This was the fifth annual 'Fullerton Cares Autism Coalition Foundation's Comedy Show for Autism' event with heavy-hitter comics, for a serious heavy-hitting cause.
Fullerton Cares was brought to life by a Fullerton businessman named Larry Houser. His son was diagnosed with Autism at a tender age. He was unsure of what to do next, as so many of us parents whose children are affected as well, feel. As it says in his quick Bio in the programs given describing how all of this came about, feeling alone and scared, a friend had invited him to participate in the Walk for Autism Speaks Event, at the Angels Stadium. With encouragement from his mother, he attended, participated and had an overwhelming response of support from his family, friends and fellow business owners on Facebook (he had posted on Facebook prior to the event).
Yes, Larry Houser happens to be a daddy whose child is affected with Autism. That, of course, feels like a hit to the head to hear for any parent. Larry also happens to be that person who was in the right place at the right time, who knew the right people who offered to reach out and give the right kind of help. A friend and manager of a local restaurant, Dan Ebert, offered his location to host a comedy night to help raise money for Larry's walk and together with over two hundred and fifty people attending, they raised over three thousand dollars for his first walk.
It was that moment Larry say's he realized just how many people did care and he was reminded of the amazing place he lives and operates a business in. Larry and co-owner John Skehan, have an awesome New Orleans Style Restaurant in the popular part of downtown Fullerton, Ca. called Bourbons Street Bar-N-Grill. The food is amazing, and the people are caring. If you go that way, please stop in and give them a try. Summer Dabbs, as a Fullerton Cares director, and Larry's better half, hosted a great dinner for the Special Olympics Athletes and their families and liaisons there recently. The City Of Fullerton was chosen for the first time as one of the host cities this year during their official LA. Games.
It was not long after that walk that Fullerton Cares was brought to life, and the Autism community (which are many) got a HUGE rock moved out of our way. With all the functions and fundraising needed to fund the numerous Autism programs for what is needed in public schools the most, but is not in the school budget, Fullerton Cares has been able to help provide. It is amazing how many Autism community programs they back, support and help start. They have even sent their special needs programs director, Robin Hogerhuis, to show owners and instructors how to work with our kids, so that they can offer their special arts to more in the community, for more in the community need it. Some of the classes now offered include Fullerton's CF Dance Academy Autism/Special-needs Dance Class, known as Everybody Dance Now; OC Kickboxing & MMA's Autism/special needs self-defense/self-discipline class in Irvine, Ca.; and CF's special-needs music and rhythm class, called Everybody Move Now. (More info can be found at http://www.cfdance.net/category/cf-dance-elite/)
Now fast forward to Wednesday, October 21st, 2015, to the fifth annual 'Comedy Show For Autism' event night. Serious heavy-hitter comedians were volunteering their time and effort for this wonderful cause. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, all of these big name, busy comics, came into this little-big city, and out of the kindness and goodness of their own big hearts, gave all of their funny to raise money for our kiddos! They came together to help the children that need extra help to understand, or need extra acknowledgment (though they do not ask for it themselves, for many can not) who need extra encouragement to reach goals. They came for the kids who just need another way to learn, to understand how to connect, for they just want to be accepted and acknowledged as any child would want. Though many are turned away simply because they are misunderstood. These comedians get it. They understand. They help. They support. The goal being to raise more awareness, to see that these children need everyone's help to obtain the best possible quality of life.
At the Historic Fox Theater, in the heart of downtown Fullerton, comedians Joshua Meyrowitz, Keith Reza, Kate Quigley, host Jeff Garcia, last year's returning host George Perez, Sam Tripoli, and Tom "Mr. Cracked us all up" Green himself, helped Fullerton Cares Autism Coalition Foundation make this the BEST Comedy Show For Autism night, ever! They were all so funny!
Upon arrival to the pre-party, happening in the big enclosed parking area to the Fox theater, the Musical Band SUPERNAKED was playing (no, not playing naked, ha, ha) on the big makeshift stage with the Comedy Show For Autism logo plastered across it. People were rocking in lines as they waited to purchase Tee shirts, drinks, and food. All of it provided by the many vendors, local and nonlocal, who were also volunteering their time and products, simply doing their part to help raise funds for the cause as well.
