A short time ago, I ran into my old buddy Gus Paras, owner of the restaurants Athens and Kosta's before retiring from that business. He is now, among other things, one of the principals in the Comedy Club on State Street. "So how's the comedy business?" I asked. "Great!" replied Gus, fairly bouncing in his seat, stunning me with his ebullience.
I hadn't yet read Emily Mills' "Make 'Em Laugh," our cover story this week, or I'd have already known that there is no recession in Madison's comedy scene. By all accounts the local laugh industry is in a golden era of sorts. Mills reminds us of the Chris Farley influence, but Madison was producing funny folks long before that. Lest we forget, the Zucker brothers spawned Kentucky Fried Theater here in the late '60s before launching Airplane! in the cinematic world.
"Make 'Em Laugh" cites the venues and highlights some of the personalities in the local comedy culture. Among them in spirit is former Isthmus account representative Ed Herro, who left us about a year ago for a berth on a comedy road show. He is now ensconced in New York, according to Facebook, self-employed as a comedy writer.
Our news feature this week is about a decidedly more serious topic, infant mortality, but the news is good. Dane County has succeeded in lowering the infant death rate for African American babies to about the same level as whites. But what's with the rest of the state, which has the highest African American infant mortality rate in the nation?
It's "A Medical Mystery Tour," and Mary Ellen Bell is our guide, outlining the questions if not the answers in this conundrum.
A reminder: Entries for Band-to-Band Combat are due by Oct. 16 (this Friday). See TheDailyPage.com/bandtoband for further information. "That's Soooo Madison" is the theme for our photo contest. The deadline on that is Monday, Nov. 9. You can find more about it at TheDailyPage.com/photocontest.