SPRING HILL — Laughter is said to be the best medicine, and for one night only, the Veterans HEAT Factory is offering an evening of healing that will go a long way.
The public is invited to enjoy a comedy event that will benefit veterans and first responders suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. “The Comedy-Time Tunnel” on Jan. 30 will feature rare comedy routines on screen from celebrated comedians such as Milton Berle, Sid Caeser, George Burns, Red Skelton, Phyllis Diller and more, provided by the National Comedy Hall of Fame Museum. Opening up for this exciting evening of laughter will be comedy magician Elliott Smith.
Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. with the main event to begin at 7 p.m. The comedy show is scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 30, at VFW Post 10209, 14736 Edward Noll Drive, Spring Hill.
Tickets are available for $20 per person by calling 352-799-5456 or visiting www.veteransheatfactory.com. Seating is limited, and social distancing will be enforced. Masks will be required for moving around the venue but not while seated for the show.
The Veterans HEAT Factory is a nonprofit organization that aims to Honor, Empower, Assist and Train (HEAT) veterans and first responders who have symptoms of PTSD by offering free services. The nonprofit works to inspire personal growth, encourage community integration, and support their ability to re-enter the workforce and achieve lifelong success.
Proceeds raised by “The Comedy-Time Tunnel” will benefit those seeking the Veterans HEAT Factory services. Gus Guadagnino, the nonprofit’s founder, said the needs of the community outnumber the amount of volunteers who give their time to helping. The comedy event will include snacks and drinks for purchase, a cash bar, raffles, and silent auction. Those interested in supporting the nonprofit but can’t attend are encouraged to purchase raffle tickets. Individuals need not be present to win.
“My father was a veteran and my wife’s father was a veteran, so anytime there’s an event to do with veterans, I’m all gung-ho for it,” said magician Smith. “If I can make them smile and forget about the bad stuff for 45 minutes, it’s so rewarding. My show is a combination of magic, illusion, mentalism where I do some mind reading, and escapology. The vehicle in which I do my magic is very comedic in nature.”
Smith’s show will include audience participation. In regard to COVID-19 restrictions, Smith said he will limit the number of people on stage with him and he will wear a mask, in addition to including hand sanitizer as part of his show.
Smith has been entertaining audiences across Canada, the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and Mexico for 40-plus years. He has performed as an opening act for rock and roll bands as well as for prime ministers of Canada, Jay Leno, and Liberace. Smith said he is the first and only comedy magician to be awarded a place on the prestigious Wall of Great Comedians at the National Comedy Hall of Fame, alongside Dave Chappelle, Jim Carrey, Craig Ferguson and others.
The Veteran’s HEAT Factory opened in October 2017 to provide a 14-week program that encompasses health and wellness to giving veterans and first responders a sense of purpose. According to the nonprofit, every day, 22 veterans with PTSD take their life and less than 50% seek help.
Through his community involvement with the VFW and other veteran organizations, Guadagnino said he saw a great need to help those who have gone into a service to protect our country. By founding the Veterans HEAT Factory, veterans and first responders can receive the care they need to lead a successful life.
“I was brought up to give back,” Guadagnino said. “My father was in the Army, and when I was younger I didn’t understand why he didn’t want to talk about it, but now I know why. I knew I had to do something for my country, but the Army wasn’t the place I wanted to go.”