■ By Rusty Strait / Senior Reporter
This past Friday night I ventured out to Derby’s Bar and Grill for some laughs because I have missed their comedy shows the past few months. The last time I saw comedy there, the comedians performed in the bar.
During my absence something happened. Comedy shows and other some of their other events are no longer performed in the bar. There is a new “Rink Room,” expanding from the bar into a section of the Wheelhouse. It is a larger venue and looks very much like a Las Vegas lounge.
Tables are conveniently situated in semi-circle fashion. All seating is padded and feature svelte black coverings, totally different from the bar seating.
Local comedian (and little person) Justin Fox hosted and emceed the evening. If you’ve never seen him in action, you’ve missed one of the hidden treats in the San Jacinto Valley. Justin plays a great deal on his little guy stature and his jokes are fresh and the humor side-splitting. He doesn’t mind making himself the butt of his routine, which is always the sign of a good comedian. Jack Benny, Bob Hope and Milton Berle all followed this self-deprecating style of humor.
The show presented a mixed variety of mixed ethnicities with loads of ethnic humor.
Hemet is very lucky to have a comedian on stage with the film, television and comedic reputation like the headliner at Friday night’s show. Mark Christopher Lawrence is a veteran of every major comedy club in America, and has been in movies and television since 1988. On the comedy circuit he has been the opening act for such greats as Jerry Seinfeld and Rodney Dangerfield.
The point I wish to make is that I am always hearing that there is nothing to do in Hemet. This is simply not true. There is not a weekend that goes by that we don’t have live theater somewhere in the Valley. Karaoke prevails in every venue from bars to mobile home clubhouses throughout the week. Bowling, skating and other indoor sports abound. There are 12 movie screens plus the Historic Hemet Theatre which features tribute bands and other live shows. Diamond Valley Arts Council always has something amazing scheduled, whether it be live music, lectures or art shows.
Folks complain that they have to go to Redlands or Temecula to see jazz. Some of the best jazz in Riverside County regularly appears on stage at the Derby — so there is no excuse for “having to go out of town” to get good jazz music.
Something to look forward to: The Derby is considering producing stage plays…something else to get us away from the tube.
Take in some of the many events that prevail in Hemet and maybe you’ll get hip to the idea that television is merely one medium — not the whole enchilada. Get out of the house and do the town. It’s good for you.