Dean Napolitano Headlines Pride Month Comedy Benefit at Will’s Pub

Comedy for a purpose; comedy for a cause.
Dean Napolitano

Comedian Dean Napolitano

There’s no shortage of laughs in Orlando, as Orlando Magazine’s night-by-night listing of comedy mics and showcases reveals. Comedy show producer Lesley Jo puts on events regularly in Deland and Sanford, and now she is showing up in the Mills/50 neighborhood with “Come As You Are,” a June 15th showcase to benefit the Zebra Coalition.

Jo’s aim is clear: “I love comedy, and I like providing a safe space for people to laugh when they need a laugh. When it benefits a good cause, I feel like I’m fulfilling a bigger purpose in life.”

Will Walker donated the use of his performance venue Will’s Pub, and the Dirty Laundry patio behind Lil Indies next door. A line-up of seven comedians will take the stage at Will’s, and two musicians, Sean Shakespeare and Addison Muha will perform at Lil Indies. Details about all the entertainers can be found here.

Jo secured the venue and then set out to find the talent. Last month, she enjoyed a night of comedy at Barley and Vine Biergarten on East Washington Street when Dean Napolitano took the stage. The Deltona-based comedian’s stature is unmatched after decades of hard-won growth as a comedian and actor, having shared the stage with comedians including Joan Rivers, Don Rickles, and Louie Anderson. Jo knew Napolitano would make the perfect headliner for Come As You Are, and she didn’t hesitate to ask him. He agreed immediately.

“Anytime I can help out an organization helping others through times of uncertainty and hardship in their lives, I want to do it. It’s sad to realize that kids coming to terms with their identity and wanting to come out are frequently ostracized or bullied. What kids need is support,” he said.

Zebra Coalition is a network of organizations that provide services to LGBTQ+ youth ages 13 to 24. The Coalition assists young people as they face homelessness, bullying, isolation from their families, and physical, sexual, and drug abuse with individualized programs to guide them to recovery and stability.

“Zebra Coalition greatly appreciates all of the support from our local businesses. Will’s Pub has been a longstanding partner to our organization, and we thank them for all they do to help us provide critical services to LGBTQ+ youth in our community,” said Heather Wilkie, executive director of Zebra Coalition.

Jo, the event producer, also has a heart for the Zebra Coalition’s mission. “I was a teenager when I was kicked out of my home because my parents didn’t agree with my sexuality, so anything I can do to pay it forward, so other kids have a brighter future, I’m here for it. That also explains why I’m a standup comedian. There’s a lot of material along the way, regardless of where you fall on the spectrum.”

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Zebra Coalition


The comedy show begins at 8 p.m. and stretches until 10:30 or 11 p.m., with intermissions for raffles that will further benefit Zebra Coalition. Music starts on the patio at 9 p.m. and will run concurrently with the comedy show. All are welcome – and the music is free. Tickets are $15 and are available here.


Categories: Art & Entertainment, Nightlife & Bars, Performing Arts