Love and laughter will be in the air this Valentine’s Day weekend.
Five comedians will perform Saturday at the Pavilion on the Lake in Atascadero as part of The Big Laugh comedy series. The lineup includes standup comedians Orny Adams, Bil Dwyer, Mrs Hughes and Myk Powell.
Paso Robles comic Lizette Mizelle, who launched The Big Laugh on Valentine’s Day 2009, will also join in the fun.
In anticipation of Saturday’s event, which includes pre-show music by Tim Pacheco and Cyndi Myers, here are profiles of three of the featured comedians.
When filmmakers set out to chronicle “Seinfeld” star Jerry Seinfeld’s return to the standup circuit in the 2002 documentary “Comedian,” they never bargained on meeting up-and-comer Orny Adams.
Born and raised in Lexington, Mass., Adams — born Adam Orenstein — graduated from Emory University in Atlanta in 1993 with a degree in philosophy and political science.
Disney casting agents discovered the comic in Boston in 1996 and flew him to Los Angeles to consider him as the star of his own sitcom. Although the deal fell through, Adams was able to parlay the resulting buzz into several New York City gigs.
“All of a sudden Seinfeld popped up on the scene and he started derailing everything I’m working for,” Adams recalled. “I’m closing three shows a night and suddenly he’d show up and bump me.”
An angered Adams told Seinfeld exactly what he thought of his act — and ended up on film.
“Seinfeld says I’m the most honest man he’s ever met,” the comic said. “I’ve just learned to fake smile. … It’s helped my career more than a Comedy Central special, more than the best joke I’ve ever written.”
Although he’s dealt with hype his entire career, Adams said a little ego goes a long way.
“As a performer, as an athlete, as the president of the United States, you have to have the hubris (to believe) you’re the best or get off the stage,” said the comic, who followed his debut CD/DVD, “Path of Most Resistance,” with the special “Orny Adams Takes the Third” in 2010. He’s appeared on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” and “The Late Show with David Letterman,” developed talk shows for CBS and TBS, and taped the series “Modern Chaos with Orny Adams” for the Discovery Channel.
Adams can currently be seen as Coach Bobby Finstock on MTV’s “Teen Wolf.”
“What’s interesting to me being on ‘Teen Wolf’ is I see myself as a young kid. I’m still unmarried. I don’t have any kids,” said Adams, who has fond memories of the original 1985 film. “As the show airs … I go, ‘Wait a minute, am I the old fat guy on the show?’ ”
“I thought I was the sex symbol,” he added. “I thought I was their (George) Clooney.”
Does Bil Dwyer really love the 1980s?
A familiar sight on VH1, Dwyer has paid tribute to the pop culture of the past on such nostalgic TV shows such as “I Love the ’70s,” “I Love the ’80s 3-D,” “I Love the ’90s” and “I Love the New Millennium.”
“They tell you all the categories and you think to yourself, ‘Oh hey, I forgot about that,’ and ‘Oh yeah, that was hilarious,’ ” said Dwyer, confirming that the ’80s were his favorite decade. “That was really an exciting, weird funny time.”
Born and raised in the Chicago suburb of Evergreen Park, Ill., Dwyer caught the comedy bug while studying broadcasting at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in radio and television, he moved to Los Angeles in search of a career.
“I really knew nothing about show business or life, so I thought the best way to get myself involved was to become a Universal Studios tour guide,” the comic recalled, adding sarcastically, “It really was a tremendously well-thought-out plan.”
His first open mike night at the Improv in Hollywood didn’t go much better. “I spoke so fast I (went through) my whole five minutes of material in two minutes,” Dwyer said. “I had to take a break from standup for years. It terrified me.”
Fortunately, Dwyer has found his niche as a comedian and television personality.
“I’ve loved game shows my whole life,” said Dwyer, who has hosted the game shows “Dirty Rotten Cheater,” “Extreme Dodgeball” and “I’ve Got a Secret,” to name a few. “(If) you like talking to people, you like rules, you like gameplay, that all points to game show host or weather man.”
He’s even tried his hand at reality television, appearing as a contestant on the fourth season of NBC’s “Last Comic Standing.”
“It was awful,” he said, reserving much of his scorn for the venue, the Queen Mary ocean liner in Long Beach. “There are germs on the Queen Mary that Jonas Salk was working on.”
Asked why he competed on “Last Comic Standing” in 2006, Dwyer said, “The standup comedian in my life is being judged (all the time), so I thought I might as well do it on TV.”
Carol Hughes remembers watching comedian Phyllis Diller on “The Merv Griffin Show.”
When Diller mentioned that she started doing standup at age 39, “I thought, ‘Well, I have plenty of time,’ ” recalled Hughes, who was in her 20s at the time.
That prediction turned out to be true.
“I am a very fortunate person,” said Hughes, who bills herself as “America’s funniest grandma.” “I have absolutely no ambition. Things fall in my lap and I’m too lazy to say, ‘I don’t want to do that.’ ”
A California resident since age 14, Hughes launched her comedy career at age 40 on the encouragement of comedian Candy Carr.
“She said, ‘Write five funny minutes and go to the Improv,’ ” Hughes recalled. “I got a standing ovation.”
She dubbed herself “Mrs. John Hughes,” eventually dropping the “John” when people kept mistaking her for her husband.
At the time, Hughes was teaching a class about antiques at Torrance Adult School. She used the class, which she taught for 14-1/2 years, as a way to hone her standup act.
“Some of the classes were so funny that I said, ‘You cannot tape or videotape this,’ ” said Hughes, recalling one lesson on hand-blown glass bottles rife with sexual innuendo. “The more you are in front of people, the more fertile your mind becomes.”
Hughes’ biggest break came 10 years into her comedy career, when Merv Griffin’s producer spotted her performing in Florida. She spent six or seven years working for Griffin, entertaining audiences in Atlantic City, Las Vegas and elsewhere.
“He was the loveliest man on the face of the Earth,” Hughes said of Griffin, who died in 2007.
Hughes, whose accomplishments include two comedy CDs and a line of greeting cards, lived in Torrance for 27 years before moving to the Central Coast more than two decades ago.
These days, her family figures prominently in her act.
Take the time that her younger daughter handed her a used tissue with the words “Oh mother, you know Kleenex. You keep it long enough, it gets good again.”
Hughes also cracks plenty of jokes about Scooter, a laid-back surfer who recently got engaged to his girlfriend, Hiawatha.
“They were in a big rush to get married,” the comic said, but plans have been delayed. “We think she got her period.”
IF YOU GO
Comedy Is in the Air
8 p.m. Saturday, doors open at 7 p.m.
Pavilion on the Lake, 9315 Pismo Ave., Atascadero
$30, $35 at the door
712-0400 or www.thebiglaugh.net