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To laugh is to live

Comedians Andre Paradise and Rissa Riss return to Ground Zero this weekend to present a night of comic takes on life's everyday foibles.

The show starts at 9 p.m. Friday, April 6, at the downtown club, 123 S. Front St., Medford.

Paradise grew up in the '70s in Kansas City, Kan. His mother recognized her son's inherent ability for comedy right away. The story goes that just a few months after his little brother was born, the family's minister asked Paradise what he thought of the baby.

"I don't like him," Paradise answered, "because all he does is eat, sleep and pee! We should just throw him away!"

Paradise moved to Oregon in 1985 and became a track and field and football athlete while attending school. When pro football didn't work out after his college graduation, he tackled stand-up comedy.

He made his first appearance on a national television show, "Apollo Comedy Hour," in 1994 and has since gone on to appear on episodes of shows such as "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," "The District" and HBO's "P-Diddy presents the Bad Boys of Comedy," among others.

Paradise has been called the "pretty boy of comedy" because of his good looks, but when he steps on the stage he is all jokes. His style is a cross between Lucille Ball and Richard Pryor, and he covers every subject without fear of pushing the envelope.

Riss will open the show for Paradise at Ground Zero.

Riss' calling as a comedienne also was recognized early on by her family.

She was raised in Portland, and is the youngest of three sisters. She quickly learned that her quick wit and her talent to make her parents laugh would keep her out of trouble.

Her first time on stage was at an open mic in her hometown. Later, she was taken under Paradise's wing and began opening for comedians such as Paula Bel, Spanky Hayes, Louis Katz, Daniel Dugard, Debbie Wooten and Ron Osborne, to name a few.

Riss is a comic on the rise, making appearances on television shows, including Bob Sumner's "Def Comedy Jam," and commercials. She finds humor in everyday life that turns her punch lines into "real life" jokes.

Admission to the show at Ground Zero costs $5 and includes a buffet dinner. Call 779-4827.

Jack Willhite and Rachel Parenta will hand out the comic relief on Friday and Saturday, April 6-7, at Chadwick's Pub.

The shows start at 9 p.m. in the pub at the Rogue Regency Inn, 2300 Biddle Road, Medford.

Willhite's show offers a fast-paced tour-de-force of costume changes, props and musical parodies that poke fun at rock stars and television sitcom performers. His act is described as "clever and unpredictable."

Willhite appears regularly in comedy clubs up and down the West Coast. He also works as a freelance writer, with credits on episodes of "Frasier" and "The Larry Sanders Show," and as an actor, with appearances on ABC's "Netforce" and Showtime's "Lines."

Parenta will open the shows for Willhite. Parenta is a native of New Jersey who now makes Portland her home.

She began her career in comedy in Portland when she placed third in the Portland Comedy Challenge in 2002.

Several months prior to the contest, Parenta had broken an ankle. She had to compete while standing with crutches. Her big "break" brought with it opportunities to perform at Harvey's Comedy Club in Portland, the Comedy Underground in Seattle and the Comedy Store in L.A.

Parenta offers her perspectives with an odd bent about subjects such as family, pop culture and dating. She also has been known to break out a guitar and serenade audiences with her original songs.

Admission to the shows at Chadwick's Pub costs $5. Call 282-2122.

Andre Paradise will perform Friday, April 6, at Ground Zero in Medford. - Comedy Comedy