Comedy night planned for Women Enriching Lives fundraiser

Group’s first benefit event will support reading program for Butler County children.

All joking aside, a Middletown women’s group hopes its inaugural fundraiser generates money to support a reading program that provides free books to Butler County children.

Women Enriching Lives (WEL) is hosting Jeff Jena Comedy Night with Friends on June 22 at the Sorg Opera House, 63 S. Main St., Middletown. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Dolly Parton Imagination Library that brings early literacy to local children, said Frances Sack, a founding member of WEL.

More than two years ago, when Frances and her husband, Dan, supported a renovation fundraiser at the Sorg, they were given a free night of rental at the historic opera house.

The Sacks donated the prize to WEL, and the members decided that gave them an opportunity to host a comedy night for the first time.

They contacted Middletown resident Jeff Jena, a comedian known nationally, about performing that night, and he agreed to donate his appearance fee, Sack said.

“We never expected that,” she said. “His generosity is much appreciated.”

Then Jena contacted two of his comedian friends, Leslie Norris Townsend and Happy Cole, who also agreed to perform that night. They will be paid, Sack said.

A limited number of $100 VIP tickets are being sold. The ticket includes heavy appetizers and drinks at Primo Italian Steakhouse, 6 S. Broad St., and an opportunity to meet the three comedians.

There also will be a split-the-pot during the 90-minute show. WEL hopes to raise $5,000 that night, according to Sack.

She said area restaurants are being contacted and asked if they will donate 10% of their sales that night from patrons attending the comedy show in downtown Middletown.

Jena said he has known Sack and Ginger Bruggeman, another WEL founding member, for years and he never hesitated to donate his time due to the important cause.

“That’s such a great project,” he said of the book program. “It’s going to be a great night and a lot of fun.”

Jena started performing in 1978 and has done countless live shows. He has appeared on over 50 national television programs as an actor and comedian, including The Mike Huckabee Show, Comics Unleashed, The Dennis Miller Show, Comedy Central, HBO and others.

Townsend has appeared on her DryBar Comedy Special, “Outstanding in My Field,” and her regular presence on TBN’s Huckabee Show.

Cole, who began his stand-up career in Tampa, got a big break when he was invited to perform at the Montreal International Comedy Festival “Just for Laughs.”

He has appeared on NBC’s “Friday Night Lights” and the nationally syndicated “Showtime at the Apollo.”

Since WEL was developed in 2006, it has raised over $500,000 that has been used to support the local chapter of the Dolly Parton Imagination Library of Ohio and MidPointe Library System early literacy initiatives, according to Sack.


WHAT: Jeff Jena Comedy Night with Friends

WHEN: Show starts at 8 p.m. June 22. Doors open at 7 p.m.

WHERE: Sorg Opera House, 63 S. Main St., Middletown

HOW MUCH: Reserved seats $35. Premium seats $50. VIP at Primo $100.


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