Stage & Dance

Local comedian performs a free Christmastime show at a homeless shelter

Comedian Shawn Reynolds : The Robin Hood of Comedy , entertained at  the Community Inn shelter run by the Catholic Action Center on  Tuesday December 23, 2014 in Lexington, KY.
Comedian Shawn Reynolds : The Robin Hood of Comedy , entertained at the Community Inn shelter run by the Catholic Action Center on Tuesday December 23, 2014 in Lexington, KY. Herald-Leader

Local comedian Shawn Reynolds used humor to help people who don't have a home this Christmas.

On Tuesday night, Reynolds performed at the Community Inn, a shelter run by the Catholic Action Center for people who have no other place to stay. The inn, which opened in 2011, is open nightly from 7 p.m. to 8 a.m. Jorge Machaen and Billy Goldsmith also performed. Last summer, Reynolds, along with other comedians, created Stand-Up for Kentucky, a comedy benefit series that helps families in need. Performances are once a month at Comedy Off Broadway, and the proceeds go to a family that needs help. In November, the show's proceeds went to three families so they could buy Christmas gifts for their children. However, this time, Reynolds said rather than raising money for someone in need, the comedians decided to put on a free performance.

"Waking up on Christmas Eve in a homeless shelter can't be easy," he said.

"Laughter is the best medicine. ... It allows people to just forget about their troubles."

During his routine, Reynolds said he was excited to be at the shelter, claiming that he doesn't get out much because of his "condition" — having five kids. He equated it to having five DUIs, because he never gets to leave the house.

Machaen's routine focused on poking fun at his Mexican heritage and the racism he has encountered. After introducing himself, he made fun of people thinking his name was Jose, or telling him to get out of their country, which got laughs from the audience. He also talked about awkward situations with dating white women, such as when one girl's family assumed he liked tacos and took him to a Mexican restaurant to have him order in Spanish. He offered to teach them to order in Spanish, but instead, he told them how to say things like, "Go back to your country. I'm a racist," instead of the names of the food.

Ginny Ramsey, director of the Community Inn and co-founder of the Catholic Action Center, said it's important to provide the homeless with clean blankets, sheets and air mattresses so they can get a good night's sleep, but it's also important that they get to experience laughter.

"It was just a fun way to reach out to those who get left behind on Christmas," she said.

Reynolds also got the word out to help collect donations the shelter needs, including soap, shampoo, toilet paper and socks. Reynolds and his group brought baked goods and hot chocolate for the residents of the Community Inn.

John Moffett, 46, said he stays at the Community Inn often. He said he was excited when he heard about the comedy show. "I've never been to one."

Moffett also said he thought it was a nice idea that the comedians came to perform for free.

"Charity goes a long way," he said.

Reynolds said that now that he sees how easy it is to put on these shows and help others, he'd almost feel guilty if he stopped doing it.

"It's a very small thing to do, and if I can do it, I should do it," he said.

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