PORT ANGELES — We could use a good laugh right about now.
And we need some good buoying, of the spirits and bank account.
So went the train of thought behind the change in the Fall Fundraiser for the Juan de Fuca Festival of the Arts.
The party Saturday at the Elks Naval Lodge has its traditional auction — featuring a stay at The Fairmont Empress hotel in Victoria and a trip to Seattle to see the University of Washington Huskies-University of Oregon Ducks game — but festival executive director Dan Maguire booked a different kind of entertainment this year.
Instead of the bands featured at past fall balls, Paul Myrehaug, the Canadian Laugh-Off champion from Vancouver, B.C., will deliver a stand-up comedy set before acting as auctioneer.
The live auction will follow dinner and a silent auction Saturday night at the Elks ballroom, 131 E. First St.; the evening will start with doors opening at 5:30 p.m., dinner at 6 p.m. and show time at 6:45.
Tickets are $60 per person or $400 for a table for eight, and must be purchased by this Tuesday at Port Book & News, 104 E. First St., or via the Juan de Fuca Festival office at 360-457-5411.
Myrehaug, whose credits include second place in the Seattle International Comedy Competition and trips to Kosovo, Kuwait and Iraq to entertain North American troops, is poised to tackle his first auction in Port Angeles.
The 29-year-old comic will find some unusual material among the items up for bid.
There’s the Arlo Tool Kit, which includes a pair of tickets to Arlo Guthrie’s April 15, 2012, concert in Port Angeles, plus brownie mix, a hippie hat, incense and pastries.
Sarah Tucker, a local artist and filmmaker, has contributed a handmade piñata with strings the purchaser pulls to reveal the treasures within.
The Oven Spoonful is proffering a cooking class and dinner for up to 10 people.
Myrehaug will also auction off two nights at the Hotel Grand Pacific in Victoria, a trip to Seattle for the Nov. 5 Huskies-Ducks game with lodging at the Arctic Club and a two-night stay for four at Leavenworth’s Brighton Chalet.
The most luxurious auction item in Juan de Fuca Festival history comes early in the proceedings: a night in the $3,500 Monarch Suite at the Hotel Andra in Seattle.
And the final package combines stays at the Marriott Inner Harbour and the Chateau Victoria, two four-star hotels just across the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
The auction and festivities in Saturday’s Fall Fundraiser are crucial to the Juan de Fuca Festival’s future, Maguire said.
They generate support for the Memorial Day weekend festival and concerts during the rest of the year, and bring internationally known performing artists to local schools.
Featuring a comedian instead of a band at this party is “a change of pace,” Maguire said. “It tightens up the event.”
The Dessert Dash, an auction of sweets, will be back this year. This fall-ball tradition will range from Bella Italia’s tiramisu and Alder Wood Bistro’s chocolate bliss brownie to Maguire’s homemade banana cream pie.
Maguire added that he’s been trying to bring Myrehaug to town since last October, when he saw the comedian’s set at the Northwest Booking Conference in Bellevue.
“He was really great. We tried to get him for the festival,” Maguire said, adding that he hopes to add more stand-up comedy to the Juan de Fuca weekend in May.
Of the life of a full-time stand-up comic — Myrehaug’s been living it since he was just 22 — “I absolutely love it. I wouldn’t change it for anything in the world.”
Saturday night, he promised to dish out comedy of the truth-is-funnier-than fiction variety.
“I’m not afraid,” Myrehaug said, to tell true stories — as long as they’re truly hilarious.
________Features Editor Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3550 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.