David Benoit tries his hand at stand-up comedy while introducing the AAYO 508 Jazz ensemble at Live at The Lounge. Photo by Kevin Cody
After years of juggling conflicting schedules, two of the South Bay’s most important entertainment figures finally joined forces on Sunday, October 28 to present an evening of music, magic and comedy for a good cause and an appreciative audience.
The evening was put together by composer and keyboard recording artist David Benoit and Comedy and Magic Club owner Michael Lacey, two longtime friends who had been looking for an opportunity to work together.
Benoit has parlayed his successful jazz recording career into a position as musical director of the Asia America Symphony, and its auxiliary youth orchestra.
As a result, he enjoys the enviable position of having both a jazz band and a symphony, not only to perform with, but to perform his compositions. In short, he has everything a musician could want, except his own club.
Lacey owns not only the Comedy and Magic Club, but also the next door Live at the Lounge, a 99-seat room with sound and video recording systems that are unequaled in the South Bay.
Opening the Sunday evening show was Australian comedian and late night TV regular Jim Short, who recently appeared on “The Letterman Show” with Al Gore.
“If you want to appear hilarious on TV, have Al Gore go on before you,” he advised.
Short was followed by magician Joel Ward, who put a match to audience volunteer Masako Unoura Tanaka’s $100 bill, and then recovered bill from the inside of an uncut apple.
The evening was titled “Cabaret Night.” Both Lacey and Benoit are known for mixing up their programs.
For his part, Benoit first brought to the stage South Bay violin phenom Jackson Snead to perform a Bach sonata. He was followed by the Asia America Youth Orchestra Woodwind Trio with Isabella Sanchez on flute, Molly Srour on clarinet and Austin Young on a candy apple red bassoon. They performed selections from Handel’s “Royal Fireworks Music Suite.”
To complete the evening Benoit joined the youth orchestra’s jazz group for a set highlighted by Chick Corea’s “Spain.”
Benoit had the audience so enthralled that he even ventured into stand-up.
“What’s the difference between a viola and a violin?” he asked. The answer: “A viola burns longer.”
What finally brought Lacey and Benoit together was their shared desire to support local performers. Sunday’s show was a benefit for the Asia America Symphony Guild. Hopefully, the evening’s success will spur more collaborative efforts by the two complementary entertainment figures. ER