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February 17, 2013

VIDEO | Firefighters use stand-ups as fundraiser

NORTHERN CAMBRIA — The fundraiser held on Saturday night for the Hope Fire Company of Northern Cambria was unlike any the fire hall has hosted before – it counted on the audience being “slain.”

For the first time, company trustee Mark Daisley brought an “Evening of Stand-Up Comedy” to the fire house along Philadelphia Avenue.

Daisley, who’s been a Hope firefighter for about 20 years, said he thought it would be a good way to mix up the fundraising schedule and make the night stand out for the event’s 21-and-over crowd.

“We always do gun raffles, car shows, we do a bass tournament on Father’s Day,” he said. “It’s about enjoying a night out.”

“It’s a real good idea,” said Ron Leconte of Munster, who’s never been to a fundraising event at the Hope Fire Company before.

“We like comedy – we read it in (The Tribune-Democrat) and decided we were going to come out for the evening and see what it’s like,” he said.

“I’d tell my friends to come, definitely.”

Double-headlining on the fire hall stage were Chuck Mignanelli of Pittsburgh, who’s appeared on Comedy Central’s “Crank Yankers” and opened for comedian Kevin James, and Larry DeFelice, best known as the “Elf in the Golf Cart” in a holiday-themed Circuit City commercial and for a string of one-man shows on the NYC comedy club circuit.

Both are on contract with Comedy Blast Inc., which organized the funny men for the fire hall benefit.

Opening comic DeFelice, who’s been on a small, dark stage telling jokes for about 12 years, said he was pleased with the crowd’s energy and enthusiasm.

“They’re drinking, which is a plus,” he said with a laugh.

Bar drinks were included in the ticket price and mixers were on hand for patrons who brought their own liquor. The full-service experience also included a dinner buffet, snacks and refreshments, DJ Tommy Gunnz for some aftershow rug-cutting and, of course, some laughs.

DeFelice said he’s no stranger to the benefit show.

“They’re the best shows – they’re the most fun,” he said. “People are out, they’re ready to have a good time, they wanna’ laugh, they’re drinking, they’re supporting the cause – good time.”

Tickets were $25 in advance and $30 at the door. At the end of last week, Daisley estimated the company was about 50 tickets away from selling out, although the demand was initially unclear.

“It’s been a crazy day,” he said. “We sold probably more tickets in the last week than we did in the last three or four weeks.

“Actually, it was a slow response at first. We were kind of hesitant about the whole idea.”

And that’s standard with most live entertainment ticket sales – the bulk of the seats are usually bought up in the last week by the last-minute types. The show ended up selling 250 out of 300 total seats.

“We’re hoping to make a couple thousand dollars – just (for) equipment purchases and general things we need to keep operating.”

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