News From Terre Haute, Indiana

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March 10, 2010

Operation Comedy coming to Valley

Raising money for Wounded Warrior Project

TERRE HAUTE — Comedians from around the country hope to raise funds for a serious project by getting some laughs out of Terre Haute.

Operation Comedy will take the Indiana Theatre by storm at 7:30 p.m. March 27 as a fundraiser for the Wounded Warrior Project, a national organization working to empower injured veterans and reintegrate them into civilian life.

Jon Stites, founder of Operation Comedy and host for the night, said the show aims to bring troops together in their hometowns while raising money for a good cause.

“This is the fourth show we’ve done,” the Indianapolis native and former U.S. Army infantryman said Wednesday afternoon outside the Indiana Theatre at 683 Ohio St. The show sold out two consecutive nights at the Downtown Crackers Club in Indianapolis last November, as well as at a venue in Anderson, he said.

Stites, 35, writes for National Lampoon and can be heard on the “Bob and Tom Show.” But he was working as a national sales manager for a health care IT company while attending a comedy club with friends in 2008. The comic began heckling one of his friends a little too hard for Stites’ taste and he began firing back, drawing heavy applause from the crowd. The club’s owner invited him to some open mic nights and Stites was hooked.

In addition to himself, ex-Navy fighter pilot Stan Chen, Michael Malone and Troy Davis will also perform.

Headlining the event is April Macie, as seen on the TV shows “Last Comic Standing” and the “Howard Stern Show.”

Macie, based out of Los Angeles, said in a telephone interview Wednesday that in addition to her regular tours, she’s performed eight times for U.S. troops overseas, flying into places such as South Korea and Guantanamo Bay.

“We try to do about six weeks of military a year,” she said, adding that the overseas troops are some of her most appreciative audiences. “And you find that they’re just young kids.”

Macie was a University of Florida student for all of two-and-a-half years before dropping out and heading to L.A. to pursue a career in show business. Polishing silverware, waiting tables and doing the routine restaurant jobs for years, she finally got her break on the NBC show “Last Comic Standing.”

“I’ve been doing comedy for about nine years now,” she said, pointing to the reality television show as the one which got her out of the side jobs and onto the national stage.

Stites commented that a lot of charity events rely on lower-quality performers, but Operation Comedy goes after big names.

“We never skimp on talent,” he said.

Tickets for the show will be available at the door for $15, or $10 with a student or military ID.

Stites credited Wabash Valley Harley-Davidson, Old National Bank and 100.7 Mix FM as tremendous sponsors.

“I’ve been very impressed with the way the city’s rallied behind the cause,” he said of Terre Haute.

Brian Boyce can be reached at 812-231-4253 or brian.boyce@tribstar.com.

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