Entertainment Highlights: A Funny Thing Happened to the Comedy Business

  • Will Noonan. Courtesy photo

    Will Noonan. Courtesy photo

  • Cameron Foord, who plays Hannah, holds Andra Kisler, Rachel, in Hannah Free, one of the shows in the Summer Pride Festival in Randolph. (Courtesy photograph)

    Cameron Foord, who plays Hannah, holds Andra Kisler, Rachel, in Hannah Free, one of the shows in the Summer Pride Festival in Randolph. (Courtesy photograph)

  • Will Noonan. Courtesy photo
  • Cameron Foord, who plays Hannah, holds Andra Kisler, Rachel, in Hannah Free, one of the shows in the Summer Pride Festival in Randolph. (Courtesy photograph)

It used to be more straightforward for a comedian. The goal, simply, was to be funny. To tour, hone the material, and continue touring. If you were funny, you’d do OK.

That still holds true, but it’s no longer enough. With the rise of social media came a massive hunger for content. Those who harnessed that succeeded, such as Rob Delaney, an otherwise conventional comedian whose absurd (and frequently hilarious and inappropriate) Tweets have garnered him more than 880,000 followers.

Will Noonan, who performs at Tupelo Music Hall in White River Junction on Saturday with comedian Jim Colliton, has fewer Twitter followers, about 16,000, but has similarly used the public hunger for bite-sized humor to his advantage.

“I think it’s tough nowadays to have a career solely by being a funny comic,” he said last week, from his home outside of Boston. “If you don’t have your own reality show, (fans) want to be able to put together your reality of life.”

That has led Noonan — whose on-stage comedy features a fair amount of storytelling that can’t be condensed easily — onto various social networking stages. His Twitter feed features off-the-cuff riffs (“My act has more call backs than a charismatic commercial actress with great teeth.”) alongside plugs for his personal projects. He also uses Instagram, taking photos and adding jokes as captions, something he said has gained him many fans. He contributes to r/standupshots, a sub-forum on the website Reddit, in which a joke is written atop a picture of the comedian who told it, with the teller’s name and Twitter handle below.

And he has a podcast, High Pathetically, for which he records his life and interactions as a not-quite-massively-successful comic touring throughout New England. It has gone for about 50 episodes so far.

“When I was starting out in comedy, I would just wonder about what the actual logistics of being a comedian were,” Noonan said. “People have no idea what it’s like to be a working-class comedian.”

It’s a way of pulling the curtain back and connecting with an audience more and more aware of the personal lives of role models. Athletes and actors offer their thoughts on people and politics via Twitter accounts, or send out Instagram photos taken from backstages. With information so easily shared, many want celebrities to demystify their lives.

The podcast is also a way, Noonan said, of bettering his craft. He decided to start the podcast a year ago, when he heard another Boston comedian, Bill Burr, talk about how his show has helped his riffing abilities. He also recalled comedian Joe Rogan referring to podcasting as “treadmill time” for stand-up.

Noonan has since recorded everything from long monologues while driving to gigs, to conversations with hitchhikers.

But as much as this has all helped Noonan, who started comedy in New York City in 2007, when he was 24, it still all goes to support the main act, he said. As much as new media is a necessity, the most important thing is the most traditional one.

So combine the stand-up show, the Reddit posts, the Twitter, the Instagram, and you get the Will Noonan Brand. Right?

“It’s a pretty crappy brand if it’s a brand,” Noonan joked. “It’s sold at the dollar store.”

Tupelo Music Hall’s Night of Comedy, featuring Will Noonan and Jim Colliton, will begin at 7 p.m. on Saturday. Tickets are $17, and can be purchased at www.tupelohallvermont.com.

Best Bets

This year’s Summer Pride Festival at Chandler Music Hall will kick off with its first three performances this weekend, featuring an introduction by the author of Wicked. Gregory Maguire, who penned the tale of Oz’s Wicked Witch of the West that became a bestselling book and massive Broadway hit, will introduce Moises Kaufmann’s play, Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde. It dramatizes the civil and criminal trials following charges that Wilde had committed acts of gross indecency due to his relationship with another man. That show begins Friday at 7 p.m. It is the first time it will be performed in Vermont.

