Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2013, 4:00 am

"Clean Comedy Guy" performs church fundraiser

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By Leon Lagerstam, llagerstam@qconline.com

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Photo: John Greenwood/jgreenwood@qconline.com
Adrian Henry and members of Trinity Community Baptist Church in Moline will host a Family Comedy Jam to raise money for an upcoming youth retreat. The comedy jam will be held Sunday, Nov. 10, at the Establishment Theatre, 220 19th St., Rock Island. Doors will open at 4:30 p.m., followed by the show at 5 p.m., which features nationally known standup comedian David Graham. Tickets will cost $20 for adults and $10 for youth 17 and younger. For information, call 309-797-8793.
ROCK ISLAND -- The ice cream man plays music when he's out of treats.

At least, that's what comedian David Graham remembers his father saying.

"My father was a creative genius," Mr. Graham said in a telephone interview. "He could take $5 and stretch it for two months," saying and doing such things.

Mr. Graham, from the St. Louis area, will be the featured performer at a Family Comedy Jam on Sunday, Nov. 10, at Comedy Sportz, 220 19th St., Rock Island, as a fundraiser for Trinity Community Baptist Church in Moline. Doors will open at 4:30 p.m., followed by the show at 5 p.m. Davenport comedian Chris Schlicting will perform an opening act.

Money raised will go toward a spring youth retreat at the Benet House Retreat Center at St. Mary Monastery in Rock Island, church deacon Adrian Henry said. It's the first time the church has tried to hold a comedy jam fundraiser. The community youth retreat also will be a first-time event, Deacon Henry said.

"Depending on how well the comedy jam event goes, it will determine if the retreat will be an overnight or not," he said.

Based on past successes enjoyed by "Comedy for a Cause" events in St. Louis and Mr. Graham's reputation as the "Clean Comedy Guy," Deacon Henry said he and his church expect a successful event.

In August, the church hosted guest speaker, the Rev. Carla Campbell, from St. Louis, and learned how Mr. Graham had helped her ministry.

"I saw her flier, and it spurred me to organize one here, with the help of many others in the church and community," Deacon Henry said.

The church has rented Comedy Sportz for the night and will cover Mr. Graham's fees. Tickets, available at familycomedyjam.eventbrite.com, cost $21.49, including handling fees, for adults, and $11.24 for those 17 and younger. The website accepts most major credit cards and PayPal.

Tickets -- $20 for adults and $10 for youths- - also will be available at the door or at Images of You, 327 E. Locus St., Davenport; DaVarah Salon and Spa, 1616 5th Ave., Moline; and Jean's Platinum Stylez Beauty Supplies, 3786 11th St., Rock Island. For information, call 309-797-8793.

"Our goal is to fill the house, which means 185 people," Deacon Henry said. "And we're hoping to realize about $4,000 in profits for our youth-retreat plans."

Mr. Graham said he's inspired by "a type of event that's raising money for youth. It's worth every single effort, and, from my standpoint as a performer, it means I absolutely want to put my best foot forward to go the extra mile to benefit children."

Mr. Graham, also a practicing minister, has shared the stage with comedians Chris Rock, Adam Sandler, Jimmy "JJ" Walker and Sinbad, among others, according to a press release. He's appeared on ComedyCentral, Last Comic Standing, America's Funniest People and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

"My show is straight-ahead and unpredictable," Mr. Graham said. "People attending are going to see a lot of audience participation, impressions, a little singing, including a Motown Review, with a tribute to The Temptations, in which I do all four parts a capella. I'm clean, but a little bit shy of sane."

Many not-so-clean comedians have had Mr. Graham open for them, "which forced me to up my game," he said. He has spent more than 11 years doing stand-up comedy, he said.

Being the "Clean Comedy Guy" also has opened many doors for him. For example, he has annually performed during the Heisman Trophy Association's spring presentation, "where I get to perform in front of my sports heroes, instead of being in front of guys drunk enough they can't stand up."

Mr. Graham said he felt called by God into the ministry when we was 13, and later "felt God tapping me on my shoulder to become a comedian, so I've always been clean."