Rhea Of Light

Four stand-up comics with credits on various network television shows performed the first Stand-Up Showcase of the Lucille Ball Comedy Festival on Thursday evening at the Reg Lenna Center for the Arts.

Caroline Rhea was the headliner of the evening, supported by Moody McCarthy, Carmen Lynch and Andrew Norelli. Rhea started the performance, and returned to the stage after each of her three colleagues’ performances, to tie the evening together. Rhea created an energy and a drive to keep the nearly full audience involved and laughing heartily.

Rhea, who is probably most recognized for her featured role on the television series “Sabrina, the Teenaged Witch,” found a lot of her humor in the fact that she is now 49 years old, and is the mother of a 5-year-old daughter.

She told self-aimed stories about being mistaken for her daughter’s grandmother and about the harsh truths which young children say, without meaning to be cruel. She picked some targets in the audience, teasing a young woman who was trying to take a photo of her from the front row, and finally lying down flat on her stomach, because she said photos taken from below just showed many layers of chins.

She asked people to call out how long they had been married, and found a couple who have celebrated 60 years together. She brought them up onto the stage to pose with her for a picture, and gave the woman a small bunch of flowers. Sadly, she didn’t mention that she is a Canadian native until nearly the end of her part of the program, because there were many Canadians in the audience who reacted enthusiastically to her references to her native land.

Rhea yielded the floor to Moody McCarthy, who announced himself to be a native of Syracuse. He tried to get some common feeling from the audience with tough winter jokes, although he didn’t seem to understand how many in the seats were not local residents. Perhaps his most successful hit was saying that he now lives in the New York City borough of Queens. He said the city will take possession of any vehicle being driven by a driver who had been drinking. He said that would never happen in the western part of the state because if they did that, we wouldn’t have any snowplows.

He commented on getting older in life, complaining that someone had broken into his apartment but didn’t steal one of his tapes. He said the secret for anyone who feels unproductive is to get a dog because watching how little they actually do can make you feel better about yourself.

He mentioned that one of his brothers owes him so much money, for Christmas he gives the brother a gift certificate for himself, good for part of his debt.

Rhea wandered back on to comment that because she was 44 when she gave birth to her daughter, the hospital took many images of her. She said she was ready to start her own Internet network, to rival YouTube, called “My Tubes.”

Carmen Lynch came next. She announced herself to be 6 feet tall and complained that tall men usually want to date short women, so she finds herself out with short men, and can’t bear to hold hands with them, because she feels like their Mommy.

She said the only pet she was allowed to have as a child was a goldfish and now when she feels sad and lonely, she finds herself hugging glass objects.

Rhea returned for a series of jokes about snoring, during which she produced some grinding noises worthy of a wood chipper.

Comic Andrew Norelli announced that he is half-Italian and half-Norwegian, but he complained that when he meets fans who are Italian, they are full of questions about whether his family is from Lombardy or Sicily or Venice and what his favorite pasta is, but he has never yet been asked if his ancestors were from Oslo or Narvik or Bergin and what is his favorite kind of fish. He said this, little realizing that he might be in exactly the community which might ask him those questions.

He did some jokes about wanting to become a doctor and to be a general practitioner, because when patients told him they had a complaint, he could reply that it wasn’t his specialty.

He urged couples who were married for a long time to stay together, because he said you were going to end up hating the other person in any long-term relationship, so you should hate the one you’re with.

The evening was popular, the audience was enthusiastic, and the energy and the motion were exciting. It was a great beginning to the festival.