Top TV comics on Martha’s Vineyard this weekend

Top TV comics on Martha’s Vineyard this weekend

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Steve Capers, president of Knock-Knock Productions, and producer of Martha's Vineyard Comedy Fest. — Photo courtesy of Knock-Knock Productions

“Knock knock.”

“Who’s there?”

“Betcha.”

“Betcha who?”

Betcha can’t stop laughing when Knock-Knock Productions Inc. (KKPI) pulls into town this weekend with the first Martha’s Vineyard Comedy Fest sponsored by cable television channel HBO and Uptown magazine.

Steve Capers, president of KKPI, has planned four weekends of comedy shows, bringing television comedy headliners from HBO, Showtime, and BET to the 134-seat Katharine Cornell Theatre for 24 shows on 12 dates, beginning this weekend.

On Friday night at 7:30 pm and again at 9 pm. Roz G, winner of NBC’s “Last Comic Standing” series and Marlon Mitchell of Chicago will be on stage. Tickets are $27.50 online at mvcomedy.com or $30 at the door. Other comics booked include AJ Jamal from “In Living Color” and Rudy Rush of the Doug Banks Show.

The July schedule includes Stan The Mann on July 13 through 15. In August, Rudy Rush and Damon Williams will appear on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, Aug. 18 through 20. AJ Jamal and Da Wildcat perform on Aug. 24 through 26.

The comedy concert series is the brainchild of Steve Capers, a Chicago-area impresario whose comedy production company tailors comedy routines for a variety of audiences from corporate get-togethers, roasts, fundraisers, and public venues. The company’s signature event is called Funny First Saturdays, Chicago™, a comedy showcase running for five consecutive years. For more information, visit funnyfirstsaturdays.com.

“We have talent that’ll turn the Island upside-down,” Mr. Capers said by phone from Chicago last week. “I think this is a good idea for the Vineyard. My family has traveled to the Vineyard for many years so I know a little bit about the Island and its tastes, and I think it will be a great place for a comedy festival.”

The comedy will not feature knock-knock jokes but will include comedic social commentary. “Basically our show is profanity-free and displays a lot of range. We think the show will appeal both to residents and to tourists. While it’s profanity-free, the material is geared to a 21 and older audience. The point of our material is to not take life so seriously, to poke fun at ourselves,” he said.

Mr. Capers has nearly 20 years in the entertainment/comedy business, including stints at BET and at Comedy Central working with Jon Stewart, Ben Stein, Lewis Black, and Sinbad among others, before creating his own comedy production company.

The comedy fest takes its direction from comics like Bill Cosby, Nipsey Russell, Whoopi Goldberg, Dick Gregory, Richard Pryor, and Paul Mooney among others, Mr. Capers said. “Stand-up comedy in America offers a reflection of society today through a comedic lens. It has a rich legacy rooted in minstrel shows and vaudeville, evolving into what is known today as stand-up comedy,” Mr. Capers said.

“Our audiences never have to worry about insensitive comments or put-downs. We have taken the initiative to challenge comics from using derogatory words in their stand-up performances. We take pride in demonstrating to the entertainment community that comedy does not lose its integrity when offensive words are omitted,” he said.

With its own rich legacy, Mr. Capers says, “the Katharine Cornell Memorial Theatre is a suitable place for the Martha’s Vineyard Comedy Fest.”

Comedy: Marlon Mitchell & Roz G. Thurs.–Sat., July 7–9, 7:30 & 9 pm, Katharine Cornell Theatre, Vineyard Haven. Sponsored by HBO. $27.50 general admission; $40 VIP front-row. 312-576-4890; marthasvineyardcomedy.com.

Jack Shea, of Vineyard Haven, is a frequent contributor to The Times.