Saturday, June 25, 2016

Orlando Strong: A SAK Benefit Show.

SAK Comedy Lab (29 S Orange Ave, Orlando, Florida) offered a free comedy benefit in the wake of recent events in Orlando. The core values at SAK have always been "Truth, Excellence and Joy", so wanted to use their strengths as a comedy venue to share those values in support of the community (especially the LGBT and Latino communities) who could really use some joy. This show will featured SAK performers in a variety of fun acts. Admission was free, but donations were encouraged at the door. 100% of proceeds from the door will go to the "OneOrlando" campaign helping the victims and families of victims of the Pulse attack.

The Fringe superstar and fashion diva Pepe acted at the MC to open the show. He wore a gorgeous rainbow feathered boa that looked like, could inspire love, the most hate for person. As he said it was a sexy sold out house. All the mammies and poppies held each other dose as Pepe announced the first acts. Every seat in the venue had a sheet of colored paper. Bob Kodzis invited every member of the audience to write down a message for families of the decided survivors and first responders. There was an artist sketch! in the row in front of me. He held two fingers to his neck like he was checking his pulse. I believe he was sketching one of the 49 who were killed using a photo on his phone as reference.

A video set to the song, "Carry on" opened the evening. It showcased what people used to imagine about Orlando, with photos of Disney theme parks,and I-4 traffic. Then shots taken outside Pulse of the evening of the attack were replaced with photos of crowds coming together in grief an love culminating in the huge 50,000 strong Lake Eola vigil. The point of course is that we must carry on and let the work see that we are more than a tourists cliche. It was an inspiring vision of we could be without ever forgetting.

We were all ready for some laughs and the huge crew of comedians delivered. What the show real I delivered besides laughs, was joy. The comedy lab only held two other benefits in it's 25 year history. The first was after 9/11 and the second after hurricane Charlie and his two other companions. The founder of SAK told us about his visit to the memorial outside the Dr, Phillips Center for performing arts. He was seated at one of the tables and there was another woman seated at the same table. He didn't know her. She reached out her hand, and he took it.  They sat holding hands for 5 minutes an then she left. They never spoke a word. What if this was our everyday Standard behavior? What if we all loved more then we have ever loved before? The world would certainly be a better place.

During the auction, Pepe and another performer said they would match whatever was bid on a dinner for two. The item went for $100 after heated bidding. The event raised $4384.00, SAK matched that amount bringing the total to $8,768.00. After the show, all the performers got on stage for a spontaneous dance party. "I wanna dance with somebody"of course we all got up and joined in. Laughter and Joy bring healing.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

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