Located in the center of the vendors, was an area blocked off for the press to speak and take interviews with all the Comedians and the Fullerton Cares Founder and Directors, as well as any other heavy hitters there to support the cause. We (my family) are part of the FC regular volunteers, and one of our children who benefits from the programs FC backs and supports was asked to go on stage with a few of the other kids, to thank all involved prior to the show. So as an added bonus, I was able to grab a selfie with Comic Joshua Meyrowitz, along with a picture of a few of the fellows from the band SUPERNAKED! They even posed with some of our kids. I snapped a picture of funny guy, Sam Tripoli, with both Larry Houser and Summer Dabbs.
They all gave me permission to post, and I was so very happy they did. This was such a great crowd to be around. So many people in the community came out to show support. That is what helps make this a wonderful place to live. So many people have found it in their hearts to support this cause and are now helping to spread awareness. It is heartwarming to know how many have traveled from afar just for this special fundraising night of big laughs. It truly was a sight to see so many come together. For families affected by autism, these special events do truly make a huge difference. They greatly help fund what these children (and their families) may not normally be able to achieve on their own. Trust me!
When the show began, everyone took their seats. The young son of Larry Houser, the inspiration for Fullerton Cares, gave a speech! This was remarkable as he had been non-verbal for the first several shows (meaning the first several years) and had been practicing very hard all week to give a speech. He and his friends came out on stage, escorted by his (essentially) big sis and her girl scout troop, and gave an outstanding speech! It was applauded greatly, and he then led the kids in a big Thank You to everyone involved! Then as kids do, he must have thought, 'hmmm it needed something more,' so with his wonderful imagination and caring heart to include everyone, he led the kids on stage as well as the whole audience, in an impromptu song of ABC's! It was a song that all could enjoy and would definitely know. It was so adorable! You could hear the entire theater echoing the Alphabet song back to the stage, something we all remember so well from childhood, in unison with the kids. And though we could not see the Comedians backstage, I can almost bet they were laughing and singing along too. It would have been almost impossible not to.
The kids giggled and laughed as they were applauded on stage. One child even had his Tall Black Top Hat and Black magician cape on, his impression of the Hat Box Ghost, a Disneyland Haunted Mansion character, ever so looking the part of a kid who belonged on stage. Then they were then guided off by the adults (Robin Hogerhuis being one of them) and the girl scouts, who had walked them on and stayed with them the entire time.
Colored lights began moving around and the first comedian took the blue colored stage with the Fullerton Cares, now famous logo, projected on the top of the brick wall in the background in blue. It was host Jeff Garcia warming up the crowd with a few rounds of his own and making everyone relax and start to feel at ease with some funny from his routine, prior to introducing the first act up, Mr. Joshua Meyrowitz.
Joshua Meyrowitz is a funny comic based in LA and is on the high-functioning end of the Autism spectrum himself (Asperger's Syndrome). His jokes to the Autism community are right on the mark, and we totally get what he says along with how and why he says what he says. Joshua is someone I have had the pleasure of laughing at before, and as before, he made everyone lean forward in their seat as they laughed and enjoyed his sense of humor. He is good at making people realize that just because you're on the spectrum, does not mean you can not succeed. Joshua Meyrowitz is proof in the pudding that if you can set your mind to what you really want to do, then even an Autism diagnosis should not stop you. He animatedly made the crowd have a good time, making them want more when he was done. Fortunately for us, there was more...In fellow funny guy Keith.
Mr. Keith Reza is also a comic on the high-end zone of the Autism spectrum, and one whom I have seen before as well. I do like catching his stand-ups. He has a great way of telling his life stories in such a funny way, that you can not help but laugh out loud and say, "Yes, I hear YA! HA!" I most certainly saw people bouncing in their seats saying, "Oh My Gosh, I can totally see that happening to so and so". So he also had ordinary people connected, relating to what he was saying. This is why I like to catch his acts. We are people connected to that life too. He definitely got the crowd worked up and ready for more.
