AKRON, OH (The Akronist, August 12, 2015)
Where can Akronites go to see first-rate comedians perform in a club with a cool, upscale vibe and a convenient downtown location? The answer to that question is the new late-night comedy series “Cure for the BLUs,” every Saturday night at 11:30 p.m. at BLU Jazz+ at the Musica Complex, 47 E. Market St.
Willis Gordon and Eric Brewer are hosting shows that feature comics from Northeast Ohio and around the country.
The show premiered Aug. 1, with Eric Brewer serving as host and a lineup that included Dwayne Duke, Joe Perrow, Brian Kenny and headliner Willis Gordon. The house was packed and the excitement was palpable, as was the unspoken question: Would this show’s quality match that of its swanky venue?
Brewer took the stage and kicked off a night of comedy that exceeded all expectations. He was a natural as host, finding the sweet spot between entertaining and corralling the audience while supporting and promoting the performers.
Gordon, as a headliner, seems born to entertain. He’s been told over and over that he is like a young Johnny Carson, but to be fair, I don’t think that’s the case. Yes, he is always impeccably dressed. Yes, he can deliver a classy and smart monologue. But he is like….well, like no one else. He has his own voice and his own brand. He commands the room and he makes it look easy.
After the show, I sat down with Gordon and Brewer to talk about how Cure for the BLUs event came to be. The first thing I noticed was the obvious trust and mutual respect that exists between them. The two men met at various comedy open mics in the area and struck up a friendship.
Brewer, speaking of working with Gordon at BLU, said, “I couldn’t imagine a better partner for this, or a better venue. BLU provides so much support and marketing, and they make us feel confident about reaching out to out-of-town comedians.”
Brewer, who bears a striking resemblance to Bradley Cooper, is an active member of the Akron Comedy Scene. He has produced successful comedy nights in the past, most recently at Musica, and together with BLU’s manager, Colin Cook, first visualized late-night comedy at BLU.
Gordon, at 25, has a resume that is hard to imagine fitting into two and a half decades. He was in the military, serving two tours of duty in the Navy aboard the USS Enterprise. He has published two books of short stories and also is an actor, celebrity impersonator and a singer/songwriter. He even spent the summer of 2004 working for Barack Obama in Chicago.
Gordon is refreshingly, unapologetically sure of himself. “I communicate honestly and frankly. I don’t dumb it down. I don’t need to.”
I couldn’t not ask him about his trademark suits. He patiently answered that he had started out working with some old-time vaudeville performers and he learned by their example, “…and besides, there is really no need to ever not look good.”