If you’re in New Orleans for the Essence Festival which starts today and runs through the weekend, take a detour from the musical performances and head over to the National Wake Up Tour. Comedians Paul Mooney and Dick Gregory are headlining spot performances around the country to bring both the laughs and the knowledge to their fans. After eight performances in Berkeley, California, where the tour kicked off, the duo is coming to the stage in New Orleans for two shows on Thursday, July 5.

The performances will benefit the New Orleans Dryades YMCA and both shows will be taped live for an upcoming Conscious DVD to be released later this summer.

“So many people talk about what's not being done, Dick and I talking about what needs to be done and we are doing something about it,” Mooney says.  “We plan to meet needs in our communities nationwide with this tour! Dick and I are visiting jails and/or senior centers on the tour with messages of unity. It only takes a spark to ignite an entire forest and many of our people are certainly lost in the woods. Maybe others with notoriety and status will join in.”

Mooney and Gregory have a century plus worth of comic experience between them. Mooney has written for Red Foxx, Richard Pryor and the groundbreaking show “In Living Color” while Gregory, a long time civil-rights activist, started his comedy career at The Playboy Club in Chicago.

Tickets to the show, which will take place at the W New Orleans are at 8 and 10 p.m.  Unlike most shows of any kind these days, you can bring your own camera and take pictures during the show.

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