Sarduy to highlight the entertainment of the Banquet of Hope

Growing up, stand-up comedian Jose Sarduy initially aspired to become an astronaut.

But as he mentioned in his phone interview, “you have to fail in comedy”.

“Being an astronaut was my goal as a kid,” Sarduy said. “But I failed enough times as a kid that it didn’t look good.”

Safe to say, everything worked out well for the Cuban-born comedian.

Sarduy will return to the Permian Basin on Saturday at the Catholic Charities of Odessa’s annual Banquet of Hope fundraiser.

The event will take place at 7pm at the Odessa Marriott Hotel and Conference Center in the Permian Ballroom.

This year’s Banquet of Hope will return to an in-person setting for the first time since 2019 before the pandemic.

“I, the staff, the board, are all super excited,” said Sara Aguilar, Executive Director of Odessa’s Catholic Charities. “We were very lucky to have our own fundraiser that year. We are thrilled to have this on the way. “

It will also be the first time the fundraiser will consist of a stand-up comedy in which Aguilar says it will be family-friendly.

“Before, it was just a banquet with a showcase of the programs and then a dinner,” Aguilar said. “This is the first time we’ve added entertainment to our event.”

Born in Cuba, Sarduy had a roller coaster life growing up.

He, along with his family, was deported from Cuba in 1980 due to his father’s status as a political prisoner.

Sarduy’s father served six years in prison in Cuba for writing a letter in disagreement with the regime and the policies of the then Cuban dictator Fidel Castro.

“When it came out, I was born shortly after,” Sarduy said. “He was unable to find a job and my mother was fired. Eventually my family was blacklisted for everything. “

His family was eventually forced to leave Cuba and came to the United States during the Mariel Boatlift in 1980.

After graduating from high school, Sarduy was accepted into the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado.

Being a trainer pilot in the Air Force, Sarduy has made numerous flights to Del Rio, Odessa and Midland.

“I’ve lived in Texas before, being stationed there, so it always has a special place in my heart,” Sarduy said. “Odessa is a blue-collar community. I’ve always liked the audience there. It’s great to come back and see how the city has grown since last time I was there in 2017 or 2018. During the pandemic, we made a lot of trips to Midland to train as I was on duty for a long time so it will be great to leave the airport in Midland and going to Odessa, especially since I have done a lot in Midland. Now I can fill my Odessa tank.

Despite being a retired Air Force veteran, Sarduy still trains pilots at Del Rio as a reserve in addition to his stand-up career.

After being accepted into the US Air Force Academy, Sarduy’s goal was to become a mission pilot in the space shuttle program in the early 2000s.

But those plans were trampled upon after NASA announced the shuttle program was halted.

“This meant that if I wanted to be an astronaut, I would have to compete academically with the other astronauts,” Sarduy said.

Sarduy would still become an Air Force officer, serving in Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom in the early 2000s, piloting cargo planes.

“It was a fun experience, but I didn’t have a gun on my plane, which is scary,” Sarduy said. “In that situation, it would be nice to have one.”

Although he enjoyed the military, he didn’t want to be part of it full time.

“I was a little lost,” Sarduy said. “My childhood passion was dying a little. I had a good life. I was an Air Force pilot and had a good organized life, but the passion was gone. “

His other childhood passion has arrived, comedy.

“I grew up loving him,” Sarduy said. “The power of comedy impressed me. The funniest teachers have always been the most effective and humor can be used to ease the tension and help you get through tough times. “

He didn’t initially think he would be acting in cabaret, however, as he doubted whether or not he could make a room full of people laugh.

“I liked to stand up,” Sarduy said. “But I wasn’t very funny. I was a joke teller. So I’ve never seen myself as a joke teller.

Then, in 2003, during a trip to Urbana-Champaign, Illinois, something clicked for him.

Sarduy was with his girlfriend and friends and started telling stories about himself.

“Maybe it was the right amount of beer, but they wanted to know more about me and my life,” Sarduy said. “It’s been about 10 minutes where it was just me talking and everyone was laughing hard. One of the women fell off the chair and another shot him a beer in the nose. I don’t remember what I said. It was then that I started thinking about being a stand-up comedian and I realized what he needed.

Over the years, Sarduy has worked his way up, eventually making an open mic at the New York Comedy Club.

“I got a legitimate chuckle from the hardened comedians who were just there,” Sarduy said. “I was in. It’s been an interesting ride since then.”

Since 2007, Sarduy has been doing cabaret full-time, traveling around the country doing various shows.

Talk to the audience about her life experiences, including the daily fun moments of growing up with her family.

Just like Aguilar, Sarduy insists next week’s entertainment will be family-friendly.

“It’s a charity event, so they’re going to have my clean comedy,” Sarduy said. “I know some people in the area who have seen me before are probably thinking this might not be appropriate for a charity, but I’m telling people I’ve been doing comedies for a long time. I can make a clean comedy. I have a couple of comic specials under my belt. People can relax. It will be a fun show. These are jokes about my life and all, but you can bring the kids. “

This year, the Catholic Charities of Odessa celebrates its 40th anniversary of helping the community.

“It is important for us to be able to be here and serve everyone in Ector County,” Aguilar said. “This has been a staple fundraiser over the years, so it just continues with the tradition.”

When the Odessa Catholic Charities opened in 1982, it was originally an adoption agency.

“They ran it for three years,” Aguilar said. “Several children were adopted through Catholic Charities during those three years.”

Soon after, the organization switched to social services, providing emergency food and clothing services in the community.

“This is what they have grown into ever since,” Aguilar said. “I know our learning center is very busy. We see on average around 450 students each year successfully completing courses through the learning center, so we are very busy. The agency continues to grow “.

The work has not stopped, mainly due to the pandemic and high inflation affecting a number of people with families in need of help.

“During COVID, we were hit really hard,” Aguilar said. “We have never closed the doors to the community and our numbers have skyrocketed. We were seeing triple, if not quadruple, the numbers for emergency services, especially the food pantry. There were many people out of work “.

Those numbers are starting to rise again due to inflation, Aguilar said.

“This fundraiser has come at a pivotal time as we need community help to continue serving those in need.”

For more information on Odessa’s Catholic charities, visit tinyurl.com/yc7wdza6.

Tickets for the Banquet of Hope can be purchased at tinyurl.com/yckjcybn.

If you go

  • What: The Banquet of Hope of the Catholic Charities of Odessa.
  • When: 19:00 11 June.
  • Where is it: Odessa Marriott Hotel and Convention Center.
  • Where to buy tickets: tinyurl.com/yckjcybn

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