” Cory says, “We’re standup comedians.” The guy goes, “Really? I’m the manager of The Improv, would you guys like to perform tonight?” We just looked at each other and laughed and we said “yes.” We did what’s called a “tight five,” a quick five minutes and I don’t remember one joke we said. But we’ve been doing it ever since.
We took theater and drama ever since junior high, high school and college. We’ve always wanted to perform. I guess it was just meant to be, to meet that guy and get the opportunity to perform stand-up.

Influences…
Edwards: First Robin Williams, and Sam Kinison, of course. We’re actually good friends with his brother, Bill. He’s a neighbor of ours. Growing up, I would say Rodney Dangerfield and just comics in the early ’80s that were popular like that.

Their style…
Edwards: Obviously we’re identical twins, so we talk about a lot of things that we can do nobody else can do. For instance, I used my brother’s driver’s license until I was 25 years old.
As we’re getting older our comedy is talking about the differences between people over 30 compared to today’s newer generation. We talk about how they’re disconnected and they don’t go outside and play any more. When we were kids, from the minute we woke up until the streetlights came on, we were never inside the house. Otherwise, you had to do chores.

Their worst experience doing comedy?
Edwards: One time we performed at a biker bar. We show up and their Harleys are actually parked inside the bar and as we’re performing one of them kick-starts his Harley, so no one can hear us, peels out and goes through the double doors and takes off. They’re all still looking at us like it as a normal occurrence but we were petrified. We got our $50 and got the heck out of there.

The strangest place they’ve ever performed?
Edwards: Laughlin, probably, believe it or not. Because we’ve been going there since we were 12 years old, when our parents would take us then they’d be in bowling tournaments. We’re 40 now, so for us to perform there is kind of surreal…we used to run up and down going to the arcades and now we’re telling jokes inside the casino.
I remember seeing signs for Sam Kinison and thinking, wow, that is so cool. Then when we got the call to perform there, I remember just sitting on the stage in the showroom—we just sat there and took it all in. So we’d have to say Laughlin, definitely.

Positive of being a comic…
Edwards: We get to be in a new city everyday. I’m not married, I have no kids, so for me to be gone, it’s not a big deal. But for us to be in a new town, and make people forget about their issues and problems for an hour and make them laugh—there’s nothing better than that.
I used to sit at a desk—I was a commodities buyer for a long time and I hated that job. Now that I can make people laugh all night long and then have them actually want to take a picture with us, that is probably the coolest thing in the whole world.

Today’s comedy scene…
Edwards: We had what we called a comedy boom for a while. Then I’d say about 12 or 14 years ago, it was hard to get stage time. More people want to go out and see stand-up today compared to 10 years ago. It wasn’t happening. We’d perform to 15 people—and that was a Friday night. Now people are excited to go out and laugh. So I think comedy is on the rise—all different types of comedy—clean, dirty, Latino, all the different spectrums. I think it’s a cool time to be in comedy right now.

DJ Cooch
Jorge Aldana (a.k.a. DJ Cooch) has been hitting the West Coast as a DJ/remixer. For years, he has had his own show at Universal Citywalk called the “Latino Dance Party.” He parlayed his DJ ability (in multiple languages) into a comedy career “by accident” as he explains in the interview here…

Getting into comedy…
Cooch: I got into it totally by accident. I’m a DJ, that’s why I go by the name “DJ Cooch.” But I was at a Juan Gabriel concert at Universal. The guy who was supposed to go on first wasn’t there and they had about 10 minutes of nothing but dead air. The radio station had given away all their prizes and the crowd was getting rowdy. Because I worked there and had back stage passes, they asked me to go on. So that’s pretty much it. That was the first thing I ever did in comedy—and in Spanish. The next day I decided to get serious about comedy.

Influences….
Cooch: My biggest influence was Lucille Ball. Even today, she still makes me laugh. There’s just something about how she connected with audiences through her facial expressions. I use facial expressions and I get that from her. I liked Eddie Murphy from day one…and I liked Don Rickles. He’s the tops for the same reason—his facial expressions.

