Stand-up comics entertain Elks, but compete with theatre opening

March 6, 2017

The opening night of the Fox Theatre was a tough act to beat for stand-up comics Wesley Ward and Jerry Donovan, both of Detroit, Mich.

They were the entertainers Friday night at the monthly Comedy Night at the Fort Madison Elks Lodge. The crowd of about 25 was smaller than expected, and the comics had to compete with Hugh Jackman’s Logan and Lego Batman at the theatre.

Before the show, both men talked about what inspired them to get in comedy – and sometimes they gave serious answers.

“I was always into comedy,” said Donovan, who was the headliner following Ward. “I was the middle kid out of six Irish kids and got lost in the shuffle.”

Ward said he was the middle of three and that, “My dad rarely cared where I was.”

So they turned those life experiences into a stand-up comic routine, inspired by the comedians of their day.

“Red Skelton was the first person I was enamored with,” Donovan said. “I grew up in the golden era of sitcoms: Bob Newhart, Mary Tyler Moore....” As for stand-up, “Richard Pryor was the game-changer.”

His current favorite is Bill Burr, who has a show on Netflix.

Ward listened to George Carlin albums growing up, “the clean side when my mom was in the room,” Ward said, and the off-color side when she wasn’t.

Ward said comedy is hard, “because you have to do it so much until you get good,” and even then, a great comic can have a bad night.

Donovan said the two work a lot of fraternal organizations and some clubs. “We do a lot of one-nighters,” he said.

Connections Bank and Insurance sponsored the show. The Elks Club hosts comics the first Friday of each month.