Morning news comical trio take center stage Saturday at Theatre at the Center

2012-08-24T00:00:00Z 2014-08-10T23:03:01Z Morning news comical trio take center stage Saturday at Theatre at the CenterBy Philip Potempa philip.potempa@nwi.com, (219) 852-4327 nwitimes.com

Disney Syndication and talk show host Kelly Ripa announced Monday a new co-host has finally been selected to fill retired Regis Philbin's empty seat.

The official declaration is to happen Sept. 4, although media leaks are already saying the mystery man is former NFL player/Fox football commentator Michael Strahan.

No matter the identity, you can bet Pat Tomasula will have something funny to share about the subject when he's in Munster on Saturday to perform at Theatre at the Center as part of The Morning Show Comedians tour.

Tomasula was one of five TV personalities who won an online vote to become the "From Local To 'Live' Co-Host for a Day" and sit next to Ripa back in August 2009, fueling speculation he was a possibility to take over for retiring Regis. (He and Kelly had plenty to talk about since they are both originally from New Jersey.)

But for Chicago and Northwest Indiana audiences, Tomasula is best-known for his television morning news sports anchor duties for WGN, where he admits he's the farthest thing from the "usual" breed of sports reporters.

"At the end of the night, no matter who wins a game, I can still sleep at night," Tomasula said during an interview earlier this month.

"I love sports, but I also know you have to keep everything in perspective and not take anything too seriously."

Not taking things "too seriously" has become one of the popular trademarks for Tomasulo and his morning TV news counterparts.

It's also one of the reasons the natural chemistry and funny banter between the crew led to the trio forming a comedy team to take their act to the road.

Tomasulo's fellow desk commentators-turned-comics include Mike Toomey, who provides humorous segments for the morning TV broadcasts, and Ana Belaval, the "out in the field" lifestyles TV reporter.

"The comedy side bookings really started by accident," Tomasulo said.

"About two years ago, in August 2010, I was asked to be on stage for a charity event and I tried out some comedy lines and the audience responded. Ana had already been doing some stand-up and has been doing comedy for three years, and Mike, of course, has been in comedy for 30 years."

As for his comedy inspiration, Tomasulo said he's found the best topics are all around.

"My act isn't really built that much around talking about my morning television experiences, although I sometimes make references or have a story or two," he said.

"The best comedy is when you can poke fun at the obvious."

And even though he has to be up before dawn to be at the studio for the live morning show, he still manages to do night comedy spots at venues around Chicago at least two or three times a week, without missing too much sleep to be bright-eyed with his familiar sarcastic tone for his a.m. sports segments.

"Sports reporting has changed so much in the last two decades and that's because ESPN's 'SportsCenter' set the new trend that made it okay for sportcasters to have their own personality and make sports entertaining," he said.

During the performance at Theatre at the Center, Tomasulo said he'll open the show with 15 minutes of comedy, followed by 25 minutes of material by Ana Belaval leading up to 30 minutes or more at the microphone for Mike Toomey.

"We work well together, because we each have our own distinct style and funny perspectives to bring to the audience," Tomasulo said.

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