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Funny Business 

A new book probes the occupational side of comedy.

Dave Schwensen (with pal Ray Romano) knows how - to get lots of people to laugh at you.
  • Dave Schwensen (with pal Ray Romano) knows how to get lots of people to laugh at you.
FRI 5/13

Dave Schwensen can't make you funny. You either have what it takes to make hundreds of people laugh, or you don't. If you happen to belong to the former group, Schwensen claims, he can turn those hundreds of people into thousands with his book Comedy FAQs and Answers. "This is for people who are thinking about going into comedy," says Schwensen, a Cleveland-based funnyman who was a talent coordinator for the Improv clubs in New York and Los Angeles. "But you have to have talent."

The how-to guide (Schwensen's second; the first was How to Be a Working Comic) pools some of the biggest names in stand-up -- including Dave Attell, George Carlin, Margaret Cho, Jeff Foxworthy, and Ray Romano (pictured left, with Schwensen) -- for from-the-road advice. "Comics get in the business, and they want to headline comedy clubs," says Schwensen. "That's only a small part of it."

Schwensen stresses that the book is for people who are serious about comedy. He dispenses info on booking gigs, dealing with hecklers, and choosing appropriate material. "Being funny isn't enough," he says. "It takes business sense also." Schwensen discusses and signs his book at 7 p.m. Friday at Borders Books & Music, 3466 Mayfield Road in Cleveland Heights. Admission is free; call 216-291-8605. -- Michael Gallucci

Now Hear This
A deaf DJ overcomes the odds in a mockumentary.

FRI 5/13

The biggest hurdle that director Michael Dowse and star Paul Kaye had to clear while filming It's All Gone Pete Tong had nothing to do with their fictional subject, Frankie Wilde. A DJ superstar in the clubs on the island of Ibiza, Spain, the hard-partying Wilde lost his hearing because of the loud music he was exposed to every night, only to fight his way back to fame and then disappear forever (fans say either he still spins under a different name, or he's dead). But playing it straight didn't dog Dowse and Kaye as much as the fact that "neither of us had much affection for the dance-club scene," explains Kaye, who plays Wilde. "Don't tell anyone, but I was listening to the Stooges when I had the headphones on [during club scenes]." The movie -- which includes testimonials from contemporaries like Paul Van Dyk -- is a mix of comedy and drama. And it wasn't always easy to stay on the appropriate side, says Dowse. "With so many dire consequences, we had to balance that all the time. I just hope people laugh." It opens Friday at the Cedar Lee Theatre. See Film for a review. -- Michael Gallucci

Let's Talk About Sex
The Kinsey DVD gets into the movie's medical mood.

TUE 5/17

Of all the cool extras -- director commentary, deleted scenes, an alternate ending, and a "Sex on Film" featurette -- that accompany Tuesday's DVD release of Kinsey, it's the interactive Sex Questionnaire that got us all hot and bothered. Prying into our inhibitions and risk-taking adventures (for the record, we scored "Average"), it's also the item that comes closest to capturing the biopic's bookish philosophy. Liam Neeson is good as sex-researcher Alfred Kinsey, who upset post-World War II standards with his bedroom studies, but Laura Linney (as his devoted wife) and Peter Sarsgaard (as an assistant who aids in more than just the lab) stand out in this decidedly unsexy look at the clinical side of shagging. -- Michael Gallucci

Salvage Mission

SAT 5/14

Ginger Tracy has a sense of repurpose. As appraiser at Saturday's Trash to Treasure, she notes that "the spectrum of collectibles has increased enormously. Things that were considered trash 10 years ago are now being sold at unbelievable prices." If it sounds a little like Antiques Roadshow, well, it sorta is. Says Tracy: "I'll tell [people] what to hang onto." It happens at 4 p.m. at Lakewood Public Library, 15425 Detroit Avenue in Lakewood. Admission is free; call 216-226-8275. -- Lucy McKernan

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