Saturday, June 15
Serving as the host for the Saturday, June 15, show that serves as the finals of the festival’s stand-up competition will be Drew Carey.
Carey — who was born May 23, 1958, in Cleveland — is known not only as a stand-up comedian, but also as an actor, game show host and sports executive.
After serving in the U.S. Marine Corps for six years and making a name for himself in stand-up comedy, Carey gained popularity starring on his own sitcom, “The Drew Carey Show,” and serving as host of the U.S. version of the improv comedy show, “Whose Line Is It Anyway?”, both of which aired on ABC. He has hosted the television game show “The Price Is Right” since 2007.
He is interested in a variety of sports, has worked as a photographer at U.S. National Team soccer games, is a minority owner of the Major League Soccer team Seattle Sounders FC and a member of the WWE Hall of Fame.
In 1985, he began his comedy career by following up on a suggestion by a disc jockey friend in Cleveland. The following year, after winning an open-microphone contest, he became master of ceremonies at the Cleveland Comedy Club.
He performed at multiple comedy clubs over the next few years in both Cleveland and Los Angeles. He was first brought to the national eye as a comedian when he competed in the 1988 “Star Search” television show. But it was his 1991 appearance on “The Tonight Show” that catapulted his career. His performance that night impressed Carson, who invited Carey to the couch next to his desk; which was considered a rare honor for any comedian. Later that same year, Carey joined the 14th annual Young Comedians Special on HBO and made his first appearance on “Late Night with David Letterman.”
2013 Johnny Carson Comedy Legend Award recipient
Saturday, June 15
When Steve Wright made his first appearance on “The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson” in August 1982, little did he know that he’d soon be invited back.
Carson enjoyed Wright’s offbeat comedy routine so much that he invited him to appear again within a week — a rarity for “The Tonight Show.”
This summer, Wright will be making another return trip of sorts. He’ll be in Norfolk to accept the Johnny Carson Comedy Legend award at the 2013 Viaero Great American Comedy Festival.
Eddie Brill, the festival’s artistic director and warm-up comic for David Letterman, went to Emerson College in Massachusetts with Wright. Brill said he’s excited to have Wright at the festival.
“Steven is one of the most prolific and brilliant minds in our industry . . . continuing to make people laugh all over the world,” Brill said. “His very first appearance on ‘The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson’ was one of those moments in time where the world stopped and even Johnny had to take a breath to realize what he had just witnessed.”
Brill will interview his fellow comedian as part of the festival performance on Saturday, June 15, that also will feature headliner Drew Carey.
The festival’s Johnny Carson Comedy Legend award is one of only two awards in existence that bear the Carson name. Previous recipients have been Dick Cavett, Bill Dana, Ed Asner, Cloris Leachman and Jimmie “JJ” Walker.
“With Drew, Steven and the finals of our stand-up competition, that’s going to be quite a show,” said Lori Williams, executive director of the festival.
Wright has enjoyed a stellar career as a stand-up comedian, writer and actor.
His first stabs at comedy came after he graduated from college and became a regular performer at Ding Ho's Comedy Club and Chinese Restaurant in Cambridge, Mass.
His subsequent back-to-back performances on “The Tonight Show” helped put his fledgling career into high gear. The comic soon found himself performing his routines on "Saturday Night Live" and "Late Night with David Letterman."
Wright expanded his comedy career to include comedy albums, film and television appearances. His 1986 debut album, “I Have A Pony,” earned him a Grammy nomination. In 1985, he starred in his first HBO special. In 1989, he was honored with an Academy Award for Best Short Film for his film "The Appointments of Dennis Jennings" in which he starred and co-wrote.
Wright has been seen in numerous films including "Desperately Seeking Susan," "So I Married An Axe Murderer" and "Natural Born Killers." In 1999, he had a guest-starring role in "The Muse" starring Albert Brooks, Sharon Stone, Andie MacDowell, and Jeff Bridges. In 2008, he was honored as the first inductee into the Boston Comedy Hall of Fame.
He recently was seen in a guest role on the FX comedy series “Louie.” Wright is a regular guest on "The Late Show with David Letterman," "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," and "Late Night with Conan O'Brien," along with making appearances on Jimmy Kimmel’s and Craig Ferguson’s late-night shows. He continues touring the U.S., Canada and overseas.