Arts, Dining & Entertainment, Column, Rockin' The Region

Rockin’ the Region at the Vermont Comedy Festival this week

By Dave Hoffenberg

The Vermont Comedy Festival kicks off Thursday, Dec. 1 and the area will be filled with comedy until Sunday night. Four days and nights with shows at the five locations: the Bridgewater Woolen Mill complex and Long Trail Brewery both in Bridgewater, at Rivershed in Killington, at the Grange Theater in Pomfret, and at the Pentangle Theater in Woodstock. Over 40 great comics from all over the country will be performing here. You can see the full schedule in the entertainment listings section and get more information/tickets for events at:

I spoke with comics Collen Doyle and Matt Vita who are the co-founders of the festival. Doyle owns the Woolen Mill Comedy Club, Vita serves on the board and they both perform there regularly. Doyle said there’s never been a Vermont Comedy Festival before. He and Vita were happy to learn the domain name was available and they took it from there.

Doyle said it was intimidating at first but the support they received made it easier. Comics sent in 5-minute video submissions and they received hundreds of entries.

Doyle said, “It was really cool to see. When the WMCC started eight years ago, Vermont didn’t have the scene it has now. It’s always cool to me when people from Los Angeles know about the WMCC and people from Chicago that are aware of what we’re doing.”

Doyle and Vita watched every submission, graded them accordingly and chose who they thought were the top talent.

After selecting the comics and securing the event spaces, they worked on sponsors. Besides the places named above, Aaren Macksoud from 506 On The River Inn also contributed ongoing support to bring artists into the area, Doyle noted. Others supporters include: Mountain Meadows Lodge, Ramunto’s Brick and Brew Pizza, Helms BnB, Plymouth Cheese, The Bridgewater Mill, First Stop Board Barn, Sante, Mont Vert Cafe, Au Comptoir, Bar Harbor Bank & Trust and Shackleton Thomas.

Doyle said, “We’re in a great place. The growth the Comedy Club has seen over the past two years, it seemed like a good time to scale everything up and invite more people into the area to perform comedy.”

Vita added, “We’ve been on this good momentum push and we’ve been collaborating bigger and better. The logical next step was to do something on a much higher magnitude where we could get everyone involved in the heart of central Vermont. We have a great team. Collen and I are the head of it but it takes a village.”

I’ve been looking forward to this since its inception. I’ve seen a few of the comics on the bill but there are so many I’m really excited to see.

There are two headlining shows: Joe List performs Sunday night at the Pentangle Theater. He’s been featured on Conan O’Brien, David Letterman and he was a finalist on Last Comic Standing. Saturday night at the Grange Theater is Nikki MacCallum. She’ll be performing her one woman musical comedy show. I did a feature article on her in the Nov. 2 edition of the Mountain Times (available online at

Another I really want to see is the One Minute Stand Up Battle at the WMCC on Thursday at 8 p.m. About 30 comics will perform their best one minute of stand up and the audience will decide the winner, who will get a pair of “Swoveralls,” which are sweat pants overalls. They were donated because the company thought this was a really cool event. The winning comic also gets a plaque and bragging rights of winning the first ever battle.

Immediately after that at 10 p.m. upstairs in the Loft, which is the new event space at The Mill, is the Festival kick off dance party sponsored by Plymouth Cheese.

Vita said, “There’s this really awesome DJ, you’re not going to want to miss him.”

I agree (because it’s me!)

There are 14 shows and three parties throughout the weekend. There are apres-ski shows, early dinner, evening and late-night shows. There’s really something for everyone.

Another highlight will be late night Friday at the WMCC, where there will be a screening of a video sketch show featuring “Johnny the Dime,” which is a comedic short film that’s been blowing up around the country on the festival circuit. Doyle is excited because they just recently bought the Vermont Film Festival. He said, “In 2023, we’ll be starting a new film festival and this is a good stepping off point for that.”

Doyle said the timing of this is great because the Mill has been under new ownership for about six months. “For the past six months, we’ve been laying the groundwork for what the future of the Mill will look like,” he said. “Everyone has been really supportive and helpful. The festival has given us an excuse to all come together, work together and invite people to the Mill. I’m excited to use the new space (The Loft). We have some ideas of how to use it in the future.”

Doyle is excited about this because it’s bringing people together. He said, “We’re connecting businesses, everything from retail, hotels, restaurants, entertainment venues. We’re connecting all the dots in the area in a way that hasn’t been done before. It’s cool to see these business connections forming. This is going to have a synergy to it with businesses in the area kind of leaning on each other and this festival has created a great opportunity to come on board and support this cool, unique programming we’re offering. I’m also excited for people around the country to experience doing comedy in Vermont where Vita and I both love to perform, snowboard and enjoy our time.”

Vita added, “We started this spring and summer with selling out shows at the Mill which is pretty awesome, considering that’s kind of the off season. I would love to do this festival every year and build bigger and better for everyone involved. My goal now is to sell out every Saturday night show at the Mill where we have to add a second show and more programming because it becomes that hot. Early next year, we’re going to be offering comedy classes that will be powered out of the Mill. We’ll have an Intro to Stand Up class and I teach Improv all over the country so we’ll be offering ‘Improv’ classes. We want to get more and more people involved and maybe uncover some new talent we didn’t know was here,” he said. “We want to continue to build the scene and the community.”

Thursday 12/1
5 p.m. Kick Off Party @ Ramunto’s Pizzeria in the Bridgewater Woolen Mill complex.
8 p.m. one-minute stand up battle @ Woolen Mill Comedy Club
10 p.m. DJ + Festival kick off dance party at The Wooeln Mill complex

Friday 12/2
4 p.m. Kick off show @ The Rivershed in Killington! (Limited seating available at the door)
6 p.m. Early main stage show @ Woolen Mill Comedy Club
8 p.m. Late main stage show @ Woolen Mill Comedy Club
10 p.m. Late night video sketch show @ Woolen Mill Comedy Club

Saturday 12/3
3 p.m. Apres show @ Long Trail Brewery
4 p.m. Apres show @ The Rivershed in Killington (Limited seating available at the door)
7:30 p.m. Musical comedy headline event @ The Grange Theater in Pomfret
8 p.m. Late show @ The Rivershed in Killington (Limited seating available at the door)
9 p.m. Main stage show @ Woolen Mill Comedy Club
11 p.m. Late Night Show @ Woolen Mill Comedy Club

Sunday 12/4
3 p.m. Apres Show @ Long Trail Brewery
4 p.m. Apres show @ The Rivershed in Killington (Limited seating available at the door)
7 p.m. Joe List headlines The Marquee Event @ Pentangle Theater in Woodstock Village
10 p.m. VIP closing party @ 506 On The River, Route 4, Bridgewater

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