Joe Charles
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Joe Charles

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"Comedy Night at Lestats"

(Normal Heights, San Diego, CA) - Every Tuesday night at 9 p.m. Lestat's Coffee House showcases free comedy night.

The show features professional and amateur comedians from San Diego, but also has national touring acts as well. The show is open to all ages; however, some humor might be too mature for young ears.

The show is organized by local comic, Mark Serritella, who performs regularly and acts as house emcee.

"We have a good room and I promote it heavily. We're also close to Los Angeles and a lot of good comics there don't get a lot of stage time, so they come down here to do longer sets," said Serritella.

Local pros that regularly grace the stage include Robert Lariviere, Tim Palmer and Joe Charles.

"I love this room. Every time I come here, I have fun," said Charles. "It's usually a younger crowd, which means more energy. Which makes me more energetic and produces a better show overall."

Charles' comedy ranges from G- to R-rated and can get very physical at times.

"When I'm up (on stage), I'll do anything for a laugh. I will break my face off into the wall if I think it's going to get a chuckle," Charles added. "I'm blessed to have such a job."

Though the club has a solid base of comedy fans, the venue originally showcased music only.

"The idea for music was part of the plan from the beginning," said club owner John Husler.

"Music is a very powerful communication tool that has a binding component to it. People can go any place and get a mocha, but it is a special thing to go and experience a live show in an intimate setting at the same time," he added.

The club is co-owned by Jamie Gerkowski. The two took over the operation in April of 1997 and have had comedy night for a little over two years.

"Comedy takes a little longer (than music does) to catch on, but when it does it has a very loyal following," said Husler.

Husler's favorite aspect of owning Lestat's is the opportunity to give something back to the community.

"It's great to provide a place where performers can hone their skills," said Husler.

"Don't ever ask a comic to tell you a joke," Serritella warns, "because it's awkward. If you met a singer you wouldn't ask them to sing you a song out of the blue. Never cross a comedian because you will wind up in their act and if they're good enough, the whole world will be laughing at you."

Lestat's offers an open mic every Monday for those musicians and comics who wish to perform.

The club is open 24 hours every day, has nightly entertainment and offers a variety of coffees and sandwiches.

Lestat's is located at 3343 Adams Avenue in Normal Heights. For event listings and information, call 619-282-6437 or visit their website at For bookings, call 619-306-5777. - Jack O' Leary - Adams Avenue Herald February 2006

"Local Comedians Honor Richard Pryor"

(La Jolla, CA) A group of San Diego-based comedians honored legendary comic, Richard Pryor, Thursday night at The Comedy Store in La Jolla, CA, by holding a fundraiser to fight Multiple Sclerosis (MS).

Pryor, most notably known for his many stand-up performances and movies with friend, Gene Wilder, died from a heart attack on Dec. 10 last year. In 1986, Pryor was diagnosed with MS and though he continued to work throughout the 90's, the disease slowed him dramatically.

"When he died, I decided to hold a benefit in his name and donate the money to fighting (multiple sclerosis). I didn't know when or where I would hold the event, but I knew all my friends would be on board," said Joe Charles, local comic and show promoter.

"His influence on comedy and, me, personally, is huge. He was the first person I saw that made me want to make other people laugh," said Charles. Other performers that night included Tim Palmer, Matt Knost, Joe King, Robert Lariviere and Dat Phan, winner of NBC's Last Comic Standing.

"Richard Pryor was one of the first to truly speak his mind as a stand-up comedian and was a fellow minority that pioneered his way through the entertainment business staying true to himself, his hardships in life, and his roots. He will always continue to inspire me," said Phan.

"I was honored to be a part of the tribute to Richard Pryor. It gave us a chance to show respect to someone who sacrificed so much to the art of comedy. We can only hope that our comedy can make him proud when he looks down upon us fellow comedians," he added. Phan's sentiments were shared by the other performers.

"Getting on stage any time is great, but when your efforts are going to a good cause like this, your performance goes up to another level," said Lariviere. "(Pryor) was a genius. I think he would be happy with what we're doing tonight." The sold-out crowd would agree.

"These guys were great. I've never been to a show before and this was a lot of fun," said Mesa College student Jenny McCoy. "I'll be back to support any benefit show they have."

"I come out to watch these guys all the time. It's always a good show," said Jeff Neumann, owner of San Diego Card and Toy collectibles. "I was glad to donate to such a cause."

All the comics worked for free for the evening and raised almost $200 for the event. Proceeds for the show were donated directly to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society - Southern California Chapter. To donate, or learn more about MS and its devastating effects, visit - Ken Westfall - Beach and Bay Press January 2006

"Laugh It Up with Local Comedians"

(San Diego, CA) Some of the greatest comedians of our time have graced The Comedy Store stage including such favorites as Robin Williams, Jim Carrey, Chris Tucker and David Letterman. In fact, most of them began humbly on these stages long before they were household names.

The Comedy Store itself was put together by Sammy and Mitzi Shore (the parents of comedian Pauly Shore) and has withstood time to still produce great acts on stage and great memories for the audience.

Having only two locations, San Diego is lucky enough to house one of the World Famous Comedy Stores in La Jolla. It is an absolute must see for San Diego residents and visitors.

Located at 916 Pearl Street in the heart of upscale suburbia, the night club is a wild watering hole compared to its surroundings. Shows are moderately priced ranging from under $10 on selected weekdays up to $20 for bigger name acts on the weekends. The Comedy Store has a fully-stocked bar and designates a two-drink minimum.

