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Comedy fundraiser stands up for New York universal health care

As a new Republican American Health Care Act generates debate across the country, a group of Buffalo comedians are performing a fundraiser to support universal health care in New York State.

“Stand Up for New York Health,” taking place at 8 p.m. March 23 at Mr. Goodbar, features such comedians as Clayton Williams, Nicky Spin, Kevin Thomas Jr., Bruce Wilson and Eric Lingenfelter. In addition to the $10 admission price, the Campaign for New York Health also is accepting donations for the cause.

Williams recently talked about the show and his life in comedy during a recent interview.

“It would be nice,” Williams said of the initiative sponsored by the Campaign for New York Health. “No one needs to lose their health care. It’s important to me.”

Williams will celebrate five years as a stand-up comedian this year. After entering the rotation for weekend hosting duties at Helium Comedy Club, Williams has started getting feature spots there recently.

Williams has a distinctive fashion style of wearing patterned button-down shirts and colorful sweaters, which separates him from many of his peers who often fall back on black shirts and hoodies while on stage. Williams said his unique look is because he just likes to wear interesting stuff.

“People assume that I’m just trying to be eccentric,” he said. “That’s where we are as people, that we just can’t like wearing stuff. I’ve gone to a lot of things where people are just wearing clothes for irony’s sake, and I don’t consider myself one. I’m not going to wear grandma’s knitted sweater. There is thought (behind it), but it’s my thought and not how anybody else thinks of clothing. I like what I like. I just enjoy weird stuff.”

Making people laugh has been a lifetime hobby for Williams, but like many kids in Buffalo, having a career in comedy seemed outlandish if you didn’t live in Los Angeles or New York City.

“It never clicked that it would be a viable thing,” Williams said. “It was just a thing that people on TV would do. When I found out that you can go to an open mic and go up and try it, I thought, ‘Cool, this magical thing is finally in my grasp.’ ”

Since breaking into comedy, Williams has also taken to produce Mr. Goodbar’s Thursday night open mic called “Uncle Jerry’s Comedy Attic.” While there are a number of open mics around Buffalo throughout the week, the Goodbar show remains a reliable favorite among performers.

“It’s going very well,” Williams said of his room at Goodbar. “There was a bit of a lull not too long ago where we felt it was dying down, but now more people are showing up. People have more energy about what they’re doing.”

In the future, Williams hopes to gain more experience in the feature spot at Helium and book work at other clubs. He also wants to revive his older online project, Kloun College, a Tumblr that featured Williams drawing a portrait, then having other comedians write fictional biographies for the person in the picture.

“It was a fun activity for me to draw weird characters, and then creative types to make something out based on what I drew,” he said.

 

PREVIEW

What: Stand Up for New York Health

What: 8 p.m. March 23

Where: Mr. Goodbar, 1110 Elmwood Ave.

Cost: $10

Info: nyhcampaign.org

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