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Local comics headline Burchfield-Penney comedy showcase

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Comedian Dan Mahoney knows there are worse things than dying onstage. The Buffalo funnyman is one of several notable local comedians including Rick Matthews, Kevin Thomas Jr., Cody Colin Chase, Clayton Williams and Allie Brady on the bill for “Comedy at the Center” at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 12 at the Burchfield Penney Art Center.

Mahoney cut his teeth in comedy at the former Funny Bone and Comix Café local clubs in the suburbs before moving out to Las Vegas in 2001.

“I had just started comedy in Buffalo and did well enough my first time up that I got the bug,” he said. “I thought I would move to Vegas and tell them, ‘I’m a funny comic from New York, if you could just show me where my room is.’ It didn’t work out that way.

“Probably like a lot of young comics, I thought I was a lot funnier than I was. But it’s a 24-hour town, and there was a ton of opportunity.”

Dealing with crowds in a gambling town, where people can be experiencing the highest highs and lowest lows, proved to be good training ground for the comic.

“Vegas is a town with huge wins and huge losses,” Mahoney said. “Everybody had their Vegas jokes that dealt with gambling, loss, prostitution, loss, and more loss.”

From there, he began working outside of Vegas and putting together tours as a comic, but he was suddenly diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Disease and moved back to Buffalo for treatment at Roswell Park.

“It really curtailed comedy for a few years,” he said. “I feel great (now). I’m cured. I was treated at Roswell, and they were great over there. I’ll do stuff for those guys now. Any time I can give back to that community, I’m all over it. They took care of me.”

Comedians traditionally not only get better with stage experience, but also life experience. Surviving cancer impacted Mahoney’s life and his approach to comedy.

“I don’t see how it’s possible that it wouldn’t,” he said of the experience. “You dealt with topics of mortality. On that level, there’s a ton of material that came out of it, but cancer is one of those difficult subjects to breach. ... I can joke about it because I had it.”

Paradoxically, bringing up cancer while onstage can freeze a crowd during a hot set. Some clubs have even told Mahoney not to mention it.

“I don’t think you can look at a crowd and not find somebody who’s not had some kind of experience, either directly or indirectly, with cancer,” he said. “It’s weird because we should probably be talking about it more openly, but for some reason, people get really nervous about it.”

Mahoney also recently did a six-week tour of Korea and Japan for the Marine Corps Community Service, an organization that sets up social activities for Marine bases around the world.

“It was probably the most high-stakes comedy I’ve ever done in my career,” he said. “All of sudden, you realize that your duty was far greater than slinging a few jokes. You’re part of this thing to entertain these guys. It was really eye opening."



What: Comedy at the Center

When: 7:30 p.m. Aug. 12

Where: Burchfield Penney Art Center, 1300 Elmwood Ave.

Cost: $5 for members, $10 general admission

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