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East County Wednesday, Sep. 2, 2009 8 years ago

'Last Comic Standing' finalist to take Trinity MCC stage

by: Michael Eng Executive Editor

Comedian Michele Balan can’t remember if she’s ever performed in the Sarasota/Bradenton area before.
In fact, she hardly can remember where she was two weeks ago.

“I’m all over the place, and I can’t keep up,” Balan said. “I just take it one week at a time.”

But that’s good, right?

“Oh yeah, I gotta stop complaining,” Balan said. “Or maybe I should just complain quietly to myself.”

However, although she doesn’t know if she’s ever graced any stages in the area, she definitely won’t forger her upcoming performance Sept. 12 at Church of the Trinity MCC in the East County. One of the women responsible for launching Balan’s stand-up career, a former club owner named Sally Sweets, will be in the audience.

“Sally now lives in Florida, and she’s coming to the show,” Balan said. “In the 1980s, she used to run a club called Sweet Sensations in Brooklyn. I used to do Bette Midler imitations there. That’s where I got my stage experience.”

In addition to her performance, which begins at 7:30 p.m., attendees also have the opportunity to meet Balan during a pre-show barbecue that begins at 5:30 p.m. Tickets for the barbecue and show are $40 in advance and $50 at the door. Tickets for the show alone are $20 in advance and $30 at the door.

Balan’s road to the comedy stage is different than most. The Brooklyn native broke into the scene after abandoning a lucrative executive career at a computer company in the 1980s.

“People always told me I was funny, and one day, someone said, ‘You’re so funny that you should do comedy,’” Balan said.

Balan’s original shtick was as a “female female-impersonator,” during which she cultivated her lip-synced impression of Bette Midler. From there, she developed her act into a performance highlighted by one-liners. Throughout her career, Balan has performed at some of comedy’s most prestigious venues, including The Improv in Los Angeles and Caroline’s on Broadway in New York. She has shared the stage with numerous performers, including Kathy Najimy, Jennifer Holiday, Taylor Dayne, Harvey Fierstein, Bruce Vilanch and Nell Carter.

In 2004, Backstage Magazine named Balan in its list of “Top 10 Comics.” Two years later, Balan landed a spot on NBC’s “Last Comic Standing” and lasted through to the top four.

“I’m glad I did it,” Balan said of the realty show. “It was crazy, reality TV … but the exposure was worth every minute of it. It changed my career.”

Today, Balan crisscrosses the country, performing everywhere from comedy clubs and cruise shops to conventions and country clubs. She also performs for a wide variety of audiences.

“I do lesbian audiences, straight audiences, gay audiences,” Balan said. “I’m bi-comical.”

And although her upcoming East County performance isn’t exactly family friendly, Balan said any adults looking for a fun night out won’t be disappointed.

“I think in this recession, people want to laugh,” Balan said. “Everybody who comes out will have a good time. And if not, I’ll leave out the back door.”

Contact Michael Eng at [email protected].

if you go
: A Laugh A Minute with Michele Balan
WHEN: 7:30 p.m., Sept. 12
WHERE: Church of the Trinity MCC, 7225 N. Lockwood Ridge Road
TICKETS: $20 in advance; $30 at the door. Priority seating is available for $40 in advance; $50 at the door. Priority tickets also include a pre-show barbecue with Balan at 5:30 p.m.
INFORMATION: To purchase tickets, call 355-0847.

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