Boston Comedy Festival: Standing up and competing for laughs in Somerville


Editor’s Note: Vanyaland comedy writer Jason Greenough is at Boston Comedy Festival all week long; recap our full coverage here.

While Tuesday night was all about riding the nostalgia train in honor of Steve Sweeney’s comedic genius, Wednesday night (September 12) the Boston Comedy Festival was all about the new blood — and even some veterans — on the scene.



The fest’s stand-up contest has once again brought some of the brightest comedy hopefuls in the country to Somerville, and as always, each contestant brought their A-game to the table, and had stages at The Rockwell and The Burren in stitches throughout the preliminary rounds.

Part of the allure that the annual competition brings is that it showcases the whole gamut of experience and performance, from local and national faces that have become comfortable with a mic in their hands, to the folks that have potential but haven’t struck that match of comfort and flow just yet. The comfort a performer exudes on stage is only a small part in the judging process that catapults a comic to the next round, and while not all performers nailed that aspect, they each brought the funny in their own unique ways.

With local staple Nick Chambers and decorated stand-up vet Poppy Champlin acting as the bookends at The Rockwell for the first of two shows in the basement venue, and Jody Sloane teaming up with Mark Riley to emcee the first installment of The Burren’s pair of shows, the applauses and cheers were in no short supply. The skilled emcees made sure each performer was acknowledged with a raucous ovation as they entered and exited.

While local faces like Nick Ortolani and Dan Hall held it down in The Rockwell, out-of-towners like New Jersey’s Ibraham Khalif and Ohio native Mike Paramore garnered just as much laughter on “foreign soil” as the hometown talent — and at some points, more. Taking The Burren by storm was Erin Spencer and Cassandra Dee, while Cincinnati’s Samuel Evans opened the showcase with his own fair share of laughs. But even though every performer had their own arsenal of gut-busters, a spot in the second round rests on much more.

Stage presence, originality, delivery — these are all factors that play into the fate of each performer, and while folks like Kenice Mobley, Toronto native Kyle Hickey, and Gene Harding certainly held their own in front of their respective crowds in Davis Square on Wednesday night, they weren’t able to advance. But there’s no doubt that this isn’t the last we’ve seen of them.

Here’s a rundown of who you’ll see in the second round: Mike Paramore, Nick Ortolani, Dan Hall, Janet McNamara, Liz Barrett, Alex Falcone, Terrence Pennington, Cassandra Dee, Jason Choi, Alex Velluto, Erin Spencer, Samuel Evans, Narinder Singh, Kathe Farris, Phill Hunt, Wendy Wroblewski, Morgan Jay, Carolyn Riley, Rich Gustus, Bubba Ginnety, Nancy Norton, Emily Ruskowski, John Baglio, Jason Banks, and Byron Bertram.

Tonight’s Thursday night (September 13) slate will show just how top-notch the second round sets will need to be in the semifinals in order to get to the big show during Saturday’s finale, so it’s certainly not something you’ll want to miss if you’re in the area and looking for some feel-good hours of laughter… and more than likely a whole lot of porn jokes.

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