April 19, 2024
Ato Walker and Mighty Mike McGee deliver a love letter to the city with their weekly live talk show.

In a world filled with people glued to their phones and their podcasts, you’ve got to applaud Ato Walker and Mighty Mike McGee for breathing new life into a classic format with “Off Nite,” a live variety talk show the pair hosts every Monday night at Tabard Theatre in downtown San Jose.

Walker, a comedian who emcees the San Jose Improv’s open mic night, and McGee, a former Santa Clara County poet laureate, have great chemistry together and an obvious affinity for San Jose and its surrounding communities. They’re the only show that’s “regionally appreciative” of one specific area and proudly so, Walker says.

“We do love the South Bay,” McGee said. “So that’s the whole purpose of Off Nite — to showcase the amazing skills, the amazing talent, the amazing community that’s fostered here throughout the South Bay Area.”

Ato Walker and Mighty Mike McGee talk to comedian Sally Jackson at “Off Nite,” a live weekly talk show they host at Tabard Theatre in downtown San Jose, on Monday, Aug. 14, 2023. (Sal Pizarro/Bay Area News Group) 

Last Monday, the lineup included Taylor Ashley, owner of WellCraft Events; Sally Jackson, an acting teacher and casting director who is also a hilarious — and very salty — comedian; the band Estranged Individuals, a trio that won the Battle of the Bands at the Milpitas Library last month; and event promoter Fil Maresca, who rattled off “Fil’s Five Free,” a rundown of fun, free events happening in San Jose. The duo Drunk Monk serves as the house band.

The 90-ish-minute show is livestreamed on YouTube, Vimeo and Facebook, but it’s a much better experience to watch it live at Tabard. Admission is free, and beers and well drinks are sold at a discount. Doors open at 7:30 p.m., and the show starts at 8.

“Our live audience is the most important thing for us,” McGee said. “To have people come in the venue and cheer for the folks who come up on this stage.”

AIRPORT ADVENTURE: To celebrate National Aviation Week, which started Aug. 19, San Jose Mineta International Airport is hosting a scavenger hunt in its terminals through Labor Day, Sept. 4 (which is a lot longer than a week, but who’s counting?). You don’t have to worry about collecting a bunch of junk, either, as it’s all being done through QR codes that you can find with your phone.

There are five QR codes scattered around Terminal A and five more in Terminal B, and there’s a code located outside the security gates in each terminal for those who aren’t flying in or out. Clues to the locations can be found on SJC’s website, www.flysanjose.com/aviation, and for each one you find you get an entry in a contest to win an airport prize pack.

And the prizes are a lot better than a bag of Southwest pretzels: The grand prize, valued at $500, includes a three-day parking voucher, two certificates for The Club SJC, a coffee gift card and SJC swag. There’s also prizes valued at $250 and $100.

By the way, Aug. 19 was designated as National Aviation Day way back in 1939 by Franklin Delano Roosevelt to celebrate the birthday of Orville Wright, who is credited with the first powered flight. Why just Orville and not his equally famous brother Wilbur Wright as well? It might have been because Orville was still alive when the honor was bestowed, while Wilbur died in 1912 of typhoid fever.

From left, Laura Henderson, Mike Falarski, Davin Ing and Mike Drennan pose for a photo at a reunion of the original team from the Tech Museum of Innovation, held Aug. 5, 2023 at Henderson’s home in San Jose’s Japantown neighborhood. (Photo courtesy of Laura Henderson) 

BACK TO THE FUTURE: A couple of weekends ago, Laura Henderson hosted a reunion at her Japantown home for the original team from the Tech — both from when it was originally known as the Tech Museum of Innovation and even before that when it was just called “The Garage.” The dozens of guests included original Tech President Peter Giles, VP of development Dick King, marketing VP Gloria Chun-Hoo and VP of business operations (and IMAX manager) Wes Weinhardt. Henderson, now a nonprofit consultant, was the senior director of corporate development for the Tech back in the day.

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You’ve got to think the Tech Interactive, as its now known, probably has something of its own in the works, too, as the 25th anniversary of the opening of the downtown San Jose science center is coming up Oct. 31. If not, Laura Henderson probably has some ideas.

SWEET GESTURE: Ebe Frasse wanted to do something special for the donors she’s called upon to support Valle Monte League’s programs and events for the past 30 years: Sharks Ice, Dan Gordon of Gordon Biersch Brewing, Peter’s Bakery, Ted Burket at Shadowbrook restaurant in Capitola and Bob Munsey at the Crow’s Nest in Santa Cruz. She gifted each with 30-piece boxes of scotchmallows from See’s Candy. She made the last delivery to Peter’s Bakery on Alum Rock Road in San Jose on Wednesday.

HISTORY CORNER: Sarah Winchester’s most famous home is now a San Jose landmark, but she lived in several other homes throughout her life. Those homes will be the 2 p.m. focus of a talk Aug. 20 by Winchester Mystery House historian Janan Boehme in the latest installment of the Centennial Speaker Series. Tickets are available for $5 at www.winchestermysteryhouse.com.

And the Saratoga Historical Foundation is presenting an online lecture, “How Californians Saved Big Basin,” featuring author Traci Bliss on Aug. 22 at 7 p.m. She’ll talk about the people — including women journalists, Jesuit priests and San Francisco socialites — who banded together to bring about the creation of the state park more than a century ago. She’ll also cover the park’s devastation from the CZU Complex Fire in 2020 and the plans for its future. Go to www.saratogahistory.com for more details.