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A funny man who grew up as the ninth of 14 children on a farm along U.S. 17 in Bolivia is returning home to entertain audiences.
Brunswick County’s own Alcindor Hankins, aka LaSalle LaSalle, will perform along with musical talent Dick Knight Express as a fundraiser for Mt. Carmel AME Church of Southport. Performances will be at the Odell Williamson Auditorium.
Dick Knight Express is known for playing such hits as “Mustang Sally,” “She Used to be My Girl,” and “Lady Soul.” Knight has played full time with James Brown and Otis Redding.
“You just want to get up and dance and sing along,” said Stanley Darrell, Mt. Carmel AME Church of Southport trustee.
LaSalle LaSalle—The life of a Gospel comedian
It wasn’t until Hankins’ mother Eloise Hankins turned 60 that his talent to encourage laughter came to the forefront.
“My first comedy show was in Brunswick County at my mother’s 60th birthday party at St. John’s Missionary Baptist Church,” Hankins said. “My sister put me on the spot to make them laugh. The words kept coming. My sister tried to get me down and my momma said, ‘No, leave him alone. You knew he could talk when you put him up there.’”
At this point in his life, Hankins had already followed God’s calling to preach, but the comedy act of LaSalle LaSalle was born and led him to begin a “laugh and learn ministry.” Now 12 years later, Hankins has the opportunity to share a powerful message with laughter all over the country.
“There are so many medical benefits when we laugh,” he said. “That is why I love what I do. Laughter releases endorphins that travel through the entire body. There are so many health benefits. One of the greatest compliments I’ve ever gotten was a preacher came up to me and said, ‘I seen people laugh that I have never seen laugh in my life. I didn’t know they could laugh.’”
Based out of Fuquay-Varina, Hankins works as a traveling preacher and comedian. The lessons Hankins learned growing up in Brunswick County have stuck with him all of his life and are lessons he tries to teach others.
“I loved it. I grew up in a big family and that taught me to share with everybody else. The farm taught me to work hard for everything. You have to work for it,” Hankins said. “I wouldn’t change my past if I could. It gave me great work ethics. I thank God for the upbringing of my parents. They taught us to love and share.”
LaSalle LaSalle always opens his shows with a prayer followed by gospel music. He feels the music sets the mood.
On April 23, the Wilmington based a capella singing group the Noble Sisters will open for LaSalle LaSalle.
He describes his comedy as inspirational and encouraging comedy that is clean and suitable for the entire family. His comedy is based on everyday life, family, his job and he confesses nobody is off limits to become a part of a comedy skit.
“Everybody I meet is writing my material,” Hankins said. “If they say something funny or off the wall and I can remember it, I use it. As a manager at Wendy’s the customers are always saying things I can use. Just today a customer wanted to know if our French fries are fried or baked. I have been asked what’s the difference between spicy nuggets and regular nuggets. One is spicy and one isn’t, I tell them.”
Hankins admits he has a love for clothing—especially suits. He has a suit for every occasion and in just about every color including pink. Inside his home he has converted the spare bedroom into a walk-in closet for his more than 250 suits and 400 pairs of shoes.
“For years I had eight brothers. Everything I had on they had already worn,” laughed Hankins.
He learned a valuable lesson from Patti LaBelle that confirmed his passion for suits when he opened for her at The Palace in North Myrtle Beach several years ago. He views the night as one of the highlights of his career.
“She told me to change my clothes every time I had the chance,” Hankins said. “‘Get them talking about you,’ LaBelle told me.”
Don’t be surprised to see LaSalle LaSalle change his suit several times during the performance or to see him give suits away.
“I like to give away things that I like,” chuckled Hankins. “It puts me on a high to give somebody a gift they aren’t looking for. It is a blessing to give. Love is giving, love is action.”
He has been known to carry around a trunk full of ladies suits, praying God puts the right people in front of him to bless and that the suits are the right sizes. So far the Lord’s hand has been involved in the blessings and Hankins remembers each one with warmth in his heart. He knows his ministry is blessed.
“All I want God to do is just use me,” he said. “If we love God we need to give like God gave. When you’ve been blessed you need to pass it on.”
For a lot of churches, LaSalle LaSalle is their first comedian and this is something he has achieved for his reputation as a clean comedian.
“I am so honored to be a lot of churches’ first comedian,” Hankins said. “I have been able to keep it clean like I have and that is why I have so many bookings.”
Prior to performing in a town, Hankins likes to call ahead and find a nursing home in the area to visit.
“I take the comedy to them,” he said. “If they can’t come out I go to them. Everybody is somebody. If you can’t get to me, I come to you.”
For more information about Brunswick County’s comedian LaSalle LaSalle visit www.alcindor.com.
For tickets to see LaSalle LaSalle and the Dick Knight Express at the Odell Williamson Auditorium on the Brunswick Community College campus, call the box office at (910) 755-7416 or 1-800-754-1050 ext. 7416. The box office is open Monday-Thursday 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. and Friday between 9 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Tickets may also be purchased online at www.bccowa.com.
Want to Go?
What? Dick Knight Express and Comedian LaSalle LaSalle
When? Saturday, April 23 at 7:30 p.m.
Where? Brunswick Community College Odell Williamson Auditorium