One of my favorite ongoing local developments over the last couple of years has been the emergence of an increasingly vital standup comedy scene — which has grown to the point that I actually feel moderately comfortable using the word “scene” to describe it. Between monthly comedy nights at unlikely venues such as The Bee’s Knees in Morrisville, Montpelier’s Black Door Bar & Bistro, and The Monkey House in Winooski, to comedy open mic nights at Langdon Street Café and ongoing events at Higher Ground and the Flynn, more comics are working in Vermont than ever before. Logic follows that there would also be more interest in local comedy, and that certainly seems to be the case. Hell, there’s even a website exclusively devoted to Vermont comedy, VermontComedyClub.com.
As I believe I’ve explained in this column previously, I cover local comedy mostly by default. We don’t have any strictly comedy-focused venues in the state. As the list above infers, the bulk of local comedy shows happens in music-oriented nightclubs, which, technically, is my beat. So, presto-chango: Dan Bolles, comedy critic!
I’ve never claimed to be an expert on standup. I certainly enjoy it. And I can generally recognize what is and isn’t funny. [Industry secret: If you laugh, it’s funny.] And every once in a while, I’m told I’m kinda funny myself. Still, I am not an authority. So, take this next bit with the appropriate grain(s) of salt.
Actually, some of it might suck.
Look, comedy is like anything else. Just as our local music scene has good and even great musicians, our local comedy scene has good and even great comedians. And just like we have mediocre and even lousy local musicians, we have our share of crummy comics, too. That’s just the way it is. I don’t make the rules. But, the fact that I’m even writing about comedy — and acknowledging that some comics are better than others — in Vermont says something about how far it has come. The training wheels are coming off. And that’s exciting.
What’s the point of this lengthy local-humor harangue? Great question!
The point is this: I strongly recommend you catch one or both of this weekend’s GMCF shows — Friday at The Monkey House and Saturday at the FlynnSpace. I can’t guarantee you’ll laugh at every joke, or even every comedian. Actually, I can guarantee that you won’t. But, among the 14 comics scheduled to perform between the two shows, I bet you’ll discover at least a few local standups who will tickle your funny bone. And I bet you’ll be glad you took the time to explore a burgeoning local performance art.
And if not? Hey, watching a comic bomb is a time-honored rite of passage, for comic and audience alike.
A hearty welcome back to erstwhile local radio jock Mike Luoma, who earlier this week returned to the booth full time as the music director at 104.7 The Point FM. Luoma, who had been a fixture on local airwaves dating back nearly two decades, was let go by the station more than a year ago.
In a phone conversation last week, Luoma was obviously excited about the new gig. Specifically, he sounded most enthusiastic over his duties as MD, which include filtering through mountains of music sent by pesky publicists — a task I can certainly commiserate with — and deciding what is and isn’t worth playing.
“There are bands I think the Point should be playing that we’re not,” he said, though he didn’t name names. And might the new MD with a long history of supporting local music insert more homegrown tunes in the rotation?
“I’m hoping I can strengthen the Point’s ties to the local music scene,” Luoma said. “I was saying to a friend the other night that The Cush left town too soon, because I could have been playing them.”
Agreed. Though it’s fair to point out that the band had been here for a decade before departing. Seems like more than enough time for someone at the Point — or any local station — to give ’em a spin. Fortunately, there’s plenty more great local music to be spun. And it’ll be nice to have someone pushing for it.
Welcome back, Mike!