All the shows in this third annual festival — there are six, with three performed this weekend and next — are meant to foster conversation among gay and lesbian Vermont residents, as well as the larger community. The second show is Claudia Allen’s Hannah Free, introduced by attorney Susan Murray, who worked on Baker v. State of Vermont, which established marriage equality for same-sex couples. That show is Saturday at 7 p.m. The third show is Directions for Restoring the Apparently Dead, written by Martin Casella, who will also introduce it. It begins at 7 p.m. Sunday.

Tickets are $17 in advance and $20 day-of-show for adults, and $12 in advance and $15 day-of-show for students. They can be purchased at www.chandler-arts.org or by calling the box office between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. on weekdays at 802-728-6464.

∎ On Friday and Saturday nights, 17-year-old singer-songwriter Jack Snyder will put on a pair of shows at Woodstock’s Little Theatre, benefiting Woodstock Union High School’s jazz program. Snyder, a recent graduate of the high school set to attend the Berklee College of Music in Boston this fall, hopes to donate $500 worth of proceeds to his alma mater as a thank you. He’s been performing on stages around New England since he was 12.

Joining him for the shows, which will be packed with Snyder’s original, funky tunes, will feature members of the school’s jazz/funk band, as well as professional musicians such as Adrian Harpham, a session drummer, and Bob Merrill, a bass and piano player with more than 30 years of experience. The shows begin at 7 p.m., and tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for students. For more information or to purchase tickets, go to www.jacksnyder.com.

Outdoor Shows

∎ The East Bay Jazz Ensemble, led by Windsor-based director Gerry Grimo, will perform on the Windsor Common on Wednesday. The show begins at 6 p.m.

∎ Burlington-based Chad Hollister will bring his catchy, radio-friendly pop-rock (think Matchbox 20, et al.) to the Quechee Green tonight at 6:30 p.m. In 2009, Hollister’s single Grow reached No. 24 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Other Music

∎ The wild press descriptions of The Defibulators’ music are nearly as fun as the music itself, a sort of stomping, countrified set of tunes also influenced by the band’s Brooklyn roots. Basically, to describe the band, take a decidedly country-music word, an urban word, and smash them together. For instance: “Hee-Haw on mescaline,” or “CBGB-meets-Grand Ole Opry,” referring to a New York City hardcore and punk rock club and the Nashville shrine. Either way, it’s pretty joyful music, and the band’s going to play at Tupelo on Friday in advance of the late August release of its new album, Debt’ll Get’em. The show starts at 8 p.m., and tickets are $15.

∎  Tonight, baritone Kenneth Overton, who has toured around the country, will sing spirituals, musical theater songs and more at the First Baptist Church in New London. The show begins at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $25 for adults and $5 for students. They can be purchased at www.SummerMusicAssociates.com or at the door. For more information, call 603-526-8234.

∎  Non-profit Upper Valley chamber music group Classicopia will present “Czech Please,” featuring the music of Czech composers Bedrich Smetana and Anton Dvorak, at several venues through the weekend. Omar Chen Guey (violin), Patrick Owen (cello) and Daniel Weiser (piano) will perform. The first show is Friday at Lebanon’s First Congregational Church at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $20 for adults, $10 for church members and free for children and students, and are available at the door. The second show is at 7 p.m. Saturday at the home of Margot and Harold Haddock, who live at 29 Hummingbird Hill in Grantham. Reservations, which include refreshments, cost $40 each. The third show is on Sunday at 4 p.m. at the home of Al and Marilyn Austin-Nelson, 2 Ridge Road in Hanover. Reservations, with food and drink, cost $35 each. To make reservations for the latter two shows, call Marcia Colligan at 603-643-3337 or email Marcia@classicopia.org.

∎ Speaking of chamber music, Camerata New England will perform A Concert For Autumn on ClassicalNH Radio, which includes pieces by Grieg, Mozart and Bartok. The show is at 8 p.m. Friday, and can be streamed online at www.classicalnh.org.


∎ A cast of 19 children and adults will present Heidi , an adaptation of an 1888 Johanna Spyri story, at Bradford’s Old Church Theater this weekend. Gloria Heidenreich directs from an original script by Charles Fray, about a girl brought to — and then taken away from, to her dismay — her reclusive grandfather’s hut in the Alps. Shows are Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 4 p.m., both this week and next. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students. They can be purchased by emailing reservations@oldchurchtheater.org or calling 802-222-3322.