Now between, our host Mr. Jeff Garcia, an actor and writer himself (known for Happy Feet, The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron ( Boy Genius ) and Happy Feet two), had us rolling in our seats and telling us a few little funnies here and there himself while introducing the next comedians. This time, he brought out the only female comic amongst all that male testosterone, Ms. Kate Quigley! Oh man.... or gals..... If you have not seen her yet, you should! She is AWESOME! Though Kate was the only female funny entangled in all those man jokes, she had some of the best lines of the night! From the sounds and cat calls coming from the ladies seated behind me...some of the most eager female fans, too, they wanted to have her speak more of how hard it is dating men and how she may start looking at the other team for satisfaction. By the sounds of it, Kate had more than enough people, both genders alike, wanting to fill those shoes. She is a very attractive women and Kate's comebacks to the audience's advances were even funnier and probably better than if it had been scripted.
Kate Quigley was a great lead up to Tom Green, who was the next and the most anticipated comedian (though not last) of the night. Tom Green has a big heart for bringing his big name to this big little city, delivering big laughs to this great cause. He was so damn funny! His extremely animated expressed opinion on how married-people-should-NOT-be-on-Facebook, jokes killed! The awesomely twisted facial expressions he made whilst shaking his head as he mimicked Facebook conversations between. "OLD FRIENDS." LOL. WINK. WINK. WINK. was the best! We all laughed so hard at his antics of social media taking over, then when he saw people working their social media profiles while he was talking about it, made for the best impromptu act! He had us shaking our heads and waving our arms in the air at some of the most hilarious stuff we've ever heard. He is a pro at comebacks to the audience and being able to quickly turn any situation into a joke, showed! Tom Green Killed it at the Fox Theater and we all hope he will come back next year for this annual event. Fingers crossed...Wink Wink Tom. HA!
Of course, the night would not be complete without the next two comics. Last years returning host George Perez took stage next and as we remembered so fondly from the year before, George Perez is just as much of a crack up as ever. He was the host last year for a reason. He himself has a long list of credentials including appearing on Comedy Central, SHOWTIME, Mind of Mencia, just to name a few. His jokes of being a Latino in today's society are great and relatable to many, who were just having the best time being entertained by him. He confessed he recently became a Christian, so Amen to that, for trying to change your life for the better, for your soul. It is not an easy task for many, and all it did was just add to his funny and make him a better comedian. Again, all these wonderful comedians came together to volunteer their time and talent, so this is truly an amazing event.
Closing this much needed and appreciated laugh fest, was none other then Mr. Sam Tripoli. Taking time out of his busy schedule (he has a new show called "The Wild World Of Spike", on Spike TV, as well as making appearances everywhere) he still managed to bring his unique twist of humor to the Comedy Show For Autism, and make the audience ooh and ah and laugh their butts off. He heckled the few in the audience that tried to heckle him first, but of course when a pro like Sam is doing the heckling, you get some pretty damn good laughs out of it. It was the best night ever! These awesome human beings that came together out of the goodness in their hearts, just for the benefit of other little human beings, they do not even know but have a heart for, was just AMAZING!
Fullerton Cares and this fantastic line up of awesome comedians truly brought the community together on Wednesday, October 21st, 2015, for an amazing cause that affects so many families these days. The kindness and hard work coming straight from their hearts did something wonderful for many children and their families, and yes I can say for a fact, these events change kids lives for the better. It brings acceptance home for many and is making so many more people, aware of what our kids truly can be when given the chance. Joshua and Keith being that extra inspiration for our kiddos on the spectrum as well. A Big Thank You to all involved. If it was not for the kindness and support of others, one person feeling lost and alone, once upon a time, might not have been able to move that huge rock, that let so many more come forward and be seen too. Take a bow... you deserve it! Extra special thanks to the extra hard working Heather Lane, who also helped make all this run as smoothly as it did.
Though I missed John Easdale's performance (lead singer from DramaRama), I did manage to grab a selfie with him and the FC special needs program director. He usually attends these events as he has always been a big supporter for the cause. The press people pictured for KVLA are from OC Autism, Julie Diep Slp (holding MIC) is the founder and director for them, but as you can see, many Autism foundations come together to help each other out to spread the word to even more. That is truly what this is all about.
I'm Dilly Brigs and my family is one affected. So I add my personal THANK YOU, too.