Kenny Z’s Last Stand
w/ Kenny Z and special guests
Thurs. April 20, 8 p.m.
280 Meeting St., 853-6687
Last month, 96 Wave expelled the Storm & Kenny morning show team — starring Storm Zbel and Kenny “Kenny Z” Zimlinghaus — after two and-a-half years spent developing and refining their morning show on the air (for more on that continuing story see page 52). There was no explanation or fanfare. The station carried on as if they’d never existed. Morning show listeners were confused, angered, and shocked. Many wrote and called the station. Few received a response. Others logged on to Storm & Kenny’s MySpace page (www.myspace.com/stormandkenny) and posted comments — many of which were complimentary and offered support and encouragement to the two, while some directed angry sentiments at the station.
Through it all, both hosts maintained their distance and cool, only eventually posting a brief message to their fans on their web page — including a few paragraphs stating “their side of the story” in reaction to the station’s claim that they were booted due to their low ratings.
While some of the dust has settled, plenty of questions still go unanswered — but perhaps not for long. On Thursday evening, Kenny Z, a talented local comedian in his own right, presents an evening of stand-up comedy and commentary at Theatre 99 (above The Bicycle Shoppe at 280 Meeting St.) with “Kenny Z’s Last Stand.” While the routine isn’t officially aimed at the events he and Storm endured over the last few weeks, it will most definitely shed a few rays of light on the controversy.
Zimlinghaus has earned a reputation as a quick-witted, smart-alecky natural on the microphone with a sharp sense of timing and observation. He’s made regular appearances at the local stand-up comedy series Liquid Courage (at Lite Affair), and hosted his own events in a series called “Comedy-Free with Kenny Z” at several local rock clubs and bars. The events benefited local charities and showcased some of the wilder, more daring local and regional comedic talent in front of large audiences.
“We really prided ourselves on sounding like Charleston,” says Kenny Z of the morning show he and Storm hosted with “Stupid” Mike Fili, and Heather “Traffic Fairy” Daniels. “I feel bad that there’s not going to be anything like that here now. It really was something special. Our high point was during the beginning of this year. We had developed a strong following. In January, February, and March, we had some of the best radio we’d ever done.”
The confirmed lineup for “Kenny Z’s Last Stand” includes some familiar faces from the downtown comedy scene: Have Nots! regular Caleb Usry, Bill Davis (who happens to a City Paper writer and editor), Jessica Chase (who happens to be City Paper’s “The Chase is On” columnist and the co-host of the morning radio show on 98X), Dusty Slay, Jason Cooper, Dave Ugly, and others.
“We’re all celebrating,” says Z. “No one’s really bitter. However, being a comic, there are a couple of topics I’d be stupid not to point out. For example, Apex had talked to a bar where I was going to hold this event, and they proposed that everyone sign waivers that the material would not be based on the company. Well, obviously, I wasn’t going to do every joke about them, but now that they said that I’m like, jeez! So I went home and wrote some new stuff about Apex.”
While it’s unlikely that Stupid Mike and Traffic Fairy will step on stage as part of the performance, Z’s co-host Storm Zbel will officially be a part of the show.
“I think this is going to be a good forum for everything,” says Z. “It will be celebratory and everyone will have a good time, but people will definitely comment on what’s been happening. It’s going to be our audience, so it will be good. Drink, laugh … I promise you, I and the other comics will be completely raw and uncensored.”