Anthony Solimini saw a comedic void in Ahwatukee, so he took matters into his own hands.
He is hosting HaHa ‘Tukee Comedy with six other comedians on Thursdays August 19, September 16 and October 14 at Cactus Jack’s in Ahwatukee.
“It’s going to be more than an open mike,” Solimini says. “I’m calling it a featured show, rather than an open mike. I’m actually paying comedians and, potentially, a piece of the door. It’ll be better quality comedians and I’m giving them a little money.”
Prospective comedians send their tapes to Solimini for consideration. The goal is to have “really good comedians.”
Born in Boston, Solimini says he’s been “making people laugh since 1962.” Being the youngest of four, with three older sisters and an Italian grandmother, Solimini adds he had no choice but to enter comedy.
This, along with his travels overseas, have provided plenty of material.
A new Ahwatukee resident, the banker by trade lived overseas for 30 years in London, Singapore, Thailand and Hong Kong. His resume includes stints at Groupon, Deutsche Bank, JP Morgan and Societe General.
On the comic side, he’s been featured on Comedy Central, Asia, and in the movie “I Need You to Kill” with Tom Segura, Chad Daniels and Pete Lee.
“Right before I left the States in 1989, there was a resurgence of comedy in the 1980s in Boston — and even more in New York,” he says.
“I used to go to shows every night during the days of Steve Martin. I’m a huge comedy buff. I used to do community theater.”
When he moved to Asia, he performed at venues like TakeOut Comedy Club Hong Kong, which was founded in 2007 by Jami Gong, a Chinese American standup comedian. It’s the first full-time comedy club in Asia and it fosters local English- and Cantonese-speaking talent.
“I performed at the Comedy Store in London,” he says. “I’ve also performed in China, Singapore, Philippines, Australia, Hong Kong, here at the House of Comedy in Minnesota and Off the Hook in Naples, Florida.”
Back here in Ahwatukee, part of HaHa ‘Tukee is the “Same Topic Challenge.” A week before a show, comedians are given a topic to push them out of their comfort zone.
“They have to do their set based on that topic,” he says. “It’s a fun way to see who’s really creative and gets their juices flowing. There’s a first prize of $100 every other month. The audience meter fixes the winner.”
Solimini is also behind Stand Up and Deliver, a creative course for wannabe jokesters.
“I’m extremely positive about this, not only about the venue, but the monthly show as well,” he says. “This has been a drug for me. It gives me energy to get on stage. This is a good market for HaHa ‘Tukee.”
HaHa Tukee with Anthony Solimini
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Thursdays August 19, September 16 and October 14
WHERE: Cactus Jack’s, 4747 E. Elliot Road, Ahwatukee
COST: $6 in advance; $8 at the door