Comedy is coming to the Betty Jayne

PEORIA HEIGHTS —  Greg Batton, Peoria radio host featured on the “The Greg and Dan Show” on WMBD-AM/FM 1470/100.3, will do a comedy turn as the host of an evening of standup comedy on Saturday, Sept. 28 at 7 p.m. at the Betty Jayne Brimmer Center for the Performing Arts in Peoria Heights.

While offering some stories of his own, Batton will present a comedy feature featuring headliner Dr. Gonzo along with Matt Smith, referred to Peoria’s funniest lawyer, and Eddy P, the KungFool Comic.

“I got the standup bug shortly after the Washington tornado,” said Batton, referring to a benefit program performed in 2013. “I have no fantasy of doing it as a permanent gig.

“I might do it for a few times in a month and then not do anything for a couple of months,” he said.

“I’m a radio guy so I love telling stories. I’m a story-telling kind of comic, not a punchline kind of guy. I’m a talker,” said Batton.

Dr. Gonzo aka John Means

Dr. Gonzo, a comedian from Mason City who honed his act performing with rock stars like Huey Lewis, Jackson Brown and Santana in the 1980s, will bring his guitar and lively sense of humor on stage at the first of three comedy acts at the Peoria Heights center this fall.    Dr. Gonzo is the stage name that John Means has used for the past 40 years, finding his niche as the funnyman at rock concerts in the 1980s, opening for headliners like Joe Walsh and Jefferson Starship. “I was the cartoon before the movie,” said Means.

When he’s not practicing rock humor, Gonzo serves as a substitute teacher in Mason City, the central Illinois city where he grew up. “I also paint–buildings, murals, whatever I can. It relaxes me,” he said.

Means, 63, recently returned from comedy dates in California where he led the crowd in a singalong of “Lime and the Coconut,” the old Harry Nilsson song, at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco at the city’s 39th annual Comedy Day, an event he’s been a part of almost from its inception. “They were all stoned. The smell of pot was everywhere. It’s legal in California,” he said.   “Wait until next year when I play Peoria,” said Means, recognizing the recreational use of cannabis will be legal in Illinois in 2020.

As for the material he’s planning for his Heights performance, Gonzo said it all depends. “I’ve been going back to my youth for some things but I still do impersonations of rock acts,” he said.  Means said that traveling back from California by train allows him to meet people on the way as well as gathering experiences that might wind up as stage material.

The comedy lineup on Oct. 18 includes Matt Colgan, Michelle DeSutter and Matt Blind Stein. “Matt lost his sight three years ago and has developed a great routine,” said Batton.

On Nov. 16, the evening of comedy will feature Jeff Govednik, Edgar Sandoval and Joe Roderick.”Edgar works the comedy routine hard. He’s on the road a lot so he’ll perform at open mike nights in Las Vegas when he’s there,” said Batton.

As for the  Sept. 28 show, Batton said raunchy humor wasn’t on the menu. “I’d say we’re somewhere between PG13 and a soft R but this definitely isn’t for kids,” he said.

The audience is invited to stick around after 9 p.m. when the comedy acts are over, he said. “The crowd is invited to stay and have cocktails. The comedians will be around. That’s not the usual routine for a comedy club,” said Batton.

Tickets for all of the Stand Up in the Heights at the Betty Jayne shows are on sale now at https://www.thebettyjayne.com/calendar/stand-up-in-the-heights

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