Patrick Hanifin: Clean comedy show is no joke for SPHS Band program fundraiser

February 17, 2010
Santa Paula High School

Patrick Hanifin

A comedy show for the whole family - and that’s no joke - is a must attend Saturday when Patrick Hanifin headlines “A Funny Thing Happened On The Way to Santa Paula!” The February 20 show will benefit the Santa Paula High School Music Program and tickets are only $10 each.

This family friendly night of comedy will help the award-winning SPHS Cardinal Band, Jazz Band and Color Guard. According to Brenda Van Meter, president of the SPHS Music Boosters, “The money raised from Patrick’s appearance will go towards expenses for the students,” close to $400 each, “to attend the Heritage Music Festival in San Diego” this spring.

Hanifin’s appearance promises to be a laugh a minute: the former surf shop owner turned comedian about 30 years ago, following in the funny footsteps of comics he watched on television and at comedy clubs. After Hanifin sold his business, and with some other solid investments under his belt, he decided to attend workshops at the famous Comedy Store.

Hanifin said of the workshops, “I thought I won’t just go, I should have an act,” and he turned a room in his home into a soundproof studio to get to work. After a few Comedy Store workshops, he performed at a Long Beach club’s open microphone night.

“I did pretty well... they said come back” when they would give the budding comic a better slot, an offer Hanifin at first rejected due to lack of self-confidence. Hanifin returned to the Comedy Store, “worked really hard on it,” and gained the status of a non-paid regular until he was put on the payroll as a regular performer.

One night he had the prime Monday night 9 p.m. timeslot, and was told he would host the whole evening’s lineup of comedians. “I said ‘Really?’” Hanifin recounted, with a note of disbelief still in his voice. It was just the first of many times he performed and hosted for one the world’s most famous comedy clubs. 

Now known as St. Patrick, the patron saint of clean comedy, the title was something that came later in his career. “It didn’t even occur to me for a long time” to go squeaky clean, although Hanifin said his comedy never could be characterized as dirty. “The language,” the hallmark of other comics, wasn’t his thing, “But I didn’t even think about it,” as it evoked plenty of laughs.

About six years ago Hanifin decided to come clean, or rather go clean: “I just got tired of the generic material and got rid of all the hack. Next thing I know I got a lot of high-paying jobs... I was surprised but it’s what I really enjoy doing now.”

Hanifin admits “It’s fun to make people laugh. If I won the Lottery tomorrow I would still keep doing what I’m doing,” not for the money, but just because “I enjoy it!”

Over the course of his career he worked with many of the kings of comedy - including the late icon of irony Stanley Myron Handleman, who Hanifin studied with in the mid-1980s - and his own name ranks as the number one comedian throughout much of Southern California, where he’s won or been a finalist in many other comic stand (up) offs. “My credits,” Hanifin noted modestly, “are pretty good.”

And so is his sense of charity; for the Santa Paula show, “I gave them a pretty good rate,” his practice with nonprofits. He joked his selection for Saturday’s benefit was based “partially on my ability... and partially because I was reasonable.”

But he wholly supports the school band programs and Van Meter. “It’s a great cause and Brenda a good person, been really involved in this show to make some money for the kids’ music programs.”

Hanifin annually works a “couple of hundred” gigs, with shows that have more production values than conventional standup. “My act is just quite a bit different... people will see some things they won’t see on Comedy Central. And, they’ll have a clean but hilarious good time. They’ll find you don’t have to be dirty to be funny, there’s a whole other side to humor.”

Hanifin’s own particular whole other side to humor led to his headlining the recent Medora Musical Festival in North Dakota, a unique event that draws a national audience. “I mean, how do you get 2,000 people to come to an event every night in North Dakota?” 

“St. Patrick” appreciates those who do unto others, especially when his own brand of clean comedy can be used to help raise money for a good cause.

Before the 7 p.m. start of a “A Funny Thing Happened On The Way to Santa Paula!” food booths will be open starting at 5:30 p.m. and musical entertainment will be offered by the SPHS Jazz Band. All the fun will be at the SPHS Freeman Eakins Auditorium, 404 N. 6th Street.

Tickets are available from band students, at the Santa Paula Times, 944 E. Main St. and at the door the night of the show. For additional information, call 805-229-7113.

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