An evening of laughs is coming Feb. 16 to the Ravenna Elks Lodge, 776 N. Freedom St.
The Ravenna Area Chamber of Commerce will present Comedy Night, including an adult comedy show, steak and chicken buffet, a 50/50 drawing, prizes and more.
Featured comedian Maria Borgio, of Cleveland, has been seen on TV and radio and has headlined comedy clubs and festivals from California to Massachusetts.
Borgio first tried stand-up comedy after she graduated from Bowling Green State University with a marketing degree.
"I had my first and only job in finance and that didn't work out," Borgio said. "One day I was looking for local community theatres to join. I thought it would be fun to meet new people and help out with plays, but I stumbled upon a comedy workshop at the Cleveland Improv. I took the workshop and had no idea that it would change my life."
The first time Borgio performed on stage was in 2001.
"I started like everyone does, doing amateur nights, open mics and bars," Borgio said. "I've played everything from dive bar basements to colleges and it's amazing and I love it."
During her act, Borgio covers a range of topics, from family and love to life lessons.
"Life provides the material," Borgio said. "I don't sit around and make up jokes. My style is conversational and very real. I talk about the things that happen to us in life that we can't believe, the things that we had no idea would happen, the surprises and the turn of events. You can't write that stuff. I simply report it and hopefully the crowd enjoys the irony as much as I do."
Borgio said in order to be a good comedian, you have to care about the audience.
"The most important thing is to care about the crowd," Borgio said. "It's easy for comics to get lazy and to do the same material over and over because it works. Over the years, I've become increasingly aware of how much it took the crowd to even get to that show, whether it's finding a sitter or saving money or finding time in their schedules. They didn't have to chose my show, but they did, and they deserve 100 percent of my time and attention."
Over the years, Borgio said she has learned one or two things about being a comedian.
"I learned that no matter where I go, people are people," Borgio said. "Some good, some bad, but mostly good. The most important thing is that I found my calling and I found something in me that I didn't even know I had or wanted. I'm a lot more relaxed and less impatient as a person now. Everything, and I mean everything, is material. The challenge is taking the bad stuff and making it good. If I get to go around and meet people and make them laugh for a while, I'm a lucky girl."
Chamber President Bruce Kirby said he expects a lot of laughs at the show.
"It should be a very funny and entertaining evening," Kirby said. "We've got some surprises that are set up for the evening. There will be prizes, a 50/50 drawing. It will just be a great time."
Kirby said the dinner menu will offer filet mignon, chicken, potatoes, vegetables, salad and bread.
"The meal we're putting together is going to be very elegant," Kirby said. "The dinner itself is worth the cost of the ticket. It's almost like going out to dinner and getting a free show."
Kirby said the chamber has wanted to do an entertainment event like the comedy show for a while.
"We have a chamber board that gets together and we think about events to bring people together, whether it's a lunch or an entertainment event," Kirby said. "We had previously gone to a show Dan Long was involved in years ago and we thought lets go ahead and get together and basically do it right."
Kirby said the goal of comedy night is to bring people together.
"We want to bring as many people as we can together to have a good time in a very relaxed atmosphere," Kirby said. "We want to try to get out members out and about and give them something to enjoy.
The chamber hopes to put a twist on its regular events with this comedy show.
"I think it's unique," Kirby said. "This type of show is going to be like being at a comedy night club. It's going to have lighting and everything will be set up accordingly. It's not something that happens all the time. That's why I think it's going to be a big draw, it's something different than the norm. Many times when the chamber or other agencies put together events so many times, we repeat the same things, but this is not a typical show or venue."
Kirby said he expects more than 200 people to attend the comedy show.
"We're almost at capacity at the lodge, so we don't want it to get too crowded, but we want the most people to get involved as possible," Kirby said. "We're hoping it will be a great success and we also hope if it is that we can do it again in the future."
Comedy Night is in support of the Ravenna Area Chamber of Commerce. Money from the 50/50 drawing will go toward the chamber's scholarship fund.
Host and master of ceremonies Dan Long was born and raised in Ravenna and has hosted at comedy clubs across the country.
Headlining the show is Bruce Haynes, whose comedy has been described as "somewhere between Cosby's family satire to Pryor's urban wit." His "observational humor" exposes the laughable quirks of ordinary people and has entertained audiences across the country.
Also performing is a new award-winning local comedian from Rootstown, Bill Sporck.
Doors open at 6:15 p.m., dinner is served at 7 and the show starts at 8:30. Tickets are $30 per person and seating is limited.
To purchase tickets, see a chamber board member or visit the Ravenna chamber at 135 E. Main St.
For more information, call 330-296-3886.
Contact this reporter at 330-298-1123