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Comedian Marvin Dixon returns home to South Florida with 'Fifty Shades of Comedy'

Standup funnyman Marvin Dixon thinks he knows the reason that he’s been so successful in show biz: He shares the stage with other comedians he thinks can deliver laughs.

“A lot of headliners don’t want anyone as funny as them,” Dixon says while on tour in Atlanta. “In the famous words of Richard Pryor, ‘As long as you help others be successful, you will always be successful.’ ”

Local audiences have been following Miami-born Dixon’s regular comedy nights for going on two decades, first at the now-closed Miami Nights in the ’90s and then at “Laugh Out Loud Thursdays” at the Hollywood Improv in the 2000s. Now, he’s bringing “Fifty Shades of Comedy — the All White Edition” to the Casino at Dania Beach on Saturday, July 22. Dixon will be joined by comedians Big Sean Larkin, Darren “D.S.” Sanders and Smokey Suarez.

“A lot of clubs build their comedy night on big names,” Dixon says. “I like to book the funniest comedians in the country and sometimes that is a different person. It’s like a restaurant. Yeah, it may be the most popular restaurant, but does it have the best food?”

So here’s what Dixon thinks of the other comedians on the bill.

Smokey Suarez: “To me, the funniest comedian in New York now.”

Darren “D.S.” Sanders: “People know him from BET’s ‘ComicView.’ He did the carnival Cruise Line for years. He was one of the funniest comedian on the cruise lines. Everybody said that.”

Big Sean Larkin: “One of comedy’s best-kept secrets — very conscientious, very clever. And straight up, crazy, hilarious. He’ll take something obvious and make you look at it in a totally different way.”

“I follow the pattern of one of my favorite comedians, Redd Foxx,” Dixon says. “He knew all these comedians from working on the chitlin’ circuit. He was bringing on all these comedians on TV that he thought deserved a break. That’s how he did his TV show [‘Sanford and Son’]. If you read the autobiography of Redd Foxx … you’ll see that the TV network wanted to audition all these actors, but Redd said, ‘I know who can play these parts.’ The network said, ‘We don’t know who these people are.’ And Redd said, ‘Trust me.’ And he ended up having the No. 1 TV show.”

Here is more about “Fifty Shades of Comedy” and Dixon:

Why is this show called “Fifty Shades of Comedy”?

I changed the name to “Fifty Shades” because comedy comes in all shades, black, white, Latin — everybody, all nationalities. Some people like rap music, some rock ‘n’ roll, some R&B, some heavy metal, but everybody likes to laugh. Everybody.

What’s with “The All White Edition” in the title?

Well, all the comedians will be dressed in white and all the audience will have white on. It’s like an all-white soiree. It was something we usually did during the summer. We’ve been doing it since the early 2000s. And then, everyone mixes and mingles afterward.

You went to Miami Carol City High School when you lived here, but where did you hang out when you were growing up in South Florida?

If there were girls, I was there. That was my motto back then. We would catch the bus to the [Dadeland] mall to walk around and look at girls. We would have pen and paper and bet on who could get the most numbers. We used to go to the skating rink and do the same thing. Sometimes, there would be a “Jam at the Park,” and there I’d be, trying to get that number.

Were you always a jokester?

The way I got into it was crazy. I was always naturally funny, ranking [and] playing the dozens. Believe me, you don’t want to go against me playing the dozens. I would look and dissect something about you and make everyone laugh. The only thing they could talk about me was that I was really skinny and wore glasses. That was all they could get on me. Let’s say they were cross-eyed. I would say, “You so cross-eyed you walk out of the house and walk right back in and wonder how you got there. You so cross-eyed you drop a dime and pick up two nickels.”

How did you start doing standup comedy?

A friend of my family, Verbon Greir … would always laugh at me telling jokes. He was an older guy, and he says now that, “I knew you could cater to everyone. You were in your early 20s and you got these old men dying laughing.” So he said I should go to a comedy club. Now, I had never been to a comedy show in my life … except for Eddie Murphy. I watched the comedians [at Miami Nights]. I thought they were all right. Verbon said, “You need to come back.” I didn’t know they signed me up in the amateur portion of the show. I’m sitting there, and they call one comedian. It was a girl. She did OK. Then, they said, “Coming to the stage next is Marvin Dixon.” I thought damn, someone here has the same name as me. Verbon … pushed me onstage. They said, “You got three minutes.” Verbon said later, “If you had prepared, you wouldn’t have done it.’ Everybody was falling out laughing.

What was it like in the beginning, before you made a name for yourself in the business?

I had a good job at the airport. I was a skycap. It was 1992, the same year as Hurricane Andrew. I gave my two-week notice. I said, “I don’t have a plan B, so it’s got to work.” And it has. My first show has seven people. I was a one-stop shop. I put fliers in every business I could think of from south Fort Lauderdale all the way to Liberty City, every black business I knew. I put tickets with these businesses. That’s all I did all week. I went from seven people a week on Tuesdays to 1,000 every night. I would go to the Improv and sign up for open-mike night, and they would never let me go up. They just had their favorites. So James T at Hot 105, a radio icon, said to me one time, “Make it happen around them.” That’s when I started [at] Miami Nights. I did a night when they usually didn’t have anyone, Tuesday nights, and pretty soon they had more people that night than they had the whole week at the comedy club.

“Fifty Shades of Comedy — the All White Edition” will begin 8 p.m. Saturday, July 22, in Stage 954 at the Casino at Dania Beach, 301 E. Dania Beach Blvd. Tickets cost $15, $20 and $200 (VIP seats at table for four). To order, call 844-234-7469 or go to

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