Anne-Marie Martin, left, and Stacey Carpenter, a.k.a. The Wine Cork Girls, model garments that they sell – made of wine corks.

Cathie Anderson: Sacramento comedian puts spotlight on stand-up with Funny Fridays

Published: Saturday, Jun. 30, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 1B
Last Modified: Tuesday, Jul. 3, 2012 - 9:22 am

Sacramento's Daunte Burks makes breaking into the entertainment business look easy.

Burks has staged about a dozen monthly comedy shows, but he's already bringing in acts appearing on TV's most popular stand-up programs.

Comedy great Paul Mooney, also known as Richard Pryor's shadow partner and Homey D. Clown's creator, got his people to contact Burks about headlining one of his showcases. Mooney will close Daunte Burks' Funny Fridays show at 8 p.m. Friday at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel, 2001 Point West Way, in Sacramento. (Learn more at

Burks, 33, who owns a direct-mail company, the Evolution Marketing Group, created Funny Fridays as a way to find his groove in stand-up.

"A lot of comedians, when they start off, they either host a show or they run a room like I do," said Burks, whose first big headliner was Esau McGraw. "Esau's originally from Sacramento, and when he came to do the show, no one from Sacramento had brought him back to perform. He'd done movies and national plays and been on television. ...

"He really sent the word down to the comedians in L.A. ... I went from having Esau to Ray Lipowski to Courtney G."

Burks, a graduate of John F. Kennedy High School and California State University, Fresno, is self-funding his entertainment business. Not all the shows have turned a profit, Burks said, but he's in the black overall.

Courted by nightclubs in the Bay Area, Burks debuted his first monthly show in Oakland's Vitus in May and plans events for Rasselas Jazz Club in San Francisco starting in August.

Don't pull their corks

While tossing around ideas for a costume contest, Stacey Carpenter and Anne-Marie Martin hit upon an idea that brought 15 minutes of fame – and then some.

The two Citrus Heights residents created dresses made of wine corks. They not only won the contest but also stumbled into a business promoting wineries and selling merchandise they make with corks.

People have dubbed them the Wine Cork Girls,

"Those dresses are still talked about," Carpenter said. "People come up to us at the wineries, even when we're in plain clothes, and they recognize us, and they say, 'You guys made those dresses!' "

They now make halter tops, $65-$90; baskets, $40-$65; wreaths, $90-$110; and more.

The Wine Cork Girls will help to open the Viticulture Galleria, an event center at David Girard Vineyards, 741 Cold Springs Road in Placerville, from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday.

You may recall that Girard has worked for two years to get a permit from El Dorado County to hold additional events. He doesn't have it yet, but he does have the center – and The Wine Cork Girls.

When in Rome, or Hawaii

Some readers objected to the use of shaved ice rather than shave ice when I wrote about the ShiverSisters treats in El Dorado Hills.

"Maybe the proprietors should actually visit Hawaii!" wrote Tom Hixson of Elk Grove.

In fact, ShiverSisters co-owner Erin Whiteley fell in love with the ices in Hawaii: "I was at the shaved ice place like three times a day, clear across the island, so we came back and I was like, 'I think I'm addicted.' "

Americans on the mainland refer to such treats as shaved ice, however, not shave ice as is common in the Aloha State.

Although Whiteley and partner Geneva Soulier use the mainland phrase in marketing, they go the extra mile to duplicate Hawaii shave ice. They went through two vendors before finding Sacramento's American Ice Co. and deciding trips down the hill were worth the difference.

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