The third annual Coastal Carolina Comedy Festival benefiting the Benjamin House wants to make you laugh. They want to make you laugh so much they’ve brought in Bob Smiley, a Christian comedian who swears clean jokes are funnier jokes.
This is the Benjamin House’s biggest fundraiser of the year and it’s also a great way for the family to get out, be entertained and have a laugh, according to Benjamin House founder Ann Hughes.
And if laughs aren’t enough, popular local band Out ‘n the Cold will perform. Now Out in the Cold isn’t exactly a comedy act, but if you’ve ever heard these boys perform, then you know they crack some pretty funny jokes in between songs.
This fourth annual event takes place Saturday at College of the Albemarle’s Performing Arts Center. It happens at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20 and they’re available at Arts of the Albmearle, The Sandwich Market, Clown ‘N Around, Page After Page, UPS Store; Woodard’s Pharmacy in Hertford. Tickets are also available at the door, the night of the show.
Bob Smiley began his career as a comic when he entered a stand-up competition. He says his only competition that night was a man in a sombrero with no act, so he went home with the $500 prize; but the die was cast and a young comic had been hatched.
Since that time he’s honed his talents working for Christian bands such as Newsboys, Third Day and Mercy Me. These days he’s one of the nation’s most in-demand comics performing “clean comedy.”
The idea for a comedy festival to benefit the Benjamin House was born a handful of years ago when founder Ann Hughes was introduced to comic T. Bubba Bechtol. Bechtol convinced Hughes that she should create a signature fundraising event and the festival was born.
Since that time the Coastal Carolina Comedy Festival has been entertaining folks in the region with family comedy. But perhaps most importantly it has been support the efforts of Benjamin House.
The Benjamin House first opened in the winter of 2006, and over the last six and a half years it has grown to become a big part of the greater Elizabeth City community. The 12 residents of the home, and the community beyond the home, have been interacting and building a strong bond over the years now.
Ann’s son Ben was born with mental disabilities that require him to have assistance in his day-to-day life. His parents have devoted much of Ben’s life to giving him what he needs to be independent, yet they also knew that one day they would be gone and Ben would have to have another means to support him.
By support, they mean the kind of support a family can offer a person: companionship, as well as emotional and spiritual development. What’s more, he would need help with some basic life skills.
That’s why Benjamin House was built. Hughes poured her heart and soul into raising money and launching the facility, all for Ben and the 11 other folks he shares his day-to-day life with at the house.
When the house first opened, there was plenty of activity around the place. The residents all have jobs, or do volunteer work. They also have mentors who help them on a regular basis.
Over the past six years, Benjamin House has become more than an assisted living facility for its residents, however. It has become a touchstone to a greater community. It has become a launching pad for the residents to reach out and help folks outside of their walls, as well folks coming in and being a part of their lives.
And all of that is why this comedy festival is so important to Hughes and the folks at Benjamin House. It’s an outreach of sorts when people buy a ticket to the festival.
So you buy a ticket and get an evening of laughs and great music, while Benjamin House gets the support it needs to keep the lives of its 12 residents in good stead.
For more information go to www.carolinacomedy.org or call 252-335-0346.