Source: Sherman Publications

Fighting cancer with laughter

April 18, 2012

By Lance Farrell

Leader Staff Writer

Chardonnay restaurant in Oxford will host a Relay for Life comedy fundraiser on Saturday, April 21.

Comedians Trevor Smith and Norm Stulz will perform Saturday night. Stulz is a well-known 31-year veteran of the comedy scene, and is highly regarded by his peers. Tim Allen has said “I wish I could tell a story the way Norm does . . . he’s the master.”

Trevor is an understated newcomer out of Pinkney, MI. At 23 years of age, he’s been touring professionally for 5 years.

Comedy was originally just “something to do” in college but has now transformed into a “great way to earn a a living,” Smith noted.

Smith envisions a long career in the competitive world of stand-up comedy. He said he plans to “stay busy” and try to fill the largely missed “middle-class” of comedy.

Though just a whippersnapper, he cites comedy greats from his Dad’s old album collection like Bill Cosby, George Carlin, and Bob Newhart among his early influences.

Smith looks up to headliner Norm Stulz, and has found the veteran open and supportive. Stulz is “a perfect example of [the] sustainable comedy career” Smith is trying to emulate.

Norm spoke from his car on the way to a show in Cincinatti. He considered compliments like Smith’s to be the highest ones a performer can receive, because these opinions come from those who know the craft.

Stulz is another Michigan native on the bill, and has been performing in front of audiences since the 2nd grade.

His professional comedy life began in 1981, and without boasting, says his show is better now than ever.

Like Trevor Smith, Stulz looks to Carlin and Cosby, but points to earlier legends like Red Skelton, Jonathan Winters and Jackie Gleason for the genesis of his style.

Stulz’s combination of narrative and animation makes for a potent blend of riveting personal comedy.

He said that life on the comedy circuit is a tough one, but he has been able to manage with the help of his wife who has worked tirelessly beside him as comptroller, agent, and virtual co-writer.

Stulz said his comedy isn’t something he writes out; rather his show and jokes have evolved with each telling.

He likened his act to a 1-hour lecture: he tells a story, embellishes it as he goes, and then ad libs throughout.

Afterward, he’ll retain the bits that seemed funniest and lose those that didn’t quite fly.

Despite the serious circumstances his audience may be going through, Stulz doesn’t find benefits like the Relay for Life to be too challenging.

He specializes in taking audiences “out of their world, bringing them into (his) for an hour and then setting them loose”

Such a diversion is just what the doctor ordered in many cases, since laughter triggers so many positive associations, Stulz reasoned.

Be sure to mark your calendar for Saturday, April 21st at 8 p.m. when Norm Stulz and Trevor Smith bring a home-grown, healing brand of comedy to Chardonnay in Oxford.

For ticket information, please contact Windy Nuss at 248-693-3169 or through email at

Tickets are $20.00 each which includes appetizers to proceed the show.

A cash bar will also be available.