Customers got a few laughs and helped a worthy cause Friday night at The Catch restaurant and lounge in Soldotna during “Comedy at The Catch.”
Comedians took to the stage to raise money for the Central Peninsula Special Olympics nonprofit, an organization that aids athletes with physical and mental disabilities.
Mat Plant of Power Plant Productions hosted the event, adding another successful endeavor to his eight-year-old company. Friday night’s entertainment was the fifth comedy show that Power Plant Productions has hosted, with the first one in Anchorage and others taking place in Homer, Wasilla and Soldotna. Plant said Friday’s show raised more than $500 for the Central Peninsula Special Olympics.
Plant has previously put on shows and fundraising events that cater to the pro wrestling crowd, including “The Fight Before Christmas,” a popular holiday event that has featured wrestling, boxing, MMA and WWE matches. Plant has put on the shows for three years running, and said his wrestling-themed shows won’t be ending any time soon.
But now the businessman is branching out to other forms of entertainment, with comedy and dancing on the list. Plant was one of the four stand-up comedians who performed Friday night, and said his love for comedy can be traced to his childhood.
“My act is based on my very overprotective mother,” he said. “I told her I was going to get on stage (and) tell everyone how overprotective she is. I love her … (so) last January in Homer, I did a 20-minute skit on stage and loved it.”
Plant said his performance inspired the idea to gather as much local comedic talent and to use his company to put on shows. That’s how he found Fred Koski, John LaPlante and Nikki Stein, all of whom graced the stage at The Catch.
Special Olympics organizer Tina Strayhorn said the program has worked with Power Plant Productions before and the two groups have stayed in touch. Strayhorn said the costs of equipment, transportation and training for the Special Olympics athletes quickly pile up, so any proceeds brought in from local fundraisers are welcome.
Plus, it makes for a fun time for all.
“This helps keep us in mind and in the community,” Strayhorn said. “We’ve had a good turnout, and what’s great about this is that it’s family-oriented. The athletes can bring their families out, it gives them something to do and be a part of.”
One of the comics performing Friday was Koski, who said Plant’s expanding business and gumption to host entertainment on the central peninsula is what drew him in. The fundraising for Central Peninsula Special Olympics was like icing on the cake.
“I like what Mat has brought to the community,” Koski said. “A lot of people here complain that there’s nothing to do, but when you have a guy that puts together things like this, there’s plenty to do … and these fundraising shows are fun while using our talents to do some good.”
The Catch occupies the space that was formerly owned by Hooligan’s. While The Catch hasn’t had a formal opening yet, co-owner Nika Davidhizar said she and husband Vern are planning a grand opening in the coming weeks. The Catch opened for business in July to cater to the fishing crowd, and Davidhizar said she expects to regularly host music, comedy and art events.
“I want to explore the local talent, so we need to bring in local talent,” Davidhizar said. “Especially during the tourist season, we have to bring it out, and to keep life entertaining with comedy and music. I want this to be a place for people.”
Plant said he plans to host more comedy shows, with the next one tentatively scheduled for a January or February date at the Alyeska Resort in Girdwood. He also said to expect a 1950s-themed dance night Oct. 18 at Alice’s Champagne Palace in Homer.