RED WING -- The Sheldon Theatre's main floor and balcony were full on Friday, Oct. 4. Red Wing residents and visitors crammed into nearly every seat to see the nationally known and loved stand-up comedian Tom Papa.
Papa has 20-plus years of comedy experience and can be heard weekly on “Live From Here,” the most recent version of the classic radio show “A Prairie Home Companion.”
Once Papa got the crowd laughing, there was no slowing down. For about an hour people were wiping tears, falling into those seated next to them with laughter and trying to remember to breathe through the laughs.
The theme of the night was “you’re doing all right": No one is perfect, but that’s OK. Sure, you may not have the perfect body, or the perfect life, but that’s OK. You can make the most of what you have now.
Along with his rehearsed and prepared jokes, Papa improvised to talk about Red Wing and people in the crowd. He chatted with a few people sitting in the front row about their first cars, how long they have been married and if they have kids. When prompted to report on Red Wing during his “Live From Here” segment, the comedian paused and told the crowd: "Have you been to a town where you can’t get food past 8 p.m.? I have."
After walking off stage to a standing ovation, Papa returned to take questions. One woman in the balcony asked him to promise that he would return to Red Wing. He said that even though a lot of people have no idea where Red Wing is, and that it’s really cold here, the town and the Sheldon are doing something right, and he’ll be back.
“He’s the funniest guy on the planet,” said one theater-goer after the show. That sentiment seemed to be the general consensus of those who attended, and plan to attend the promised future show in Red Wing’s jewel box.
To warm up the crowd for Papa, stand-up Kira Soltanovich took the stage.
Soltanovich, a comedian born in Russia and now living in Los Angeles, has a unique comedic style: blending her experiences living with Russian parents and being a mother of an 8 and 4-year-old.
One of Soltanovich’s jokes, which is also on her stand-up special “You Did This to Me,” was that when she was giving birth, her mother was in the room . When Soltanovich asked for an epidural, her mother said, “In Russia we don’t have epidural, in Russia, you know what they give you? Punch you in face!”
Like Papa, Soltanovich interacted with the crowd and improvised with them. One of the audience members in the front row was 22, something that Soltanovich continually returned to, making jokes about how young he was. The crowd loved it.