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Local comedy club to raise money for wildfire victims

By: Brody Fernandez Of Gold Country Media
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California is yet again suffering a historic fire season as the “the new normal” is upon us according to Cal Fire officials. In response to the statewide devastation and tragic loss of homes due to the California wildfires, a local comedy club is teaming up with the American Red Cross to raise funds for fire victims as they rebuild their lives after their insufferable loss.

Szeles Comedy Hypnotist & Blacktop Comedy Club in Rocklin will team up team together with the American Red Cross for the fundraiser.

Jim Szeles, a local comedy stage hypnotist from Citrus Heights spoke to Gold Country Media about the event.

“We wanted to do something to help the communities and these unfortunate folks get back on their feet and rebuild their lives,” Szeles said. “I felt absolutely helpless and heartbroken for these families who have lost everything and wanted to do something to help them. I then reached out to an awesome guy, Paul Burke, the owner of Blacktop comedy in Rocklin, he was willing to offer his place as a venue, at that point we were set.”

Szeles, suffered a tragedy himself several years ago when he lost everything in a flood. He also witnessed for himself the widespread (wildfire) devastation of entire communities as he drove to his engagement last year through Santa Rosa.

“I will never forget that scene, everywhere I looked was like something from a movie set — an apocalyptic scene, everything was gone except for partial burned out skeletons of what were once family homes and apartments, the air was grey and heavy with the smell of smoke and it just was surreal and heartbreaking to witness.”  

Tickets for the event are $10 each. Those who can not make it to the event but still wish to donate to the cause can do so by either buying a ticket online and not going, or donating directly to the Red Cross. All donations help the Red Cross in their effort to raise money for wildfire victims.

Owner and artistic director of Blacktop Comedy Paul Burke spoke to Gold Country Media about the event.

“Jim Szeles had reached out to me about this idea and we discussed all the loss and destruction that Californians faced,” Burke said. “These people need help, and I was absolutely on board. I was thinking Sunday afternoon would be a great time for the event, right after church, and it’s not too late so people won’t be thinking about going to work Monday. We want to help people discover their improv skills but in terms of giving back and helping this event was huge. It's stunning to me that these people displaced by the fires having to go back and start over. If this the ‘Comedy Hypnosis for a Cause’ benefit helps, then that’s great.”