Comedy Club Celebrates Its Growth

  • Collen Doyle, founder of the Woolen Mill Comedy Club in Bridgewater, is throwing an anniversary party for the venue on Friday. Courtesy photograph

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 12/14/2017 12:05:26 AM
Modified: 12/14/2017 12:05:34 AM

Collen Doyle opened the Woolen Mill Comedy Club on the first floor of the Bridgewater Mill complex in December 2014, mostly for selfish reasons.

“At the time, I started it as a necessity to perform, myself, locally,” Doyle recalled this week. “There was very little comedy being performed in the state.”

Three years later, Doyle is celebrating both the holidays and the club’s anniversary on Friday night by hosting a session of stand-up in the bigger space on the second floor of the mill building, to which he relocated the club during what turned into a stand-up renaissance in his native state.

“The Vermont scene has grown so much in the last three years that we’re actually exporting comics out of Vermont, to places like Boston and New York,” said Doyle, a 2006 graduate of Woodstock Union High School. “It’s great to see us incubating talent.”

The Woolen Mill’s role in nurturing comics evolved from what Doyle envisioned, in his first year, “as a gym or a boxing facility where comics could work on their games,” Doyle recalled. “We had weekly open mics and shows, and I used to have to go out and scout a lot and build a lot of talent.

“Now it’s more that bigger comics who are more established are contacting me. A lot of them were working on their tryouts for 30-minute specials on Comedy Central and needed audiences to refine their acts. It made us more attractive for performers from New York and Boston. I never expected it would get that kind of recognition.”

The headliners for Friday’s show are Mike Thomas, a veteran of the New York stand-up circuit who’s now a regular at Burlington’s Vermont Comedy Club, and Dicky B, a Maine-based comic who has toured nationwide and opened for stand-up artists such as the notoriously raw Doug Stanhope. Doyle describes Dicky B’s act as “original and edgy.” Doyle met many such performers on his own forays beyond Vermont.

“It’s a tricky balance,” he said. “I enjoy running the club, but I’m also an entertainer. That’s how my network of comics and other producers grows.”

The Woolen Mill Comedy Club celebrates its third anniversary at the Bridgewater Mill on Friday night at 8. Admission is by donation: “$10 bills are good, 20s are better,” Doyle said. To learn more, visit Woolen Mill Comedy Club on Facebook.

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