March 30, 2006

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So, you think you’re funny …
Prove it. Come to open-mike comedy night
By Richie Victorino  rvictorino@hippopress.com

Here’s a tip for wannabe comedians: If a group of comedians, huddled in the back of the room, laugh at you while you’re on stage, you know you’re not funny.

That’s because comedians don’t laugh at your humor, they laugh at your discomfort.

“If they’re laughing, that means your joke is terrible,” said Lauren Verge, who, besides manning the 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. shift at 96.5 The Mill, is a successful comedian.

The bumps and bruises amateur comedians face on their road to humor heaven are plentiful. They face hecklers, tomatoes and the frightening sound of crickets in an empty room.

But the only way for anyone to get good at being funny is to throw themselves in the fire.

“Bands can rehearse without an audience, but comedians can’t do that,” said local amateur comedian Kevin Cotter. “So you just have to get out there and do it.”

Cotter “goes out there and does it” on a regular basis in Boston. He hits up amateur showcase nights (that’s just a fancy way of saying open-mike nights) at the Comedy Connection in Faneuil Hall (as well as the one in Portland, Maine).

Cotter’s first experience performing comedy on stage (at Faneuil Hall) was nerve-wracking. While waiting backstage for his time to perform he ran into another comedian, who gave Cotter advice on being a good comedian.

“He told me stuff about timing and delivery,” Cotter said. But then the helpful comedian got on stage — right before Cotter did. “He got up on stage and totally bombed. I mean, no one laughed at all.”

Cotter didn’t bomb that night. In fact, in two years of open-mike nights (as well as currently opening for R-rated hypnotist Frank Santos) Cotter hasn’t bombed at all. That is until the night before St. Patrick’s Day.

“People were really drunk, and I just heard a whole lot of yelling,” he said. It was his first experience with a heckler, and he let it get to him. But he knows it won’t be his last heckler.

“Comedians don’t have bosses to yell at them,” he said. “So the way I see it, hecklers are like a comedian’s jerk boss.”

Why comedy?
Cotter said all his life he’s looked at things in a different way, which helped him evolve into a comedian.

“I blame it on my father who would drive us up north, pull over and have us look at a big rock and tell us it looks like a face,” he said.

Of course, Cotter’s talking about the now-deceased Old Man of the Mountain. And how does Cotter feel about the loss of a New Hampshire icon?

“Well, now we can call him Cliff.”


Comments? Thoughts? Discuss this article and more at hippoflea.com

Funny Uh-Oh
Cotter grew tired of having to drive to Portland or Boston to perform, which is why he created an open-mike comedy night at The Bridge Café. It debuts on Friday, March 31, starting at around 7 p.m. This first show is free.
People who want to perform should try coming around 6:45 to sign up. If it’s a success, the open-mike night will probably take place every other Friday at The Bridge Café.

Cotter is bringing in some funny friends for the first show, including Lauren Verge.

A sample of a Verge joke you might hear: I’m divorced from my kids’ father. At the time of the divorce, they were not happy about it. But then I told them “If daddy and I get divorced you’ll have two Christmases every year.” To which they replied “Daddy says you have a fat ass.”

The Bridge Café is located at 1117 Elm St., Manchester.