∎  The Children’s Theatre reaches the halfway point of its summer series this week as it brings Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland to the Upper Valley on Monday. The troupe, which is part of Jean’s Playhouse in Lincoln, N.H., will perform at the Claremont Opera House at 10 a.m. and the Plainfield Town Hall at 1 p.m. The shows last about a half-hour, and are recommended for ages 3 and up. Tickets are $7 or $25 for a four-pack. For information, go to www.papermilltheatre.org/childrens-theatre/.

∎  Eclipse Grange Shorts: An Evening of Short Story Performances continues on Thetford this weekend, featuring staged readings of works by Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, Kevin Fitzpatrick and Annie Proulx. The final two shows take place on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. at the Eclipse Grange Theater. Reservations can be made by calling 802-785-4344.

∎  The Music Man will finish its run at the New London Barn Playhouse this weekend, with shows tonight, Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and a final Sunday performance at 5 p.m. Tickets range from $18.50 to $39, and can be purchased at www.nlbarn.org/box-office/current-season/ or by calling 603-526-6570 or 603-526-6710.


Dartmouth’s Hopkins Center for the Arts will present the third and fourth entries in its Film Special series this weekend:

∎  The Forgotten Kingdom, by Vermont filmmaker Andrew Mudge, is a Bildungsroman about a South African boy who returns to his remote, native village to bury his father. A screening will be held Friday at 7 p.m., and Mudge will be on hand for a post-screening discussion. Tickets are $9 for adults, and $5 for children aged 3 to 12 and for Dartmouth employees.

∎ The next night, filmmaker Ken Burns will present the third of his seven-part The Roosevelts: An Intimate History in advance of its 2014 airing on NHPTV. Episode Three: The 1910s covers all of the major Roosevelts of the day: Teddy (nearly dying in the Amazon), Franklin (rising up the political ladder) and Eleanor (realizing her husband’s infidelity). Providing the voices for the three figures are Paul Giamatti, Edward Herrmann and Meryl Streep. Burns will be on hand for a post-screening discussion. The screening begins at 7 p.m., and tickets are $15 for adults, $5 for children aged 3 to 12.

Bar and Club Circuit

∎ Funky Upper Valley-ites Mo’Combo will perform at the Skunk Hollow Tavern Friday night, starting at 9 p.m.

∎ Randy White will perform at Jesse’s in Hanover Friday night. Music begins at 5 p.m.

∎ Terry Ray Gould and Suzi Hastings — also known as the acoustic duo Second Wind — will perform at the Seven Barrel Brewery in West Lebanon Friday, beginning at 7 p.m.

∎ The Conniption Fits will perform at the Salt hill Pub in Newport tonight, starting at 9 p.m. At the same time Friday night, Brooks Hubbard will stop by, toting his brand of acoustic rock. And the day after that, another acoustic rocker, Dave Bundza, will perform.

∎ At Salt hill Lebanon Friday night, Rockit Science, a classic rock band from southern New Hampshire, will make its Lebanon debut at 9 p.m. The next night, Sean Wyatt returns for an acoustic rock performance at the bar.

∎ Acoustic and classic rock trio Hi-Way Five will hit the Hanover Salt hill Pub Friday night at 9 p.m. On Saturday night, Wayne Canney will bring his brand of acoustic rock and country to the pub all the way from San Francisco.

Open Mics

∎ Tupelo will host an open mic tonight, with the Laura Jean Brinkley Trio as a featured performer. The music starts at 7 p.m., and sign-up begins an hour before that. Admission is $5.

∎ Colatina Exit in Bradford will run an open mic on Tuesday at 8 p.m.

∎ Brian Warren and Seth Barbiero will host the Lebanon Salt hill Pub open mic tonight at 8 p.m.

∎ On Monday, Hanover’s Salt hill Pub will run an open mic at 7 p.m., hosted by Chad Gibbs.

∎ The Seven Barrel Brewery hosts an open mic night on Wednesdays, starting at 8 p.m.

∎ Gregory Brown hosts an open mic at Hartland’s Skunk Hollow Tavern, beginning at 8:30 p.m. on Wednesdays.

Jon Wolper can be reached at jwolper@vnews.com or 603-727-3248.