Playtime: A night of laughs nearby, benefiting local schools

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I drive past the banner over Caspers Street (you know, the one in front of the Edmonds United Methodist Church) what feels like a thousand times a week. It usually has info on a local event like The Edmonds Arts Festival, The Write on the Sound conference, and the one that always catches my eye, Edmonds Comedy Night held at The Edmonds Center for the Arts.

Last year was the first time, after passing that banner for years, that I made it to the event and it exceeded my expectations. This event is full of pluses on top of it being fun while raising money for local schools: It’s within walking distance of good restaurants, it’s not too far from home which cuts down on babysitter time, and The Edmonds Center for the Arts has a very generous pour.

The show, for those 18 and up, stars comedian Kermet Apio, event co-founder and a parent of children in the Edmonds School District, who has been seen on Comedy Central and NBC. Usually when you hear “this dad from my kid’s school is super funny,” it doesn’t mean more than some guy memorized a lot of lines from movies we all love and has a stable of pun-ny “dad” jokes. But in this case, it’s true… he’s funny. Apio also hosts the event, which will feature three other comedians: Susan Jones, who has appeared on on Up Late Northwest and has opened for Dana Carvey and Rob Schneider; Duane Goad who has appeared on The 206, Up Late Northwest and Comedy Central; and Hans Kim, who was a semi-finalist in both the Seattle Comedy Competition and the San Francisco Comedy Competition.

What is impressive beyond bringing a comedy show with nationally touring comedians to Edmonds, is just how the whole thing started and how much it has helped local schools. I got a chance to catch up with Apio and talk about how this event grew into what it is today. Apio told me it all started when a parent at his kid’s school called him up and said “we need to build a new playground at Terrace Park School, we’re a bit short, let’s figure something out.” That parent was Rachel Egner, co-owner of Steve’s Plumbing, the main sponsor of Edmonds Comedy Night. Apio told me that Egner, the first chair of Edmonds Comedy Night, and her husband Steve have stayed involved with the show even as they no longer have students at Terrace Park. On top of the parent volunteers, it was clear in our conversation just how much the sponsors, like My Edmonds News, mean to the continued success of the event. In fact, that banner that you see on Caspers each year is courtesy of Steve’s Plumbing.

About halfway through its 10-year run, the chair suggested expanding so that other schools could benefit from the continued success the show is having. When you buy your tickets, you can choose the school or group you would like the funds to benefit. This year you can select from Alderwood Middle, Beverly Elementary, Brier Elementary, BTMS Music Boosters, Cedar Way Elementary, College Place Elementary, Edmonds Elementary, EWHS Athletic Boosters, Hazelwood Elementary, Hilltop Elementary, Lynndale Elementary, Madrona School, Martha Lake Elementary, Meadowdale Elementary, Meadowdale HS Track Team, Mountlake Terrace Elementary, MTHS Music Boosters, Oak Heights Elementary, Seaview Elementary, Sherwood Elementary, Terrace Park School, and Westgate Elementary.

What struck me while talking to Apio is the grassroots, put-your-money-where-your- mouth-is force behind this event that he “never thought would get this big.” He credited great committee chairs, who are unpaid volunteer parents, for the growth and success of this event. Those who had the idea, tweaked the way the show was advertised, and do all the legwork are parents who even after their kids leave Terrace Park stay involved with the show one way or another. It is remarkable and inspiring on many levels.

Edmonds Comedy Night is a legit comedy show with the production value of anything I’ve paid twice the ticket price — which is $25 — for. Also, we’ve all complained about something at school we wished was different and for various reasons we aren’t always able to help. This crew saw a need, took their resources, and up and made it happen.

In the show’s fourth year, Apio told me the money provided 30 ukuleles for the music department. It meant a lot to him to watch both of his kids go through the program and use those ukuleles, not only because of how they got there, but because he plays the instrument himself. It should also be mentioned that the playground at Terrace Park, the catalyst for the whole shebang, is really great. If you’re ever at the MLT Recreation Pavilion, the playground is right next to the parking lot and you can see just what they provided. Granted, I’ve only visited a handful of local schools’ play areas, but judging from my kids’ reactions, Terrace Park is at the top.

So, let’s talk about tickets. Saturday Night is SOLD OUT! Heather Margo, current Edmonds Comedy Night chair, said that this sell-out, the event’s first, means that unlike years past, there won’t be any walk-up tickets available at the ECA box office Saturday. The VIP ticket packages are sold out as well. If you love comedy, this is definitely something to look forward to next year as the VIP experience includes appetizers, two drinks from the bar and time with the comedians. Friday night still has tickets available and Margo does expect walk-up tickets to be available at ECA on Friday night as well. For tickets and more information you can visit EdmondsComedyNight.com or EdmondsCenterfortheArts.org.

— By Jennifer Marx

Jen Marx

Jen Marx, a mom of two young boys, is always looking for a fun place to take the kids that makes them tired enough to go to bed on time. You can find her on Twitter trying to make sense of begging kids to ”just eat the mac n cheese” @jen_marx.

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