Many good laughs are sure to be had at the Veterans HEAT Factory Fundraiser, set for 7 p.m. Saturday, January 30, at the VFW Post 10209, 14376 Edward Noll Drive, Spring Hill.
Opening with a spirited performance by Elliott Smith and his comedy magic, the show's main attraction will be "The Comedy Time-Tunnel" presented by Tony Belmont, founder of the National Comedy Hall of Fame Museum and veteran Broadway show promoter.
"This show is a multi-media, award-winning presentation of the history of comedy from vaudeville to the present day," read a related event notice. "Tony has presented this show all over the U.S. to packed houses." Snacks and drinks will be available for purchase, as will a cash bar, 50/50 raffles, and a silent auction.
In the eyes of Gus Guadagnino, CEO of Veterans HEAT Factory, a little light-hearted entertainment is exactly what audiences need right now. "Comedy is exactly what we need to deal with the anxiety," he said. And with the funds generated through this event, much more help and relief will be delivered to those who gave so much for our country. The mission statement of the nonprofit 501 c3 Veterans HEAT Factory, 16230 Aviation Loop, Brooksville, (352-251-7015) is, “Empowering Veterans and First Responders who have PTSD through services that unlock their full potential, inspire personal growth, encourage community integration and support their ability to re-enter the workforce and achieve lifelong success.”
Although not a veteran, Gus Guadagnino comes from a family of those who served. And although disqualified from service because of colorblindness, he nonetheless felt compelled to give back to those who gave all. "In this way I can help my country and my community," he said.
The Veterans HEAT (H.E.A.T. = Honoring Empowering Assisting Training) Factory is a free of charge 14-week program for Veterans and First Responders with PTSD. It incorporates an exercise program overseen by professional trainers, yoga classes, art therapy, job assistance, weekly group meetings that address anxiety and anger management, relationships, self-care, nutrition, improving communication skills, etc.
"We're working on a shoestring budget," said Guadagnino, who presently is trying to secure more phone lines for needed services, as well as retain additional staff and physical space to help administer those services. "We're trying to do whatever we can," he said. "Whatever we need to do." Those involved in the Jan. 30 fund-raiser are pleased to do their part to help area veterans.
"As a former combat U.S Marine, I support all veteran activities," said Tony Belmont, founder of the National Comedy Hall of Fame Museum and writer of the Broadway play, Beatlemania.
The official National Comedy Hall of Fame, located at 2435 US-19 in Holiday, "is a not-for-profit entity that pays tribute to the legacy of all forms of comedy in our history and the laughter we have enjoyed over all the years."
In 1991, The National Comedy Hall of Fame was established by Belmont, Jan Murray, Morey Amsterdam, Sid Caesar, and Milton Berle at the L.A. Friar’s Club to honor "the work of comedians or the history of comedy." The National Comedy Hall of Fame became an official organization, authorized by the Library of Congress and trademarked in the United States, United Kingdom, Northern Ireland, and Canada. The museum features a vast collection of comedy memorabilia which includes original movie posters, comedy albums, authentic puppets, studio photographs and more. Short films that display rare footage accompany each comedian’s exhibit.
The Comedy Time-Tunnel show, set to be the centerpiece of the HEAT Factory fundraiser, includes recorded interviews, rare footage and trivia games (with prizes) that teach audience members about the history of comedy.
The Comedy Time-Tunnel, is a one-hour journey that illustrates the history of comedy. The journey begins with the first great American Comedian in the City of Boston 1787 and proceeds through the 1800’s, vaudeville, stand-up, theater, film, and then on to the early days of radio, and the beginning of television comedy.
Belmont adapted the Time-Tunnel from personal interviews he'd conducted with legendary comics, compiling them at the request of a veterans hospital that strove to entertain patients.
"This is how this all started, something for the veterans," said Belmont. "I once had a veteran tell me that, after watching the films, he was a kid at the matinee again, watching Abbott and Costello, enjoying Juicy Fruit, laughing… He said, ‘For a few moments, I forgot about everything else’."
For more information and pricing please call: (727)-541-7876 or email [email protected]
Elliott Smith is also eager to put his comedic talents to work in the service of veterans.
"On Saturday, January 30th, I will be the opening act at a fundraiser for The Veterans HEAT Factory with all funds raised going to help our Veterans and First Responders suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The fact is that many veterans not only struggle to reconnect with family and friends and to fit into society, but often feel that they have no sense of purpose," said Smith.
"Being involved and connected to this fundraiser and aiding in its cause is very near and dear to me as both my father and father-in-law were veterans. When they returned from war, there was no one and certainly no organizations in place to help them recover emotionally and help them integrate back into society. It was totally left up to them to do it on their own with whatever limited resources and help they could find, if any."
Smith hopes to add a magical touch to the proceedings.
"I will be performing my highly interactive comedy magic show which will captivate you and is packed with humor and surprises you will not soon forget. This show, which is appropriate for audiences of all ages, is comprised of illusion and mentalism maximizing the use of comedy, wit, lots of audience participation and 'fun' with many hilarious moments. If you are looking to laugh and have a great time, this is the show – it will be a great night," he said.
The ticket cost for the fundraiser event is $20, and can be purchased at https://www.veteransheatfactory.com/upcoming-events
or call 352-799-5456.