When Walt Willey hits the stage at the Off the Hook Comedy Club people won’t be seeing Jackson Montgomery, his character on All My Children.
He’ll perform two shows on May 18, at Capt. Brien’s Seafood and Raw Bar, home of the comedy club.
The performances are the finale of the 10th annual Southwest Florida Soapfest.
The first is a dinner show at 6:30 p.m., with tickets $45 each, followed by an 8:30 p.m. show, with tickets at $25 each. A portion of the proceeds will go to a Soapfest charity, Eden Florida’s newly-opened outreach and educational services for children with autism.
“This will be a major weekend for us as we have nationally-known comedian Bruce Bruce performing two shows a night, leading up to Walt Willey,” said Brian Spina, owner of Capt. Brien’s.
Bruce Bruce, compared to comedian-film star Eddie Murphy, performs on Thursday, Friday and Saturday night.
Willey saw a show at the comedy club last year when he was here for the Soapfest fundraiser.
“I enjoyed the show and liked the venue,” he said. “I was hoping to get a chance to perform.”
Willey has performed his “adults only” show at Zainies, The Comedy Store, Caroline’s and Catch a Rising Star.
“The fans will get a chance to see him perform and be with him as he signs autographs and chats with his fans,” Spina said.
Willey will be performing double duty as he opens up the Soapfest by hosting a Night of Stars at the San Marco Catholic Church Parish Hall at 6 p.m. May 17.
“I have hosted a number of events, mostly because I have a hard time sitting and watching,” Willey joked as he talked about how he became the host for the night, featuring more than 25 soap opera stars.
Willey has been a star in All My Children since 1987, a short time after losing his role with Ryan’s Hope.
“I was very fortunate that Megan McTavish had seen my work and wrote the Jackson Montgomery role specifically for me at All My Children,” he said. “I was majorly surprised when I learned she had. My agent told me there would be no audition and that I was to start in six weeks.”
A major fixture in Pine Valley, Willey says he has never taken All My Children for granted.
“I go in there every day trying to save my job,” he said.
There is a grind to the business, working 48 weeks a year, with long hours, doing 260 shows a year. However Willey is not complaining.
“I love what I do,” he says. “I hope the only way they take me out of Pine Valley is if I am in a pine box. I wouldn’t mind doing this until I die.”
Willey began doing his comedy routine in 1991.
“I was doing the usual center court personal appearances in malls, even though I was the hottest thing going in day time television,” he said with a laugh. “I wanted to do more than having people stand in line for hours for me to scroll my name on a photo. I wanted to do something more articulate.”
Willey said he mentioned his comedy routine during an interview with Regis Philbin and Kathy Lee Gifford.
“They were talking about what might happen if Susan Lucci (Erika Kane) dropped me (on All My Children),” he said. “I mentioned that if it happened I could go back to my stand-up comedy. I just thought I’d fly it up the flag and see if anyone saluted.”
He said his most pleasing performance was in front of actor Christopher Walkin.
“‘Oh God let me be funny,’ I said to myself before going on,” he said. “Thankfully he was in stitches and we’ve been friends since.”
A Night of Stars, hosted by Marco Island’s Bill and Karen Young, begins at 6 p.m.
Willey will introduce fellow All My Children soapmates Jacob Young (J.R. Chandler) and Billy Miller (Richie Novak).
Joining them from Guiding Light are Paulo Benedetti (ex-Jessie Blue), Robert Bogue (A.C. Mallet), Mandy Bruno (Marina Cooper), Jordan Clarke (Billy Lewis), Bonnie Dennison (Daisy Lemay), John Driscoll (Coop Cooper), Michael O’Leary (Dr. Rick Bauer), Marcy Ryan (Lizzie Spaulding), Caitlin Van Zandt (Ashlee Wolf) and Jeff Branson ( ex-Jonathan Lavery).
From As the World Turns are Tala Ashe (Ameera Ali Aziz), Dylan Bruce (Chris Hughes), Justine Cotsonas (Sofie Duran), Ewa da Cruz (Vienna Hyatt), Trent Dawson (Henry Coleman), Van Hansis (Luke Snyder), Mick Hazen (Parker Snyder), Billy Magnussen (Casey Hughes), Daniel Manche (JJ Snyder), Eric William Morris (Matt O’Connor), Marnie Schulenberg (Allison Stewart) and Jake Silberman (Noah).
Joining them from One Life to Live is Trevor St. John (Todd Manning).
Opening night continues with the 4th annual Celebrity Bartenders Bash at Vandy’s and 5 Brothers Pizza and Sports Bar, beginning around 9:30 p.m. Celebs will share pouring drinks and singing karaoke style. Tickets are $40 each, reduced to $25 for those who attend A Night of Stars.
On Sunday, noon to 3 p.m., there will be Cruisin’, Boozin’ & Schmoozin’ aboard the Marco Island Princess. Fans get to mingle with the stars, get autographs and take photos. Tickets are $75 each and include a buffet and entertainment.
Golf with a favorite celeb is also an option. Space is limited and only serious golfers are requested.
At various times there will be auctions for original artwork by actors, actual soap studio tours, ticket packages to the TV Emmys and lunch with a favorite star.
For Willey’s performance call Capt. Brien’s at 389-6900, or go online at OfftheHookComedy.com.
For all Soapfest events, including various ticket packages, call 394-4559 or go to www.soapfest.com. Ticket sales are final and not refundable.