Summit County Preschool fundraiser to make laughs with comedian Sam Adams
Largest event for school hopes to bring in thousands of dollars
Summit County Preschool is ready to make you laugh. The nonprofit’s annual fundraiser returns this week with Denver-based Sam Adams to perform stand-up comedy as guests enjoy food, drinks and more.
Preschool Executive Director Jennifer Tarrant wanted to refresh the event by decorating it like a comedy club and switching the Italian cuisine to a taco and burrito bar. Tarrant also has a goal to double what was made last year and raise around $15,000, if not more. To help accomplish that, people can bid on a mix of gift cards, ski passes, jewelry and other items in a silent auction.
Some unique items are a Half Baked Harvest cookbook signed by Tieghan Gerard, along with Staub cookware, kitchen towels and a signed apron. There is also a handmade birdhouse, as well as goods from businesses like Breckenridge Grand Vacations, Outer Range Brewing Co., Dillon Dam Brewery, Rivers Clothing Co. and Iron Mountain Hot Springs.
“I think every time we throw this event, we want it to have a new feel every year,” Tarrant said.
Adams is familiar with adapting, adjusting and accepting change. The coronavirus pandemic canceled many planned gigs and he found himself telling jokes over Zoom for corporate happy hours.
What: Summit County Preschool Comedy Night with Sam Adams
When: 6-9:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 8
Where: Frisco Day Lodge, 621 Recreation Way, Frisco
Cost: $35. Visit SummitCountyPreschool.com to purchase or donate. Tickets also available from the school front desk and at the door. Adults only. Child care available by reservation.
“They said to save money for a rainy day, they didn’t say to save money for a pandemic,” Adams said, laughing.
It was a difficult and strange experience at times because he couldn’t hear the audience laughing or clapping. But he said he rode it out and got used to it, and he still does a couple on occasion.
His show, however, will be in person at the Frisco Day Lodge. Adams is no stranger to Summit County, having performed at venues like Warren Station Center for the Arts before. He has shared stages with national touring comedians like Craig Ferguson, Frank Caliendo, Kevin Nealon and David Alan Grier, and guests can expect clean, observational and self-deprecating humor on topics like being a parent and life in one’s 60s.
Adams has lived in Colorado since 1984. He moved to the Front Range from Cleveland following the recommendation of a friend talking about the bustling economy. Wanting to no longer be an insurance clerk waiting to take over the family house, he sold his car and bought a one-way bus ticket.
He arrived in the fall and was enamored with the views.
“Everything seemed so scenic,” Adams said. “In Cleveland, once the weather gets cold everything goes gray and stays gray from late October until April.”
Colorado pressed creative buttons for him, kept him from becoming stagnant and introduced him to the world of open mics. Yet stand-up comedy was always on the side as he worked as a sports reporter. He was with The Denver Post from 1986-1995 before joining the Rocky Mountain News in 1996.
Adams kept his comedy life and professional career separate, writing his sports columns to be more serious while also not making his whole comedy routine about the Denver Broncos. However, a pivotal moment came when the Rocky Mountain News shuttered in February 2009.
He took some time to figure out what he wanted to do, such as possibly go back to The Denver Post, but in the end he decided to sign up for the Great American Comedy Festival that summer.
“I was getting better at it, but I was never going to quit my day job to be a comedian,” Adams said. “But the day job quit me.”
Held in Norfolk, Nebraska, as a tribute to Johnny Carson, the festival nudged Adams along and reassured the then-49-year-old that he was heading down the right path. He entered the competition as an amateur and won first, yet when a handpicked professional got sick, he moved up a division and finished second.
Adams said Wende Curtis of Denver’s Comedy Works judged and was impressed. A window opportunity opened, and he became a regular opener at Comedy Works in addition to frequently booking corporate and conference gigs in Nebraska.
“I like to joke that I’m the Wayne Newton of Nebraska,” Adams said. “… And I never had to move back to Cleveland.”
Adams said he likes the challenge of being a working comedian.
“I’m not doing it to be famous,” Adams said. “I have a mortgage. I need that heat bill paid. There is maybe a little bit more stress than those that who are much more famous than me, but it also keeps a fire lit under me.”
However, that isn’t to say Adams hasn’t has had a share of success. In 2018, the “True Color” video clip from his Dry Bar Comedy special went viral with over 10 million Facebook views in less than 72 hours, and it now has over 34 million views. Clips from Sam’s Dry Bar special have generated over 45 million social media views worldwide.
Adams theorizes that it may not be a true figure due to bots inflating the metrics, but he is nevertheless humbled by it — especially as a comedian who started before the advent of social media — and still gets recognized for the jokes.
“I’ve never had anything like that happen to me, and I never thought anything like that would happen to me,” Adams said.
Adams will be filming his next Dry Bar special Nov. 4.
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