(Editor’s note: After one show, this comedy series has been discontinued.)
It may seem like nothing’s funny anymore—but producer/comedian Max Mitchell would beg to disagree.
Max Mitchell’s Comedy and Magic Show will make its debut this Friday, June 19, at the amphitheater at The River in Rancho Mirage. Boasting “the Coachella Valley’s hottest standup comedians and one cool magician,” the free performances are slated to be an ongoing thing, with shows on the first and third Friday of every month.
“It’s a live comedy show outdoors in an amphitheater in the middle of a mall,” said Mitchell. “There will be general seating and tons of room for social distancing. We hope people will dress up, get out of the house and come enjoy a fun night with some of the best local talent around.”
The lineup for June 19 includes Mitchell and fellow comedians Shann Carr, Kris Bossi and Kevin Davis, along with magician McHugh and Co. Subsequent weeks will feature different performers, although Mitchell and Carr will be regulars, along with two different comedians and possibly another magician.
Mitchell is a prolific producer and comedian. In the Coachella Valley, he has produced comedy shows at Oscar’s, AJ’s on the Green and Three Sixty North, as well as the Out for Laughs series at the Palm Springs Cultural Center. In Los Angeles, he has produced shows at Working Stage and has performed at the Comedy Store. On the road, he’s been seen at Second City Toronto, Yuk Yuks, Gotham in New York and other venues. He has also written several screenplays, stage plays and novels.
Local favorite Shann Carr has been making Palm Springs audiences laugh for a long time. Known as the gay man’s lesbian, Carr has been entertaining audiences for decades while tirelessly raising funds for local charities.
“I’m excited to get to tell stories and connect with people and connect them with each other, in a way that is powerful,” Carr said. “It’s something the pandemic had robbed us of—laughing out loud with friends. I’m jonesing to make a bunch of people laugh.”
Kris Bossi has been referred to as the desert’s unpredictable Snark Queen—a bow to her unapologetic candor and irreverent attitude.
The show is being headlined by Pennsylvania native Kevin Davis, who started doing comedy at 12 years old. After high school, Kevin joined the military. He later taught at the Marine Corps recruiter school, and began getting laughs from his students; he eventually became known as the Marine of Comedy. After a few years as a comedy-club promoter, Kevin started performing standup all over the world.
Mitchell recognizes that some may be reluctant to attend a comedy show during this new normal of social distancing and mask-wearing.
“The amphitheater is really large,” he said. “And behind it there is even more room on the mall’s plaza. It’s the perfect place to do shows under social distancing. We’ll be asking audiences to sit in their family groups and be six feet apart from any others. We are also asking audiences to wear masks. If they don’t, we may have to make them the butt of some of the comedy to get their attention.”
Mitchell admitted there are challenges to presenting a comedy show at a time when people have been isolated for months, mainlining news of sickness, death, protests and destruction.
“I’ve written quite a few new coronavirus jokes,” said Mitchell. “I try to stick to what I know. I’m gay, so I do gay jokes, marriage jokes, politics and generally make fun of this crazy place where we live. Kevin Davis is an African-American comedian who is so excellent; I’m leaving the protest jokes to him. The show is on Juneteenth, so that will make it particularly timely.”
The opportunity to do the show came up pretty fast, Mitchell said, so he didn’t have a lot of time to plan: Suddenly, he had a date—and started scrambling. However, he said he’s really excited about the lineup he was able to put together.
“My first call was to my pal Shann Carr, who’s been doing standup comedy here for 20 years. We’ve done many shows together. Thank God she said yes,” said Mitchell. “Then I called people I know and have worked with before, so I know their work. Our magician, McHugh, is great and funny and seemed a perfect fit for this venue; I’ve worked with him before as well. Then I got in touch with Kris Bossi, whom I love. She’s cool, tough and funny, and takes no prisoners. Kris referred me to Kevin Davis, who is a top comedian and tours nationally as a headliner for Improv comedy clubs. People are going to love this lineup.”
Mitchell reiterated that there’s plenty of room to social distance at the amphitheater at The River.
“Rest assured, this is the safest place to see a show in the valley,” he said. “And if enough people come, we will be at this venue for a long time to come.”
Max Mitchell’s Comedy and Magic Show premieres at 7:30 p.m., Friday, June 19, and will take place on the first and third Fridays of the month at the amphitheater at The River, 71800 Highway 111, in Rancho Mirage. Admission is free; please wear a mask. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/CoachellaComedy.