LIBERTY — Mike Van De Carr is aiming to improve the collective contribution of last year’s comedy show benefiting the Liberty Christmas Tree Program, which lends a hand to disadvantaged families and older adults facing a difficult holiday season. Tickets are required for the Saturday, Nov. 9, variety show, which begins at 7 p.m.
Last year, the 700-seat Liberty Community Center Performing Arts Theatre had 538 people in the seats and 660 items of food donated. Van De Carr, who promises a night of comedy and magic under his stage name Crazy Mike V, hopes the community can do more to help the charity that assists people in situations he was once in.
“My biological father was abusive, but I found I could make jokes and do magic,” he said. “He threw me out in a Chicago winter and I would perform magic on the subway platform. At the age of 23, I found my faith and realized I could help people. Now, I could keep to myself but I am able to help other people. I openly go and ask, ‘What can I do?’”
Right now, Van De Carr has more than 400 tickets gone and wants to pack the theater.
The ticket price, the performer said, is a donation of nonperishable food items.
“Bring some quality canned foods and enjoy. I want people to get out of their bubble for the evening. Think about why a person may need help. It could be a health concern, … a multitude of reasons, but something has changed. We have to be open to understanding and not be selfish. Spare some cans.”
Van De Carr believes in the power of laughter.
“It’s a job to make people laugh,” he said. “It’s not easy. I’m not a standup comedian, rather I am putting together a full show. I work on the magic and the comedy. It takes a year to get a new routine down, and I’m still tinkering.”
Liberty Parks Community Services Manager Hailey Kellerstrass said she is thrilled to see Van De Carr coming in again to lend a hand. Kellerstrass serves as the city contact for the Liberty Christmas Tree Program.
“Right now, food donations are the biggest thing we need,” she said. “Crazy Mike V’s show is a draw and hopefully will make a big dent in our needs. It’s so great to have him donate his time for this show. The goal this year is to collect 10,000 pounds of food.”
While he will headline the show, Van De Carr will also be part of the opening act with his daughter, Scarlett, as the musical duo Homegrown Dreamers. The Studio, Liberty Dance & Glee will also perform.
“Last year was a great experience and now I know what works,” the magician said. “Humor really works best when you make fun of yourself first and then stay light-hearted.”
The show is a family-friendly.
“I am promoting the Card Trick of Death, but it’s the farthest thing from anything scary. In the end, this is my chance again to do good for where I live,” he said.