Mesa comedian hosting benefit for Boys and Girls Clubs
April 4, 2019
By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski
Comedian Paul Arnold once used his craft as a way to support himself. Now he has a different ambition: Raise money for organizations that support kids.
The Northeast Mesa resident is scheduling a series of fundraisers at the Apache Greyhound Park. From 7 to 10 p.m. Friday, April 19, he and his comedic friends’ performances will benefit the Boys and Girls Clubs of Mesa and Apache Junction.
“The Boys and Girls Clubs is a nonprofit and receives no government assistance,” said Arnold, who formerly worked as a server at Red, White and Brew. “I decided to do a show where $5 from every ticket goes toward the Boys and Girls Clubs of Mesa and Apache Junction.”
For Arnold, it’s personal.
“I grew up in Boys and Girls Clubs in the (San Francisco) Bay Area,” he said. “Being black in a white town, they weren’t giving me the opportunities they were giving the kids next to me. The Boys and Girls Clubs helped me get better with football and basketball and allowed me to move on to college hoops and football.
“Parents drop off their kids at the club, but nobody helps the clubs.”
Arnold is a well-known figure in Northeast Mesa. At Red, White & Brew he preserved his sanity by slapping hands with coworkers and saving secret handshakes for customers.
“There are a lot of things going on in life nowadays,” Arnold said. “I was always taught if you’re laughing, you don’t have time to think about the negativity. Everybody needs that.”
Arnold has had a storied life. When he was a youngster, Arnold and his family moved from St. Louis to Oakland, California, where his home had a basement.
“My mom kept her records down there: the 78s, the 45s,” he recalled. “I went down to the basement as a kid and started fumbling through things. I saw Redd Foxx, Flip Wilson and Moms Mabley recordings.
“My mom had a loose tongue, too, and she rocked it. She’d drink her Johnny Walker Red and all hell broke loose.”
It’s easy to see that Arnold’s mom meant a lot to him.
“She’s the one who really inspired me to do what I wanted to do,” he said.
When Arnold’s mother died, Arnold, a single father, packed up his kids and moved to Mesa. He wanted to spare his children of California’s crime. While here, he has performed at Rick Bronson’s House of Comedy on High Street in North Phoenix and Tempe Improv.
“Anyone can tell a joke,” Arnold said. “But can you sit there and tell a story and get the crowd going? I want the crowd to visualize what I’m saying. I might trigger something that’s familiar, and that’s hella funny.”
Arnold said he’s been blessed throughout his life, no matter how rough it has been. He wants to show his son not to be selfish.
“You do things because you love it and it’s in your heart,” Arnold added. “It’s not because you’re forced to do things, either. Don’t be conditional.”
Arnold admitted he’s trying to step away from the spotlight and, instead, act as an organizer.
“I just want to host the shows, promote the shows and do more things for the community,” he said. “The dog track, it’s empty. It’s empty space. I’m hoping to turn that around, too.”