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

The first ever Vermont Comedy Festival was a comedic masterpiece

By Dave Hoffenberg

Bridgewater’s Collen Doyle, who owns the Woolen Mill Comedy Club there and Killington’s Matt Vita put on the festival. They both performed throughout the weekend. There were shows from Thursday through Sunday in Bridgewater, Killington, South Pomfret and Woodstock. I was fortunate to catch 5 of the shows. On Thursday I saw the 30-comedian stand-up battle. Each comic had only one minute to perform their best stuff and then the audience decided who advanced. That was a tough job for us because each comic was great. There were comics from all over the country. Ultimately it was won by Robert “Bob” Alper who is also an author and Rabbi, making him the world’s only practicing clergyman doing stand-up comedy. He will be headlining a show at the WMCC on December 18th.

On Friday and Sunday afternoon, I caught shows at Rivershed. These were free shows for all to enjoy and I believe everyone did. Nine comics performed on Friday and ten on Sunday. The only bad part was not wanting to spit out the delicious food because you were laughing so hard.
Saturday night’s sold-out headlining show was at the Grange Theater in South Pomfret. I finally got to see Nikki MacCallum’s one-woman musical comedy show. I interviewed Nikki for her show at the WMCC back on November 5th but was unable to attend. Nikki sang and played the piano while telling us stories about her trip to the laundromat where someone pulled her clothes out of the dryer, leaving them wet. She also sang about her hair treatment among other topics. It was a funny show, and she is quite brilliant. That wasn’t the only music featured in the night. Matt Vita aka The Gnar Father performed some rap comedy songs. He also brought up an audience member and made up a song about him on the spot, he was a canoeist. There’s nobody that could make up a song about a canoeist, but Matt did, and it was hilarious. Collen Doyle did a funny stand-up routine that included spot-on impersonations of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. Vicki Ferentinos did her stand-up, and I was happy to see her after only seeing a minute or two on Thursday. She was the runner-up to Bob. Vicki tells stories that are quite funny, and she sang a comedic version of “Deck the Halls”. The show also featured dancer Emmy Wilson, prancer is a better word. She pranced around the stage during the comedian’s breaks. She infused that with silent comedy.

Sunday’s headlining show was Joe List at the Woodstock Town Hall Theatre. I am so glad to have been able to see him perform. I laughed so hard; I was crying. He was hilarious from start to finish, covering so many topics. Joe has performed on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, The Late Show with David Letterman and so much more. He is quick witted, especially when audience members tried to correct him on his comedic facts. I didn’t want the show to end. Other comics on the bill were Matt Wayne who told us how relieving it is to throw out a sponge and Andrew Shiavone who told us about Thruples, hiking and way too friendly Airbnb’s.

Many of the comics were performing in Vermont for the first time. That made for some hilarious original comedy about our state and what it’s like for a city slicker to see. I applaud Matt and Collen and their crew for putting together this Festival in a short amount of time. I look forward to next year’s and encourage you all to check out to see what you missed and what’s upcoming. The WMCC, located in the Bridgewater Mill, has shows every Saturday night. We all need comedy in our lives, and I am really glad to have laughed so much this past weekend.

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