Wednesday, April 25th, 2018

Portland Comedy

Sokkha Va

Posted on February 29, 2016 in Uncategorized
By USM Free Press

By Amanda Melanson

When thinking of the Portland nightlife, everyone’s first thought is of clubs or bars where patrons dance and drink and then go to Five Guys in the early hours of the day. Portland also happens to have a burgeoning comedy scene, comprising a tight-knit group of comedians. At Bull Feeney’s and earlier in the week at Blue, Comedians get together to field new ideas with one another or to drum up a crowd. They’re no Bob Marley but their acts lend to Maine culture and the overall need for a good laugh in today’s climate that is rife with ups and downs in politics and in the news.

The acts on Wednesday night at Bull Feeney’s were seasoned experts in the ways of creating a room full of laughing people. Bull Feeney’s has been hosting the event for several years now, each week and drawing in modest crowds who come to watch, to laugh, and to give their own brand of comedy. The segment itself is only an hour or so long but that made little difference in the quality of each act – be they seasoned or green behind the ears.

When trying to get a perspective from comedian,  Aharon Willows, he had this to say: “I think there’s a lot of people who do a lot of stories about themselves. That’s what I shoot for. … It’s hard to say if there is an over arching Portland style because everyone is so diverse.”

Willows owns a cafe on Brackett Street, making some profit from comedy stand up on the side. When sitting down with him to gauge the atmosphere he explained that he does multiple venues throughout the week at Blue, Lincoln, and Bull Feeney’s – all prominent locations for a comedy event. He also discussed planning events in Biddeford. Bull Feeney’s tends to be on the smaller side of crowds but Monday Nights at Blue tends to a larger turn out.

Mark Turcotte, who does comedy full time  and produces shows through Maine Event Comedy and also has a monthly show in the Lewiston/Auburn area, further explained, “It’s always a struggle at first but it does pay off. If you want to do comedy in Maine you have to come [to Portland] first. It’s a nice way to give people opportunities to get on stage more.”

The event at Bull Feeney’s was small but comprised of great comedy acts of Turcotte, Willows, Tuck Tucker, and Mike Silvester, and also gave opportunities for members of the audience to stand up and put their material to the test. Being given a first hand experience of stand-up was fun but it might be best to keep my day job.

“It’s easier to make a 100 people laugh than three people laugh.” Silvester added, when talking of the difficulties of drawing an audience and keeping to genuine material. He also does characters while on stage such as Gov. Paul LePage and the front runner of the Republican party in this year’s election, Donald Trump. Silvester has been a comedian for 13 years, working first in Boston and started off taking class. Willows has been performing for six years and Turcotte has been performing for three.

Each act lasted at least a minute long in turn, comprising of fast storytelling with laughs and jokes in between. Turcotte favored current events while Willows told stories of his dog and his girlfriend. Tucker had a joke about making it a rule to be able to get one free slap or a punch for people sneezing on other people – not entirely recommended but still funny to imagine.

There were four acts from the audience that leant humor of an adult or a childish nature and at the end of the night everyone could barely hold in their laughter. Comedy in its rawest form has a way of lending such a vibrance and joy to people’s evenings that it’s little wonder that these greats do so well in the Portland scene. They kept it simple and fun and encouraged the audience to engage in the fun with them.

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