“I have been involved in fighting violence and helping victims of violence since 1980 when my sister was killed in an armed robbery in Chicago,” Suzie Agrillo explains. That event also inspired the genesis of her annual Comedy for Charity variety show at the Fox Tucson Theatre.
This year’s extravaganza, “Thank You for Serving” is set for 7 p.m., Sunday, April 23. Tickets are $20 to $60, to benefit Emerge Center for Domestic Abuse and La Frontera’s “Rally Point,” which provides mental and behavioral health services for veterans, including suicide prevention and peer support. Tickets are at comedyforcharity.org and foxtucson.com
Mayor Jonathon Rothschild, recently a victim of a carjacking at gunpoint, is honorary chair of the event, and Tucson comic artist and comedian David Fitzsimmons emcees. Nationally acclaimed relationship comedian Tommy Blaze heads a comedy line-up that includes Dallas comedy club owner and Tucson favorite Butch Lord, Suzie Sexton (Agrillo’s stage name) and, from Washington D.C., USMC veteran Michael Garvey, who earned a Purple Heart in Afghanistan and performs with his service dog, Liberty.
Among the “variety” entries will be the super-tight hip hop dance team EgoKillAZ and the band Los Guapos, featuring U.S. Army Veteran Engel Indo. The Tucson group plays original music that blends Latin, surf and Spaghetti Western sounds. “Back by popular demand,” Agrillo says, is local superstar drag queen Janeé Starr, a crowd favorite at the 2014 show.
Lunch with Mayor Rothschild is a highlight of a raffle that also includes donations from Philabaum Glass, Kendra Scott jewelry and other local businesses.
Agrillo held her first Comedy for Charity show in 2011 at Laff’s Comedy Caffe. “Right when I was planning the event, the shootings at Safeway happened, and Gabrielle Giffords, Christina Taylor Green were shot and Christina died,” she says. “Maybe because of that it was sold out. All that just underscored the importance of raising awareness about violence in the community, assisting victims of violence and doing what I can to prevent violence.”
Asked how she found her own voice in comedy, Agrillo says, “Around the time of the first show, after my family reunion, I decided to do standup as a catharsis. (Tucson comedian) Nancy Stanley got me into it. Estrogen Hour (Stanley’s comedy benefit for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society) didn't exist then, but I kind of got addicted to it after that. I think having a dysfunctional family kind of disposes you to comedy.”