The Store itself often showcases big name and big laugh acts from The Tonight Show, Comedy Central and Mad TV; yet one of the greatest things about The Store is catching shows which feature up and coming comedians, usually San Diego locals. Wednesdays and Thursdays usually feature amateur performers, but it is best to call in advanced to check the lineup.

Such local comedians that are worth checking out are Matt Knost and Joe Charles. Both reside in Pacific Beach, their comfortable and confident stage presence, not to mention hilarious material, make them locals comedians destined for bigger things.

Their material, often revolving around their drunken fiascos, never fails to get the crowd rolling.

Check with The Comedy Store staff exact dates of when Joe and Matt will be performing. - Kristol Boe - San Diego Super Guide June 2005

"Charles Does It Just for the Laughs"

If you like laughing until the vein in your head looks like it's going to burst, then comedian Joe Charles is the man for you. This Marine turned comic lights up the stage with his routines that keep the crowd rolling out of their seats.

For years now, Charles has been performing at various comedy clubs across America.

Charles claims that he never chose to do comedy, but comedy chose him. It all started a few years back when he witnessed one of his idols, Andrew "Dice" Clay, show up at the Hollywood Comedy Store unscheduled. After that night, Charles went home and started writing.

The very first time that Charles performed on stage, it was a shocking surprise for him. He decided to do a pratfall on his way up the stage as the crowd was applauding him, a very dicey move. It worked because after that the crowd loved him.

"I've never been that scared in my life, Charles recalls. "It was the biggest rush I've ever had."

From that point on Charles was addicted.

He claims that he's been making people laugh his entire life. His influences include Robin Williams, Richard Pryor and Benny Hill, as well as his stepfather, who he credits as the funniest person he's ever known.

Charles loves to see a funny comic on stage because he appreciates the work it takes to get to that point. Even if it's a comic that he doesn't like, Charles is still inspired because, "If this jackass can do it, I know I'm on the right track."

Charles finds just about anything funny, especially physical comedy, but he tries to stay away from highly political humor. However, he does love what Dennis Miller and Jon Stewart have to say about today's world, and he admits that loves it when his material impacts others just the same.

"I've done a lot of things, but comedy makes me feel like I'm serving a purpose," he says. "It is a positive direction, and it is the most amusing thing I think a person can do with their life."

Charles' former occupations include: a hot dog cart worker, a computer geek for the Marines, a tour guide, a minor league ballpark usher, a guitar luthier and a delivery driver. He says that each were directionless jobs.

"Dealing with past employers is one thing, but dealing with comics is another," he says.

"Comics are bitter. Not all of them, but some are the biggest insecure egomaniacs in the world," he adds. "I'm insecure, but I'm no egomaniac. I'm surprised if I ever get a laugh."

If Charles is surprised to get a laugh, then he was definitely flabbergasted when he landed a girlfriend through his comedy. It was one of Charles' break-dancing routines on stage that caught her attention. She was hooked from the start, because as soon as she contacted him through, she was his.

Though Charles' dad could care less about his career, his mom loves it and is proud of anything he does.

"I could make a finger painting to this day and she would break down in tears. She's a sweetheart," he says.

Unless your last name is Chappelle or Rock, there is no money in comedy. But that's not why Charles takes the stage. He is happy just to pay his rent on time. The true reason for his comedy is to satisfy his addiction to the stage. He says that once you get a little stage performance in your blood, you're hooked, and there is no escape.

"...there is no way to go back to normal," explains Charles, who has performed with the likes of his idol Clay and Joe Rogan to name just a few.

When he is performing, it is a non-stop night of feeding on stage for more of that Adrenaline-rush that Charles gets every time from the crowd.

For some comics, who are always coming up with clever comebacks and witty one-liners, hecklers in the crowd can really put those skills to the test. Charles likes rowdy crowds and tries to go with the flow by making hecklers enjoy it too. Though he doesn't like destroying a person's ego, sometimes a heckler disrupts the show to the point where the comic has to show who has the talking stick.

"Especially if you're having a hard time on stage, then you have to show them why you have the mic and they are the loser who paid to see you," he says.

Charles can find anything in his environment and make it funny, no matter how controversial it is. Lately he has been writing more clean jokes, because he finds it a bit more challenging to write material that would make a Sunday school teacher and a Hell's Angel laugh in the same room.

"It's tough," he says, "But I can get raw and dirty if the crowd isn't buying my Cheerios bits."

For Charles, comedy is a nightly dogfight, so motivation is crucial. He gets on stage every opportunity that he gets, even if he's not feeling it. If he bombs, he learns to deal with it by analyzing what he did wrong and fixing it for the next time. Soon, he has hopes of performing on college campuses all around the U.S. He says that his ultimate goal is to get his own one-hour HBO Comedy Special and maybe own a comedy club. One thing i - Lenny Castaneda - American Superstar Magazine April 2006


CD - "Don't Judge Me" - coming eventually.



I'm a stand up comedian living in beautiful San Diego, CA. My comedy comes from my personal experiences with childhood, relationships, the military, alcohol and whatever other weird stuff that leaks into my brain.

My influences range from Cosby and Pryor to open-mikers, and everyone in between. One guy I really miss is Sam Kinison. R.I.P.

Check out the links above to find out more about me and what I do. If you want to hire me or curse me out use the Contact link on the left.

If you want to see me perform, you can usually catch me at The Mad House Comedy Club in San Diego. For specific dates and show times check out my calendar page.

Remember, it's never too late in life to make a positive change.