LIMA — For Gina Chiappazzi, Lima is a great place to laugh.
“This really is a great town for comedy,” the head of Limaland Comedy said. “Almost every comedian that we have come in say that they had one of their best shows because the crowd is that receptive and into the show.”
Limaland Comedy has worked to promote Lima as a comedy destination, building off the community’s rich comedic history, being the birthplace of famous comedian Phyllis Diller. In her honor, Limaland Comedy held its inaugural Lima’s Funniest Lady Comedy Festival this past week, culminating in the Gilbert’s Comedy Camp Open Mic event Saturday at Gilbert’s Music on Robb Avenue.
“This was for anybody,” Chiappazzi said. “The goal of Gilbert’s Comedy Camp is to try and do this more often and make a Lima comedy album, which makes sense with Groamy’s CDs right next door.”
Chiappazzi and the other organizers were pleased at how the festival was received, starting with an appearance by comedian Sal Demilio Wednesday at the Milano Cafe, followed by “The Wisegals of Comedy” show Thursday at the Holiday Inn, featuring Diller impersonator Carla Goldbusch.
“We’ve had about 50 people at each event, which has been awesome,” Chiappazzi said. “Everyone’s been very postive about it. Actually, our Phyllis Diller impersonator that was there Thursday actually went to the museum as well Friday, so that was great.”
Chiappazzi credits a growing number of Lima businesses building relationships with Limaland Comedy and supporting the organization’s efforts.
“Milano’s used to have comedy there,” she said. “In fact, comedy’s a very Italian thing. Also, at the Holiday Inn, we’ve done our Jokers Club events there for the last six months, so they were really accomodating, and we had a great time.”
Saturday’s event featured eight local and regional comedians bringing their A-game to Gilbert’s stage.
“In fact, one first-timer went up today and had his debut in comedy,” Chiappazzi said. “Open mics are nice to get their feet wet in comedy without that fear of rejection. Everyone who comes to these is here to be supportive.”
One comic, Tim Lucas, traveled from Troy to make the crowd laugh.
“I’ve been doing comedy for 23 years, not all at once,” he said. “Some of my jokes are old enough to drink.”
Lucas started in comedy thanks to one fateful event.
“I was at an office party in Chicago and a lady who I think was trying to set me up with her daughter was laughing at all my jokes,” he said. “She told me I should be in comedy.”
Chiappazzi hopes to continue to build on what was started with this year’s festival as well as continuing Gilbert’s Comedy Camp either on a monthly or quarterly basis.
“We have plans to do more events throughout the year as a call back to Phyllis Diller,” she said. “We want to expand on what we’ve been doing this year and make it better.”