Column, Rockin' The Region

Rockin’ the Region at the Woolen Mill Comedy Club

By DJ Dave Hoffenberg

“I’m funny how? I mean funny like I’m a clown, I amuse you? I make you laugh, I’m here to amuse you?” said Tommy DeVito in Goodfellas.

If you like it funny and want to be amused then you have to check out the shows at the Woolen Mill Comedy Club in Bridgewater. I’ve been to many shows there and discovered some amazing local talent. This Saturday’s show, June 12 at 8 p.m., will be part comedy and part burlesque. The burlesque is sponsored by Green Mountain Caberet. 

The club was started by lifelong resident Collen Doyle, who will be performing this Saturday. He said, “The idea behind the show is to add a little bit more fun and a little bit more of a unique experience in a club setting. There’s bar shows and different things people do with comedy in restaurants but I feel with the burlesque we’re able to take advantage of having a club space that’s more specific where people are going there to specifically watch comedy and burlesque. Sometimes the comedy is an afterthought in a bar but here we have people wanting to watch a show.”

By Tim Buttner
Collen Doyle performs at his Woolen Mill Comedy Club in the Bridgewater Mill Mall.

You can follow the club on Facebook and around July 1 when Vermont will be fully opened up and they will release their summer and fall programming schedule. In the works is a stand-up night, a jazz night, a burlesque night and a magic night that would star Hickory the Drunk & Underwhelming. I love comedy and I love magic but I have not seen them performed in one show by one guy as awesome as Hickory.

Woolen Mill got its start after friends wanted Doyle to perform locally. He’s performed at some of the top clubs in the country like the Broadway Comedy Club and Stand Up NY so he didn’t want to just perform in the corner of a restaurant.

There was a space open in the Mill connected to Ramunto’s Pizza. His concept was to convert this space into a club room with a stage, some chairs and people could order food and drink from the restaurant but they would be in their own private room. They used that for a year and then Ramunto’s wanted to use the space for retail so Collen was offered a place upstairs. 

He said, “It had the brick wall, higher ceilings, no beams. It was a much better venue for comedy.” 

When they first opened downstairs, they were the first brick and mortar comedy club in Vermont and to this date, they’re the longest running. This December will be their seventh anniversary. There’s only one other club and that’s the Vermont Comedy Club in Burlington.

New York has released some safety protocols for all their comedy clubs and performing arts venues but Doyle made a joke saying, “Oh what, the state of Vermont is not sitting around making opening protocols for the two of us?”

Collen Doyle was born and raised in Bridgewater and grew up a mile from the Mill. He used to go there to get candy. When he was younger he was fascinated by the brick. Bridgewater has surprisingly few brick structures. There is only one home in the village made of brick. He thinks the Mill looks urban like a NYC brownstone. 

He said, “It kind of looks out of place but it’s cool I now occupy that space on the second floor.”

Doyle now divides his time between Bridgewater and New York City. He will be performing stand-up at the Broadway Comedy Club on July 10 at 6 p.m. The Woolen Mill has presented shows in New York City, too. Doyle has been very active in bringing acts from there up here and Vermont acts down to New York City. 

In fact, one of the city acts, Dan Perlman, who has performed at the Woolen Mill just sold a show to Showtime which premiered two weeks ago. Check out “Flatbush Misdemeanors,” which Perlman wrote and stars in with his best friend Kevin Iso.

But Bridgewater remains Doyle’s home base. He said, “I love everything I do in New York but Bridgewater has grown a lot. People like Dan Perlman and people who are becoming nationally known talent, for them to have an interest to come to Bridgewater is like a dream come true.”

Covid slowed things way down for the club but Doyle used the time wisely and did some renovations. 

There wasn’t anything happening due to the pandemic until Hickory reached out with an idea, “The Drunk & Under Quarantine Show,” presented by the Woolen Mill Comedy Club. That kept Doyle busy and he loved it. It’s every Wednesday at 8 p.m. presented on Woolen Mill Facebook Live. 

Doyle said, “It was a way for us all to get together and I was able to keep working my new material, come up with a new set every week.” 

The show is now in season two. From that he was able to make some new connections like with Matt Vita, who is a fellow comedian/actor who wrote a movie based in Killington. Doyle called Vita his doppelgänger. Vita in Killington and Doyle in Bridgewater. The dark comedy is produced by Vita and Mark Dudzinski of Gnar Bois Productions and Doyle was the assistant director. They just wrapped the filming and it’s in post-production. Stay tuned for some future articles in a few weeks about the movie and to learn more about Collen Doyle.

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