It all started, like not enough great stories do, with a bingo night. Not long ago, Benjamin Leis, the founder of Comic Cure and a promoter and host of standup comedy in Boca Raton and elsewhere, drove past the Boca Raton Elks Lodge on Federal Highway, as many of us do every day. He noticed the outside marquee advertising “Bingo, Thursday night, 7 p.m.”
“I said, you know what? I haven’t played bingo in years,” Leis recalls. “So I stopped in there to play bingo one night, and I had never played bingo that’s for adults, for money. I had a great time, and I learned all these ways of playing it; I earned a little bit of money.”
It so happened that the Lodge’s bingo caller was leaving the next week for Australia. Leis, who is an experienced emcee, offered to fill in. The next thing he know, he became a member of the Lodge, and continues to call bingo about once a month.
But that’s not all. Leis is hoping to transform the Boca Raton Elks Lodge into a more vibrant community player, a la the Delray Elks Lodge, which has seen a resurgence in civically engaged younger members. With that in mind, the Lodge agreed to host its first comedy and magic show, run by Leis, this Saturday evening, May 25.
The timing proved fortuitous. After 17 comedy shows—11 of them sold-out—Leis and his former rental partner, the Mizner Park Cultural Center, have parted ways. March proved to be the last hurrah—for now, anyway—of the Mizner Park Comedy Club, and Leis had been looking for another Boca location to relaunch his Comic Cure brand. In the Elks Lodge, he found a venue that aligns with Comic Cure’s charitable mission.
“The Elks Lodges, like a lot of organizations, are aging out, and having challenges getting new life. So that’s one reason I wanted to join,” he says. “And everything they do is for charity. They have a number of charitable causes they raise money for. All of the money that comes in goes right back out into the community. It looked to be a perfect partnership, because they’ve got the space. They’ve got their own bar, and their drinks are super-cheap. So it was a plug-and-play environment for us—an easy move.”
This Saturday’s performance is arguably Comic Cure’s most eclectic program to date. Headlining comedian Myke Herlihy is a former bartender who picked up a number of “bar tricks” during his time in front of the potent potables, which he’ll be deploying along with his arsenal of jokes. He’ll be preceded by “The Amazing Mr. A.,” Richard Adler, a local legend of magic who will bring his ventriloquist act to the Boca audience; and Mariza and Jim Patterson, two talented students from Leis’ comedy classes.
The latter is the father of Sgt. Mark Patterson of the Boca Raton Police Department, so Comic Cure’s charitable partner for the event is the Boca Raton Police Foundation. Professional L.A. comic Richy Leis, Ben’s brother, will emcee the event and perform his material, which includes original music.
The Elks Lodge space is half the size of the Mizner Park Comedy Club location, so get your tickets early and often. Show time is 7:30 p.m. Saturday, at 1395 N. Federal Highway, Boca Raton. Tickets run $18-$27. Call 786/564-2291 or visit comiccure.com.