Lisa Corrao, comedian and unrepentant geek, acknowledges the dilemma folks may be facing on Wednesday night: her standup performance at the Wynwood Comedy Festival or another helping of "Star Wars."
"I know it's taking your precious time away, so no hesitation: See 'Star Wars' again. But only after you watch my comedy show," says Corrao, a mainstay and booker at such nerd conventions as Florida Supercon and Magic City Comic Con.
Corrao is co-host of the inaugural festival at Wynwood club Shots Miami, on a bill featuring 30 South Florida comedians. The fest benefits Guitars Over Guns, a nonprofit launched by trombonist Chad Bernstein of Miami bands Suenalo and Spam Allstars to help mentor at-risk youth through music education.
For Corrao, a Fort Lauderdale native who moved to New York in February, the cause of helping at-risk youth is a throwback to another life. A decade earlier, Corrao taught sixth grade history at Silver Lakes Middle School in Pompano Beach. As the school's resident "funny teacher," Corrao invented an "afterschool comedy club" to steer troubled students off the streets.
"There's different ways to refocus negative behaviors," Corrao says. "So I made this paper wall with red bricks over it that kids would stand in front of and perform standup, and they played it over the morning announcements. It was a positive thing for them to do. Now my students are old enough to see my professional standup, which makes me feel crazy-old."
The festival is the brainchild of Ben Leis, the managing director of Comic Cure, which programs monthly Miami comedy shows paired with charitable causes. November's event, the Brickell Comedy Fest, raised $1,000 for Habitat for Humanity of Greater Miami, Leis says.
Leis, whose comedian brother Richy Leis is Wynwood Comedy Festival's other co-host, says these multi-act festivals raise a torch for South Florida's brand of comedy.
"Pretty much everyone on the bill has a tie with South Florida," Leis says. "And some of them have gone on to bigger markets, like Comedy Central and VH1 and TMZ."
The inaugural Wynwood Comedy Festival runs 7-8:30 p.m. and 9-10:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 23, at Shots Miami, 311 NW 23rd St., in Miami. Admission costs $10-$15, $20 at the door, with a two-drink minimum. Call 786-564-2291 or go to WynwoodComedyFestival.Eventbrite.com.