Louie Anderson is apparently saving his funny Joe Minjares story for the Nov. 25 comedy benefit to raise money for Minjares’ medical expenses. An actor, comedian and owner of Pepito’s restaurant, Minjares recently got a lung transplant because his pulmonary fibrosis had became more debilitating.
Comedians Joel Hodgson, Mary Jo Pehl, Alex Jackson, Tom Baumgartner and Kristin Andersen-Anderson are performing at a $20-a-ticket fundraiser next door to Pepitos at Parkway Theater, which Minjares also owns. Anderson is scheduled to appear via video because he is busy shooting the FX show “Baskets,” for which he won an Emmy in 2016.
The first show was sold out, and a second has been added at 10:30 p.m. “People can donate to his GoFundMe page,” said the fundraiser’s PR guy, Martin Keller. The goal is $50,000 and so far $36,000 has been raised.
“Joe has been very humbled by this whole experience with his health and the overall support he had gotten from the community,” Keller said.
I asked Keller to coordinate the collection of funny, printable stories about Minjares from some comics. They provided a mixed bag, some funny, some touching like Louie Anderson’s:
“Two of the most difficult businesses to run are restaurants and comedy clubs, and Joe Minjares has been doing both for a long time with Pepitos and the Parkway Theater. Of course, you know how much I love comedy and food, food my biggest nemesis. But God, I loved those chips and queso Pepitos served. I had been eating there even before I went into comedy, and I always liked the place because of its family atmosphere.”
The Parkway also has a special place in my heart because I saw lots of great films, like John Cassavetes’ movies. I moved to L.A. from Minneapolis to follow my dream, and when I heard that Joe went into comedy, it made me smile that a guy who could make cheese that good was going to do comedy, too. It sounded like a good combination. Joe and I have had some good chats over the years about being funny, family, food — all the F-words. I’m sad that he’s sick but hopeful of his recovery.”
Q: Tell me a funny story about Joe Minjares, Alex Jackson?
A: Years ago we did a show at the Mandarin Yen restaurant, which was in Bloomington. Joe Minjares and Joe Keys had created two characters they called: “Those Vegas Guys.”
They came onstage with their hair slicked back, blue polyester blazers, tuxedo shirts that were open, and black sunglasses, and told stock jokes. During the first show that they did, the room was silent for the entire act. Afterward Joe came to me, as I was the emcee, and was trying to figure out what went wrong. I was laughing hysterically because the audience actually believed that they were two hack acts from Vegas.
Q: Tom Baumgartner, what’cha got?
A: Joe is a bright guy with charisma. You pick up on it the first time you meet him. In L.A. most unknown actors show up at an audition driving an old beater. Joe drove up in his black Cadillac! Actors wait till they’re famous to start a restaurant. Joe already had a restaurant! Many actors think they can write. Joe was already a published writer. He’s usually the smartest guy in the room. Except when I’m there. Then you can take out “usually.”
Q: What are some of your favorite “Joe Jokes,” Kristin Andersen-Anderson?
A: I met Joe while we were both doing stand-up at Dudley Riggs in the ’80s. He was so funny. Perfect timing. I remember his material like it was yesterday. Joe on aging: You know those lines on your face when you wake up? Now, they don’t go away until after lunch. … When people come over and the place is a wreck: Kick the pizza boxes out of the way and tell them you’re remodeling. … What do you call a disco opened by your half-Mexican and half-Jewish, uncle? Let My People A Go Go.
In recent years, when Joe would emcee a show I was doing at the Parkway, I’d beg him to go to the vault so I could hear him tell those jokes again. Decades later, I’m still laughing. My hat is in the ring to open for Joe on his comeback tour.
C.J. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and seen on FOX 9’s “Buzz.”