Comedian Thea Vidale at the Golden Gecko
By by camille m. firstname.lastname@example.org
July 11, 2012 at 2:11 a.m.
IF YOU GO
• WHEN: 9 p.m. start time; 6:30-8 p.m. dinner, Saturday
• WHERE: The Golden Gecko, 202 E. Forrest St., Victoria
• HOW MUCH: $25, dinner and show; $10 show only
• FOR MORE INFORMATION: Call 361-655-9019
she's done it all
If you've watched a decent amount of television in the past 20 years, you'll more than likely have seen Thea Vidale on your screen at some time or another. From her eponymous breakout show to her riotous stint with World Wrestling Entertainment, here's some places you might have seen Vidale before.
• In 1993 Thea burst on to the scene in "Thea," the first time an African-American female comedienne was the star of a series named after her. The show also featured a then unknown Brandy, who would go on to later star in her own smash hit show, "Moesha." This promotional photo for the series showcased Thea who played a widowed mother raising her kids in Houston.
• In 1996 Thea made an appearance on another groundbreaking show. This time it was with America's Favorite Lesbian, Ellen (left), who made history on the show when she came out on the series.
• Thea has worked with the Wayans brothers on two occasions. First with Shawn and Marlon on "The Wayans Bros.," (shown below with fellow show star John Witherspoon) in 1997, and later with Damon Wayans on "My Wife & Kids" in 2002.
• In one of her stranger roles, Thea appeared as Mama Benjamin, the mother to wrestler Shelton Benjamin (left) with World Wrestling Entertainment. In a match for the WWE Intercontinental Championship, Thea's character intervenes and helps her son win by beating his opponent with an oxygen tank she carried around for her heart problems. To the right, you can see Mama Benjamin and Shelton celebrating with the title belt.
• Thea has also popped up on "The Drew Carey Show," "Law & Order: Criminal Intent," "Ugly Betty" (right) and even made it to the second round of the "Last Comic Standing."
Family and friends call Thea Vidale dramatic and different. She proudly owns those labels.
The 55-year-old was born in Washington, D.C., but said her years growing up were spent bringing laughter to her classmates in the halls of Victoria High School.
After graduation, the Stingaree buzzed around the world, sharing her gift of comedy.
"I'm so excited about performing," she said in a recent phone interview. "It makes me happy."
Vidale's hometown audience will have a chance to see her live at The Golden Gecko on Saturday night.
The actress/comedian will share the stage with Vance "V-Dogg" Bradford, who plans to discuss current events, relationships and life after 40.
Bradford, who is based in San Antonio, complimented Vidale's talent and can't wait to hear her material.
"I look forward to seeing what she brings to the table," he said.
Promoter Joey Sandoval said he is honored to have the People's Choice Award nominee entertain at his venue. He encourages the community to support her performance.
"She's one of Victoria's own, people should come see her," Sandoval said.
Vidale's cousin, Gary Ellis, will make his comedy debut. It will be like a family reunion.
Vidale's direct and clever humor earned her a spot in prime-time TV, with a self-titled sitcom in 1993. Vidale portrayed a single, widowed mother trying to raise four children. Although the show lasted one season, the actress earned a People's Choice nomination for Favorite Female in a New Series.
Her beloved character thrust Vidale into a national spotlight with appearances on "Ellen," "The Drew Carey Show," "My Wife and Kids," "Ugly Betty" and "WWE A.M. Raw."
She's also shared the same stage with funny men Tim Allen, Jeff Foxworthy and Sam Kinison.
Vidale broke barriers as the first black female to host the Adult Video News awards, which is considered the Oscars of the porn industry.
Vidale hasn't rested on her laurels with the long list of credits. She dreams of having her own Broadway show. Winning a Tony Award will be the icing on the comedienne's cake.
"I haven't stopped dreaming," she said.
Growing up in a military family, Vidale has a deep-rooted appreciation for the troops.
She has entertained for soldiers in Australia, Guam, Afghanistan, Japan, Korea, Canada and Kosovo.
She has also strolled through the palace of former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein.
Vidale's close ties to soldiers allows her to see their vulnerability.
"I saw a lot of brave young women that put themselves on the line," she said.
Although the war heroes faced the stresses of combat, the comedian brought smiles to their faces.
"They were so grateful, it was amazing," she said.
Vidale's openness allows fans to connect with her, she said. When she's on stage, she doesn't have secrets, she said.
But critics find her routine off-putting. She replied that it's only because she's a woman.
"I've said the same thing as Paul Mooney and Chris Rock, but they are afforded the luxury of saying it," she said.
She wants to help pave the way for other women who dare to get on the mic through the Females in Comedy Association.
Vidale said her Victoria show will be grown up and sexy. She's given a disclaimer to the faint at heart: "You can bring your kids but I might scare the hell out of them," she said jokingly.