Brashinger: Frankfort comedian wants to give audiences ‘something fresh and new’
By Ginger Brashinger Citizen Journalistemail@example.com January 10, 2013 3:00PM
Dennis Miller (from left), a nationally syndicated talk show host and comedian, shares a laugh with Ken Sevara and his wife, Lori Klinka. | Supplied Photo
Updated: February 14, 2013 6:16AM
Ken Sevara, a nationally recognized entertainer, hard-working entrepreneur and all-around funny guy, has added another notch to his entertainment belt.
When the longtime South Sider returned to the area nearly seven years ago and settled in Frankfort with his wife, Lori, he hit the ground running.
Sevara teamed up with Dean Vaundry and Chuck JaBaay, owners of CD & ME, to give comedy in the ‘burbs a try.
A few minutes onstage during a summer concert series led to a winter season comedy club, and before long, Sevara became partners with Vaundry and JaBaay in the successful enterprise “Laugh the Night Away.”
Busy people just get busier, and Sevara is no exception. He hosts “Fly by Night” on WIND-AM (560) at midnight on Saturdays.
“What we are trying to do — because WIND has great political talk shows all week — is provide the audience with an alternative entertainment on the weekends,” Sevara said.
Sevara said Carl Amari’s “Hollywood 360” and the “Twilight Zone” radio dramas on either side of his show have “locked up late-night entertainment” on WIND.
That doesn’t mean Sevara gives any less time or energy to the comedy club.
The goal, Sevara said, is to continue to give the audiences something fresh and new.
“This is our sixth season, and I think we’ve grown a lot in our attitude about what we should bring to the public,” Sevara said.
He said the partners know they have a very loyal audience, but they are working hard to help it grow.
“Everybody here has worked themselves into a coma trying to make it better every year,” Sevara said. “We’ve tried different acts on different nights, added music and dinners. We’ve added great bands to the winter concert series just like the summer.”
And although Sevara will admit that the music portion of the show is not his forte, he acknowledges the quality and appeal of bands such as Five Guys Named Moe, Johnny and Coax, and Classical Blast, among others, are a definite draw.
“Now we’re bringing in something new again this season,” Sevara said.
The opening-night performance on Jan. 11, which was scheduled to feature WGN Morning News personalities Pat Tomasulo, Ana Belaval and Mike Toomey performing a triple dose of comedy for the first time on the CD & ME stage, is one example of the quality the club has committed to this year.
Also brand-new to the lineup is Vicki Quade and Maripat Donovan’s “Late Night Catechism,” a long-running staple of comedy theater in the Chicago area that will be one of four Saturday night shows, some with a dinner-package option.
“We researched it,” Sevara said. “We thought we’d like to try a theatrical production. It’s a good show. It’s battle-tested.”
Many comedians who will return are “tried-and-true” acts with a fan base who want their friends to see the acts, too.
And that’s right up the comedy club’s alley.
“There are guys who we bring back because a lot of people haven’t seen them yet,” Sevara said. “Our major focus is on Frankfort, Mokena, New Lenox — the immediate area. There are still a ton of people who haven’t seen our shows.”
One popular local act, Rocky LaPorte, performed last year with Sonya White to a sell-out crowd. That success will be repeated this season.
“Normally we wouldn’t repeat like that, but when you get something that works that well . . . ,” Sevara said.
Sevara said young, fresh talent is always included, but despite their “first-timers” ranking for “Laugh the Night Away,” those who perform at the comedy club have earned their way in.
“We’re not going to hire amateurs,” Sevara said. “We don’t want anybody learning on the job. We always want very strong shows so we have two or three headliners.”
Sevara said he, Vaundry and JaBaay have respect for their patrons and want to maintain the high quality of performances, always keeping it fresh.
“I think our audience has grown into a more sophisticated comedy crowd,” Sevara said. “They know it’s going to be consistent. They know it’s going to be tight. They know it’s going to be good.”
The question is, Sevara said, “How can we make them happier?”
For more information about Sevara, visit www.kensevara.com or www.lightenupentertainment.com.
Visit www.cdandme.com or call (708) 469-7315 for schedules and ticket information.