Rodney Montreuil spends much
of his time helping immigrants and refugees resettle in central Arizona.
He visits them in detention centers, translates documents for them and generally makes sure they’re acclimating well to life in a new country.
But the Mesa man has noticed there’s something missing in the lives of these individuals.
“I don’t feel like their psychological wellbeing has been addressed,” Montreuil said.
That’s why he’s organizing a comedy event in Chandler that welcomes attendees from all cultures and ethnicities.
Montreuil’s calling his event the Krik- Krak Comedy Club. “Krik-Krak” is a Haitian expression that’s the English equivalent of a “knock-knock” joke.
Mackenson Louis, a Haitian-born comedian, is scheduled to be Krik-Krak’s first performer at an event on Nov. 16 at Tumbleweed Recreation Center.
Louis is known for penning the series “Comedy Joy Ride” and his celebrity impressions of Denzel Washington and Mike Tyson.
Montreuil said he hopes this will become a regular, ongoing event, one in which comedians from different backgrounds will get a chance to share their jokes with a new audience.
The Krik-Krak Club will serve two purposes: offer a platform for up-and-coming diverse comedians to try out their material, and provide a communal place for residents to feel welcome.
The refugee population in central Arizona is consistently growing, Montreuil said, and these individuals deserve a therapeutic place to feel some joy.
Some of these people have endured natural disasters and political turmoil in their home countries, he added, and are still recovering from their trauma.
“I want people to start feeling happy to be part of this community,” Montreuil said.
“I don’t want them to think that the United States is only expecting their hard labor… and then push them to the side and that’s it.”
Montreuil immigrated to the United States from Haiti about 30 years ago. The teacher and business developer had been living in New York City until the Sept. 11 attacks pushed him to find a safer place to raise his children.
He relocated to the East Valley and embedded himself in the immigrant community. He founded the Haitian American Center for Social Economic Development and was recently awarded the Martin Luther King Diversity award by the city of Tempe.
This comedy club is Montreuil’s latest project to bring cultures together.
“I’m in this for real with a lot of passion,” he added.
The Krik-Krak Club is expected to be family-friendly and the humor will be respectful of all demographics.
The event will eventually become multilingual, featuring comedians who speak English, Spanish, French, and Creole.
This is an incredibly unique event, Montreuil added, and will hopefully attract patrons from outside Arizona.
Depending on the turnout of the first show, Montreuil said he hopes to have another performer in early January.
“I’ve got to go slow because I got to make sure it works,” he added.