His style…
Cooch: It’s physical. You’ll see more action in my show. I don’t do dirty, though I cuss here and there. But I don’t go for that “wow he’s really dirty” thing. I go for stuff about my situation, what’s going on in my life, things I see. It’s my connection to the audience that works. They know it’s coming from the heart.

The strangest…
Cooch: I was asked, along with another comic, to perform after a funeral. Apparently the guy who died loved comedy. It was awkward. We’re trying to bring humor and there were people crying and having conversations way in the back. Some of them were asking why we were there. We were wondering why we were there. We’re doing jokes and handing out tissues.

Positive of being a comic…
Cooch: The best compliment I get is when someone tells me, “Thank you, I was having a crappy day and I just totally forgot for 30 minutes.” Changing someone’s mind and changing their day completely is what it’s all about for me.

Kabir Singh
Kabir Singh has been performing in comedy clubs and winning comedy competitions all over the West Coast for years. Hailing from Portland, Oregon, Singh is the 2009 and 2010 winner of the major Bay Area Stand-up Comedy Competition beating over 160 comics from all over the U.S, and the 2014 San Francisco International Comedy Competition. Most recently he took first place at the Laughlin Laugh Fest’s Knights of Comedy Competition, held just a couple of weeks ago.
Now he’s coming back to town, which is good news for those of us who missed any of his performances during the contest.
His humor is all about his Indian heritage, growing up in Portland, Oregon with his stereotypical parents. It didn’t take Singh long to realize it wouldn’t be easy making friends at school, so he used his comedy to help with that, becoming known as the funniest Indian kid in Oregon, not too difficult considering he was the only Indian kid in Oregon. When he was nine, his family moved to Bombay, India where he was bullied and teased for being American, which taught him how to make people laugh in no less than three languages. At 13, the family moved back and he was back to being made fun of, so his life experiences and culture clashes give his comedy a whole different perspective, cleverly delivered. He is a high-energy, crowd-pleasing comic with an in-your-face attitude and razor-sharp wit.
He is a regular on tour with some of the best comics in the business today including Anjelah Johnson, Damon Wayans Jr., and Dat Phan and Singh has also shared the stage with top comedy stars like Dave Chappelle, Jo Koy, and Russell Peters. He is one of the fastest rising comedians, fresh off his Comedy Central debut on the his comedy show, “Gabriel Iglesias’ Stand-Up Revolution,” and his work on the FOX TV show, “The Family Guy.”
Singh also has successfully toured the UK and Asia with sold out shows, including four in India on his 14-city international tour in late 2015.

Brett Riley
Brett Riley is one of the most original fresh faces coming to light in the comedy world. With the swagger of a rock front man and the likability of a college drinking buddy, this walking “series of unfortunate events” takes the audience on a personal tour of the Riley view on everything from pop-culture, relationships, family, advice on how to mess with people, and the ability to sing well enough to make your mom forget the other stuff that comes out of his mouth.
Riley is a farm boy from Kansas with the heart of a soul singer which makes for a life full of unusual and out of place stories. It has been said, “Brett Riley isn’t a fish out of water, he is his own portable bowl.” Realizing he was born to entertain, Riley took advantage of a scholarship to Oklahoma City University for music theater. He quickly learned he was meant to perform, just not music theater. After sneaking into comedy clubs with fake IDs and getting booked as the house emcee and winning Wichita King of Comedy 2004, it became very obvious that he needed to hit the road and take it to the next level. He didn’t waste anytime proving himself in L.A.—six months after arriving, he claimed the title the Funniest Comic in the City 2007, which led to his appearance on “Judge Joe Brown” to collect the prize money. After a car accident almost claimed his life in September 2008, determined not to be forgotten Riley quickly bounced back to claim the title of Roc Da Mic Comedy Competition winner, in Compton 2009. He can most recently be seen headlining which will also be playing on Hulu.com under CandorTV.


LABOR DAY COMEDY FEST

Don’s Celebrity Theatre Riverside Resort

Thurs-Sun, Aug. 31- Sept. 3, 8 p.m. (See “Showtimes” for tickets)