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‘Lettuce Laugh’ standup comedy series opens at the Farmer’s Table in Boca

It may not be the first place you think of for standup, but the Farmer’s Table in Boca Raton is launching a new, bi-monthly comedy series called “Lettuce Laugh.”
The series starts Friday, July 14 with headliner and former Boca resident Mike Vecchione and will be hosted by local comedian Jen Hellman. The roster also includes guest comedians Chris Silio and Devon Fox.
Owners Mitchell Robbins (hotelier) and Joey Giannuzzi (chef) say the idea for the series is pretty simple: “Mitchell and I … want to be a positive impact on the community,” Gianuzzi says. “And what is more positive than making people laugh? I’ve known Jen Hellman forever and she said, ‘There’s no comedy between Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. And Boca is right smack dab in the middle.’ And we have this beautiful room, so why not?”
To open the series, Hellman recruited a hometown boy as the main act. Vecchione has had his own TV special on Comedy Central, has appeared on NBC’s “The Tonight Show” and was a semi-finalist on “Last Comic Standing.” He was born in Ohio, but his family moved in 1981 to Boca Raton. He graduated from Boca Raton Community High School in 1991.
In a phone call from his New York home, Vecchione says he doesn’t plan on pitching his act toward South Florida themes and memes, but he also admits the region is ripe for comedy.
“I usually take in the atmosphere there, so maybe I’ll do some improvisation in there,” he says. “You never know. I’ve never been [to Farmer’s Table], so I don’t know. But I’m good at figuring out what the feel is for the room. Usually. There’s lunacy in the moment. Making fun of what is happening there in Florida, you can always bring that into it.”
Aside from the ocean, one of the strongest impressions South Florida had on Vecchione was high school. “The beach was super cool. Everyone would go to the beach on the weekend and hang out,” he says. “I played sports, so that took up a lot of my time. I played football and wrestled. I had such a great high-school experience. I know a lot of people, a lot of comedians didn’t, but I [have] such good memories of high school. We had such a great class that I graduated with. The year behind me and the year ahead of me, all just great people. Everyone. I just graduated with a group of great, great people.”
Comedy didn’t enter the picture until after he had earned his master’s degree in Pennsylvania.
“I was bored,” he recalls. “I had moved to Philly with a girl, and we broke up. I had started going to open mikes. My first time [onstage] was at the Laff House in South Philly. It took a year. I was bombing a lot. I wasn’t getting a lot of laughs. But I stuck to it. I just kept thinking that ‘This will help me in some way, maybe public speaking, whatever.’ Until about three years in, that’s when I started getting consistent laughs.”
Friends thought he was ready to get serious about comedy and urged him to move to New York, which he did in 2003. He eventually appeared on shows such as “Russell Simmons Presents: Stand-Up at the El Rey,” “Comedy Underground With Dave Attell,” “Conan” and “Inside Amy Schumer.”
But his family is still a tough audience.
“My mom, she goes to church every weekend,” Vecchione says. “We’re Italian Catholic. The Jesus thing, she doesn’t think the Jesus jokes are very funny.”
Giannuzzi says that he asked Hellman to make the series, “in the format of a family type of show, and on the other side I would take care of the bar and the menu, which is geared to our philosophy on food.”
The special menu for the comedy show includes:
Chicken meatball sliders with Yukon Gold steak fries, $14
Vegan spinach-and-artichoke dip with baked, GMO-free corn chips, $12
Oven-roasted Springer Mountain chicken wings with guava glaze and tzatziki, $13
Hummus crudite with toasted pita, flatbread crackers and veggies, $12
Shaved turkey and apple wrap with arugula, brie, sunflower sprouts, dijon aioli and a whole-wheat wrap, $14
Not Your Typical Cheesesteak with sliced Gruyere, carmelized onions and peppers, toasted-herb baguette and baked Yukon Gold steak fries, $17
Not-Yo Nachos with baked, GMO-free corn chips, pico de gallo, vegan chili, guacamole, crispy chickpeas, vegan mozzarrella, vegan sour cream, $14
“We started all of this probably about six weeks ago,” Giannuzzi says. We move quick.”
“Lettuce Laugh” will begin 8 p.m. Friday, July 14, in the Oak Room at the Farmer’s Table, 1901 N. Military Trail, in Boca Raton. Tickets cost $15. To order, go to Eventbrite.com(enter “Lettuce Laugh” in the search field).

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