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A NEW STAGE FOR COMICS

Humor has a new home in Tampa Bay at the State Theater, 687 Central Ave. beginning next Wednesday, according to local stand-up comic Earl Burks. "This is more of a concert-level thing," Burks said. "Every city has a major outlet for comedy. We want to do some cool things to make it something more than the usual comedy club."

Burks and his onstage accomplice Winston the Wonder Dog will headline the first two comedy shows that have been scheduled. Winston II is a 2-year-old English sheepdog that supplies set-ups and punchlines for Burks. Winston I died last year at age 11, forcing Burks to train another partner.

On Wednesday, Burks and Winston will be joined by Atlanta comic Phil Perrier and Orlando's John Hope, along with other stand-ups who will do brief guest sets.

Former Los Angeles Comedy Store emcee Ralph Williams heads the guest list for June 19, along with Tampa Bay humor hopefuls Jim Breuer, Steve Arik and Alex Kothe.

Tickets for each performance are $5 and are available at the 550-seat venue. Call 821-9584 for information and reservations.

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