Performing to a crowd in tuxes and cocktail dresses at Wine in the Pines this weekend won’t be anything new for comedian Josh Blue.
“It’s not my first black tie event that I’ve had to perform at,” Blue said. “Black tie usually isn’t the most conducive place for humor, usually it’s a little stuffy. It’s hard to laugh when you’re wearing a tight tie.”
Blue said he has a brand of humor that people can relate to and forget about their surroundings, and he has a personal relationship with Ability Connection Colorado, the beneficiary of the event, which gives him some cannon fodder.
“I know quite a bit about the school, so I can make fun of them a little bit,” he said. “I know who to taunt and tease. I like to push it up to the line and teeter there.”
Balancing on the edge of people’s comfort bubble is where Blue shines, he said — that’s where the funny comes out.
“It’s very self-deprecating humor,” he said. “I definitely take the piss out of myself. I’m happy to throw myself under the bus for your amusement in a way that’s not uncomfortable but gives you the feeling that it might be. I call it reverse teasing; I make fun of you by making fun of myself. I take your preconceived ideas of disability and put them on myself and then twist it back on you somehow.
“I just know that if you come see the show, you’re going to laugh whether you want to or not.”
Satisfy your sweet tooth
Wine in the Pines is celebrating its 30th anniversary in Keystone this weekend with a sold-out Allegrini Winemakers’ Dinner tonight and an international wine and gourmet food tasting Saturday, featuring hundreds of wines from all over the world and decadent epicurean delights from Keystone Resort executive pastry chef Ned Archibald.
Starting at 4 a.m. Saturday, Archibald will be prowling around the Keystone Conference Center setting up tables of Venetian-inspired desserts.
“I’ll be doing my big dessert spread, complete with chocolate fountain,” he said. “The theme this year, in celebration of the 30th, is venetian. The logo kind of depicts a guy in a gondola, like an Italian guy in Venice. I took that logo and reproduced it in a picture frame, so that will be part of the center pieces and I also made solid chocolate jeroboams — the big old bottles of wine.”
Each giant chocolate wine bottle is nearly 3 feet tall and contains about 30 pounds of chocolate, Archibald said. The bottles will be accented with chocolate masquerade masks and the solid chocolate numbers 3-0 covered in 22-karat gold leaf to mark the anniversary and surrounded by edible wine glasses and green leaves to symbolize grape vines.
“They have auctioned them off in past years,” Archibald said of the bottles. “They raise up to $500, I think. I never understand what someone’s going to do with 30 pounds of chocolate, but it’s for charity, so that’s good.”
Archibald is carrying the Venetian theme through his other ambrosial offerings, as well.
“There is a term Venetian pastries, which is pretty vague,” he said. “The term Venetian refers to some of the classics, but I’ve taken some liberty to see what Americans would respond to.”
Take, for instance, Archibald’s spin on tiramisu — mini cupcakes with mascarpone cheese and coffee extract inverted like a pastry — or chocolate chip-pistachio cannolis dipped in semi-sweet chocolate. He’s also creating Florentines made with honey-almond nougat and semi-sweet chocolate shells filled with cappuccino mousse topped with puffed rice and garnished with coffee beans.
“It’s a little twist on some of the things I’ve done year in and year out,” Archibald said. “I’m sure I’ll have some of the people who come year in and year out miss some of those things, but I think literally, in their current carnation, they are all originals this year.”
Comedy and cuisine
Mike and Margaret Smith, owners of Dillon Ridge Liquors, founded Wine in the Pines to provide opportunities and assistance for people like their daughter Kelly, who has cerebral palsy. Money raised will benefit the Kelly Smith Employment Center at Ability Connection Colorado, which helps people with disabilities find employment.
Blue, who also has cerebral palsy, supports the goals of Wine in the Pines and signed on because his kids attended school at Ability Connection Colorado.
“The staff was great and I really believe in the message behind what they are doing,” Blue said. “I think it’s a good school and that’s basically it. I like what they are doing.”
The comedian doesn’t practice his routines, so everything he will be presenting Saturday will be off the cuff and relatable to audiences “from young black males to old white ladies,” he said.
“I’ve never written anything down,” he said. “I just live my life and some weird thing will happen to me and I’ll talk about it on stage and say it enough on stage that it becomes a joke or routine. I take a story from my life and take out all of the extraneous words and put it into joke form.”
Blue said as long as he keeps living and keeps laughing at himself, he’ll have material to work with.
“It’s a unique perspective of laughing at things that people might not think were so funny, but I found a way to roll with it instead of being hurt by what people say about my disability or otherwise just day to day life,” he said. “I started out talking a lot about my disability and moved away from that because there’s so many things to talk about in life, but it’s always coming from the perspective of a disabled person.”