Laughter is supporting the troops this week through the Big and Tall Comedy tour.
The show will be held at the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States Post 8794 in Whitehall, Ohio, Thursday, and will feature headliners Mike Bova and Ernesto “Big Ern” Galano. Local comedian Jesse Pimpinella will emcee the event. Bova said proceeds will benefit the VFW.
Bova and Galano began the Big and Tall tour in January 2018.
“I just started booking some gigs, and we’re off to the races,” Bova said. “So we’ve been doing this for over two years now. This is going on our third year of doing the tour, traveling all over the country, and now we’re on a mission raising money for veterans.”
Bova and Galano perform eight to 10 shows a month, many of them at VFW posts and American Legion locations. Bova said he contacts venues, books gigs, writes contracts, helps promote the shows and performs.
“We bring in a professional show, including a nice sound system, my guitar and amplifier. We bring in a spotlight. I mean, we actually bring in a professional show to the place, so it’s like going to a comedy club wherever we’re at,” Bova said.
Even at non-VFW shows, Bova said he and Galano keep veterans in mind.
“We try to contact a local VFW or American Legion, have them help us promote the show, and then in return, we will give them 10 to 20 percent of our earnings, so we’re always thinking about the vets, and always thinking about how we can raise money for them,” he said.
For this performance, ticket revenue will go to the comedians, and food and bar sales will go to the VFW, Bova said.
Along with observational humor and impressions, Bova ends every show with a half hour of musical parodies, putting new lyrics to songs by artists such as Eric Clapton and Willie Nelson. Bova even has a witty rewrite for the Kay Jewelers jingle.
“I say that my wife wants jewelry for her upcoming birthday, and I’m frugal. So every kiss begins with Kmart,” Bova said.
Bova said showgoers can expect adult humor and a lack of political correctness.
“We have this disclaimer that you’re going to hear some things that may offend you. But at the end of the day, we love everybody, no matter what race, religion or gender preference. We love everybody, we’re just trying to make you laugh,” Bova said.
The show was originally going to be held at VFW Post 4044 but had to be moved after the post closed. Post 8794 has been operating since 1953 and currently has 321 members.
“This is the first time we’re actually going to get a chance to see them, and if we like what we see and it works out well, we’ll have them back,” Richard Curry, quartermaster of VFW Post 8794, said. “What we’re hoping for is really just some exposure — maybe have some opportunity to recruit some new members.”
Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Thursday for the Big and Tall Comedy Tour Ohio Veterans Fundraiser at Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8794, located at 4100 E. Main St. The show starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets cost $10 and are available both on Eventbrite and at the door.