Around Town: Dinner and a show Wilkes-Barre style twice in one week

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If an emergency happened on Thursday night, comedian Josh Blue joked he would have been the first one out the door.

That’s because of his position on stage near the front of the F.M. Kirby Center’s Chandelier Lobby, where he performed his comedic stand-up to a sizable crowd that got a kick out of his self-deprecating humor.

Blue, who has cerebral palsy and references it regularly during his routine, was the second act in less than a week I saw at the Kirby.

The winner of NBC’s “Last Comic Standing” in 2006, he was hi-lar-i-ous.

My date for the night, friend Kourtney Winder, enjoyed it just as much – if not more.

The other act I had the pleasure of seeing was magician and illusionist Denny Corby last weekend.

You may remember I mentioned Corby not too long ago after seeing him perform at Wyoming Valley Porsche’s grand opening.

That show convinced me to attend his act last Saturday, where he shared the stage with friends Kid Ace and David Garrity.

All three involved the crowd, pulling adults and children on stage to participate in various illusions involving money, handcuffs and more.

To say I slouched down in the back row, so as not to be summoned, would be fair.

Both shows were represented by talent booking agency Special Guest App, a business venture of local entrepreneur Kris Jones and LA-based actor Damon Wayans Jr. The app is designed to make it easy to book entertainment, connecting talent-buyers and performers easily.

Wayans knows the entertainment side well as an actor and traveling stand-up comedian, and Jones, of course, knows the technology side.

It’s the perfect match for both parties — and for venues such as the F.M. Kirby Center, where even on nights when large theater shows aren’t booked, more intimate performances can occur.

Kudos to the Kirby for always continuing to innovate.

It also brings additional business to Wilkes-Barre.

Before the Blue show, some friends and I went to Franklin’s just a few feet away from the Kirby.

In fact, I noticed, many of the folks I saw in the show had been at Franklin’s for dinner and drinks.

Also, before the Corby show, some friends and I dined at Bettelli’s Villa on Kidder Street.

The famous eatery is run by Jessica Sheehan and her mom, Donna. Beloved for their legendary, saucy pizza, they also offer homemade Italian dishes, steaks, chicken and a host of daily specials. And it seems you always see someone you know.

I never need an excuse to go out to eat, but there’s something special about dressing up on a Saturday night and going to dinner and a show.

Thanks to places like the Kirby, Bettelli’s and Franklin’s (and the many other wonderful local spots we have), you’re able to have amazing nights right in the Wyoming Valley.

I say we’re pretty lucky.

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Mike McGinley is the Times Leader Media Group’s major accounts executive. Reach him at [email protected] or 570-704-3945.

Mike McGinley is the Times Leader Media Group’s major accounts executive. Reach him at [email protected] or 570-704-3945.