By Barbara Bullington
Carolina Men Guest Author
The Greenville, N.C. area seems to be on track when it comes to making people laugh.
In early May, I.C. (Intellectually Challenged) Improv made its debut at Winterville’s Coffee Shack. I.C. is self-described on its Facebook page as “a strange assortment of funny people who manage to entertain you.”
“We have myself, Mike Bean, Jeff Cross, Jennifer Eissing, JJ Hodges, Heather Irvin, and Tabitha Poorman, in the group,” related William W. White. “We plan to perform at least once a month, and hopefully more, at different venues.”
Another improv ensemble, Ooops!, was formed in 2005. Although currently on hiatus, the troupe has performed in a variety of venues and towns, including regular appearances at Tipsy Teapot in Greenville.
Matt White, a member of Ooops!, is also a standup comedian. He formed Seriously Clowning—a group of comedians who perform standup, improv and sketch comedy—with another student, Matt Dawes, at East Carolina University in 2005. Since then, White has won numerous awards, including DSI Comedy’s “Carolina’s Funniest Comic” in 2013. When not taking his act on the road to states such as California, Ohio and New Jersey, White can be found cracking up crowds at North Carolina establishments, such as Peasant’s Pub in Greenville.
Tiebreakers Sports Bar and Grill in Greenville also hosts performers, including Inner Banks Improv. And Peasant’s Pub holds Open Mic nights for tried and true performers as well as brave novices.
The plethora of comedy talent isn’t the only reason to smile. Many of the performers support non-profits. This past December for instance, Ooops! donated a portion of ticket proceeds—along with funds raised from a 50/50 raffle—to the Center for Family Violence Prevention.
A March-April 2014, five-day Hilarity for Charity comedy festival brought in more than $2,000 to benefit the Alzheimer’s Association. Actor Seth Rogen established Hilarity for Charity in 2011 and the organization launched a program that encourages and supports Hilarity for Charity events nationwide.
Dr. Eric Shouse, an assistant professor in the School of Communication at East Carolina University, appeared in all five of the Greenville Hilarity for Charity shows. Shouse is not only a professor, but a professional standup comedian and joke writer whose material has been performed on the “Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson” and the “Bob & Tom Show” — a radio program with over five million daily listeners.
“The local comedy scene is actually a combination of three scenes,” Shouse said. “There’s a strong scene in Wilmington, another in Raleigh, and Matt White and I have taken what we’ve learned from comics in both of them to try to build a scene here in Greenville.”
And it seems to be working. Multiple comedians from across North Carolina and other areas participated in the festival, including Tom Simmons who has appeared on BET, Showtime, and Comedy Central.
Keeping the laughs and good works coming, a Comedy Night was held in late April at Peasant’s Pub to benefit the Rebuilding Together Pitt County effort to upgrade VFW Greenville Post 7032.
If you haven’t caught any of the above, don’t worry about missing out on the funny in the future. White and Shouse, as well as the improv troups and clubs/businesses mentioned above all have pages on Facebook through which upcoming performances are announced.