The swell of community love could not be contained within the walls of the historic Fox Theatre this past Wednesday night. Folks from all factions came out in full force for Fullerton Cares‘ benefit show “Heroes Comedy for Autism”, primed for a rollicking good time while supporting the Autism initiatives in the Fullerton School District.
A premier-style red carpet Step and Repeat greeted all guests, giving them an opportunity to mug it up for Damion Lloyd Photography and setting the tone for the raucous entertainment to come. Facing Harbor Boulevard, Twisted Vine provided a host beer and wine bar, while Slidebar‘s catering crew dished out complimentary tasty bites. Found Vintage Rentals wielded their magical touch with vignettes of divans, coffee tables, ottomans and ephemera for the VIP area as well as for the stage and the performers’ green room. Fronting Chapman Avenue, Heroes Bar & Grill sponsored a beer garden within Firestone Court with 100% of their sales going directly to Fullerton Cares.
As patrons got comfortably seated in the main theatre, members of Fullerton Cares Autism Foundation, Heather Lane and Brian Bartholomew, gave a brief overview of their organization’s mission. An emotional Larry Houser, founder of the foundation, thanked everyone in the house and all those involved in being there for him during his difficult journey and helping him to advocate autism awareness. The crowd urged him on with chants of “Larry! Larry!”
“When I first found out my son had autism I felt alone. I received an enormous amount of support from local business owners and friends including Fullerton resident Dan Ebert, comedy event director, and Orange County resident Brad Williams, an incredible comic, autism supporter, and a person who has been instrumental in providing the top-quality talent we have each year. They have been with us since the beginning and we are eternally grateful for the time and talent they have lent to our local families affected by autism.”
For his own enduring efforts, Houser was presented with a Certificate of Recognition from Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva’s office.
The highlight of the introductions was from Houser’s 8-year old stepdaughter, a very poised Madelyn, who gave the sweetest tribute to her brother Boyd, Houser’s 5-year old son who is afflicted with autism. She clarified that it’s not that she wants to change her brother, but that with less therapy they would have more time to play together. Graciously bidding everyone a wonderful time, she hinted that the comedy to follow was not suitable for young ears. As she alighted from the stage, she received a standing ovation.
What ensued was a barrage of no holds barred, scathingly witty, and politically incorrect stand-up doled out rapid-fire by national headlining acts Carlos Mencia, Brad Williams, Adam Ray, Skyler Stone and George Perez — all generously donating their talents. Perez has been involved in the “Comedy for Autism” fundraisers in Fullerton in the three years since its conception. Stone, living next to a family with a son on the spectrum, requested that he be part of the fundraising effort. Ray was one of the first to jump on board for the event. Mencia cancelled a previous gig in Dallas just to be there and added that he wouldn’t miss it for the world. Williams, of course, was greatly responsible for assembling all these comedic mavericks onto one stage.
Between raw and raunchy bits, Mencia was able to intersperse slices of endearment in his relationship with Williams, someone born with dwarfism. He said that he doesn’t treat Williams any differently from his other friends and mused about a certain incident at McDonald’s. Not even considering Williams’ stature, Mencia asked that he go and pump some ketchup for their food. Williams, undaunted by his height impediment, hurled himself onto the counter and in true Brad fashion, showboated his accomplishment.
Williams, now unfazed by his physical setbacks, emphasized the power of comedy in cases of inadequacy. He stressed that rather than isolating oneself from others, that one should find humor in certain situations and use it to alleviate tensions and feelings of alienation. Of course, this has been the secret to Williams’ many great friendships with people of all walks of life.
The “Heroes Comedy for Autism” event only hopes to get bigger and better with each year. With a multitude of caring and compassionate people supporting the cause, everyone is considered to be a community hero. This year’s sold out show netted $20,000 with over 650 in attendance and it was without a doubt the most memorable night of entertainment that Fullerton has experienced in decades. Not only that, but with the loud roar of the appreciative crowd, our beloved Fox Theatre seemed to come to life again.
Photography by: Brian Feinzimer of Feinzimer Photograpy
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