Local talent looks to bring laughter to Shaler library

| Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013, 3:24 p.m.

A pastor, a funeral director and a widow walk into a library.

What sounds like the beginning of a joke is the lineup for the Shaler North Hills Library's Laugh Out Loud comedy night on Dec. 7 featuring three local comedians.

The Rev. Ingrid Kalchthaler, Frank Perman and Joanne Burroway will take the stage in the library's community room to entertain the audience with their stand-up routines for the event that raises money for the library's youth-services programming.

“The goal is to keep featuring our local talent and raise some visibility for the library and the comics, too,” said Sharon McRae, library director. “We're so lucky because we have such great people who work here and people who love the library. There is something for everybody here. This (the comedy event) is one additional piece that we offer.”

Shaler resident Kalchthaler, who also is the head of youth services at the library, started her stand-up comedy career after trying out for the Etna Talent Show. She enjoyed it enough that she then got involved in Gilda's Club Western Pennsylvania's annual benefit, “Laughing in the Face of Cancer,” and advanced to the finals.

Kalchthaler's love of comedy and recognition of the talent in the Pittsburgh area encouraged her to help organize the Laugh Out Loud event at the library, and she is excited to perform alongside other local comedians.

“I am humbled by the talent and generosity of these men and women,” Kalchthaler said. “Truly, Pittsburgh has the best comics out there — big-hearted and caring and incredibly funny. It is just incredible to me that these men and women would give of their time and talent for the library.”

Kalchthaler describes her comedy as “evolving, mildly amusing and semi-entertaining.”

The comics she has performed with, however, would say she just is being humble.

Burroway of Etna competed with Kalchthaler at the Gilda's Club fundraising event where they both made it to the finals. Burroway also performed with Perman, director of Perman Funeral Home, at the library's first Laugh Out Loud event.

“Even thought we have different lifestyles, we enjoy entertaining people, making them laugh and giving them something brighter to think about, and that's what it's all about,” Burroway said.

Burroway works on prescription conflicts as a clerk at CVS Caremark and uses comedy as her creative outlet.

“I don't get paid for it. I just like making people laugh and forget their troubles for a minute,” she said.

Burroway said comedy is “how I survive life death and somewhere in between.” She relied on it in 2005 when her husband died, and it got her through her mother's lengthy illness and death in 2009.

“You don't stop laughing because you grow old you, grow old because you stop laughing,” she said. “You have to see the humor in everyday things or it will drive you nuts.”

Perman of Shaler said he is honored to perform alongside Kalchthaler and Burroway again. Perman's first experience in stand-up comedy was during the library's first Laugh Out Loud event, and then he went on to perform for the Gilda's Club event.

“I've performed twice, I don't know that I'd call that a career,” Perman said. “Everything I've done has been fundraisers.”

While some of his routine includes funeral-industry jokes, most of Perman's humor comes from what he calls “some observations from the sidelines of life.”

While he has always had a string of wit, Perman said, the opportunity to help the library is what is really bringing him to the stage again in December.

“(The library) is such a neat resource in the community,” he said. “When you give your time, you know what you're doing is making a little bit of a difference, and I hope I'm making a little bit of a difference.”

Bethany Hofstetter is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6364 or bhofstetter@tribweb.com.

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