By Christopher Biddle
Mark Turcotte headlined the West Rutland Comedy fundraiser “Laugh for the Cure” held Saturday, May 22.
By Christopher Biddle
WEST RUTLAND – The healing powers of laughter were felt in more ways than one on Saturday night, as the West Rutland American Legion played host to Laugh for the Cure, a fundraising event for Relay for Life that presented three local comedians and Lewiston, Maine-based comedian Mark Turcotte.
The three Rutland-based comedians performing on Saturday presented a range of comedic stylings, from good old-fashioned bathroom humor, to self-deprecating stories, to clever observational humor and social commentary.
The event was organized by Kyle Therrien, a member of the American Legion in West Rutland. Performer Michael Kingsbury said Therrien was an integral part of the local comedy scene for his willingness to organize events. All proceeds from the event will go towards Therrien’s sister-in-law, who is a cancer survivor, and her fundraising team with Relay for Life, Therrien told the Mountain Times in an interview.
Rob Towle opened the night, admitting to his audience that he was fast becoming known as the “inappropriate relationship” comedian.
Michael Kingsbury, who hosts the Speakeasy Cafe’s monthly Rumpus Story Telling event in Rutland, and co-hosts the Second Saturday Comedy Series at the Coffee Exchange, shared the experience of growing up with an over-achieving sister while he himself failed kindergarten.
G.W. Foley, the third and final Rutland Area comedian to perform that night, was happy that his audience responded to his kind of humor, declaring to a roar of satisfied laughter, “They don’t like poop jokes up in Burlington.”
By the time headliner Mark Turcotte took to the stage, the combination of the three diverse openers, as well as the goofy, fun-loving energy of Therrien, who hosted and emcee’d the night, Turcotte was able to feel comfortable during his 45-minute set, and even break into material that would elsewhere be difficult.
“I knew I was going to be talking about my wife’s cancer for this show because it’s a cancer benefit,” Turcotte told The Mountain Times, adding that his approach to the subject is just as important as reading the audience. “I can’t just go up there and say, hey, let’s joke about breast cancer… I have to let them know that it was my wife’s idea, which it absolutely was, and it was part of her healing process. Those were her words—if we can joke about cancer, we can take its power away, and I get my life back.”
Despite having part of his act deal with the marital issues surrounding his unemployment, Turcotte has met enough success in his brief four-year career as a comedian to admit that he’s “kind of” employed now. “In my mind, there’s no better time in history to be a standup comic,” Turcotte said.
He recently won an online competition through the Gotham Comedy Club in New York. The prize is to perform there later this year, which will also include his national television debut.