The Milton native has been on quite the journey over the last 12 years, and he’s only just getting started
For many of us, New Year’s resolutions mean absolute jack. But on the threshold of 13 years in “this weird comedy game,” Will Noonan is still delivering on his — and it brings him to Laugh Boston on December 31. , alongside Nick Chambers, Laura Severse, and others.
Of course, it’s been a long journey to this point. After moving to New York in the early 2000s to attend acting school and pursue an acting career, the Milton native searched for odd jobs to pay the bills, and stumbled upon a gig hosting karaoke nights at bars around the city. Unbeknownst to him, in the midst of wet t-shirt and beer chugging contests, it was in that setting that Noonan would realize his love for comedy. It was also that setting that gave him the tools of the trade which helped him start off on the best foot possible when he made a new year’s resolution going into to 2007 that the coming year would be the birth of his stand-up journey.
“That hosting job was kind of a rough gig, but it ended up being the thing that got me into stand-up, because it was the first time I had control over a mic,” Noonan tells Vanyaland. “The shows were, like four hours long and the first hour would go pretty slow, so I started doing what I now know is crowd work. Looking back, it was really an organic way to become a stand-up comedian, and I just started going to open mics because of that job. It was a nice way to dip my pinky toe into stand-up, because I felt like I had a leg up on everybody by the time I got to my first open mic.”
Noonan found some success as he worked the comedy circuit in the Big Apple, but for the amount of work and exposure he was getting, it was also starting to take a toll, given his self-described “party boy” attitude and tendency to drink heavily. Due to those elements, and his desire to not screw up a dream, Noonan made the pilgrimage back to Southie to buckle down and really figure out what he was doing on stage, and he’s glad he did.
“In my mind, I think I might have gotten attention from the industry faster had I stayed in New York, but I also feel like I would’ve had more personal issues,” says Noonan. “I was a big partier, and I was drinking a ton, and I had to come home to Boston to really grind it out and realize what being a comedian really was. I was kind of a party boy comedian when I was in New York. If I had stayed, I probably would’ve had some success, but I also probably would have fizzled out.”
Since coming home all those years ago, Noonan has become a force in the Boston comedy scene. From headlining gigs all over New England, to supporting slots for comics like Bill Burr, Andrew Schulz, Greg Fitzsimmons and Lenny Clarke, Noonan has solidified his place as a staple in the scene with his approach to jokes and storytelling that just about any Bostonian can relate to.
While he’s had opportunities to showcase his talents on stage, on camera, and in the podcast realm with High-Pathetically and The Noonan Show, a bright shining moment for him came earlier this year, as he was asked to be a part of Virtual Comedy Network’s first installment of Best of Boston Stand-Up.
Sure, he’s not the only one who was hyped to be a part of the project, but from his perspective, the experience was surreal, and he was just happy to be there.
“When we did the ‘Best of Boston’ album, it was a ‘holy shit’ moment,” admits Noonan. “Being there with all of these other great comics, I felt like the Brian Scalabrine of the album, at the end of the bench just high-fiving everyone.”
There’s no doubt that it’s been a wild ride for Noonan over the course of his 12 years in comedy, but he has to admit that 2019 was his busiest year yet. Aside from a stand-up schedule that finds him all over the region (like Laugh Boston on New Year’s Eve, and at Capo in South Boston every monday night), Noonan has also had a plethora of acting gigs this year, from car commercials for Honda to film roles like The Sleepover with Ken Marino. Although his creative fire burns from within, he also admits that being honored as what would eventually be the Improper Bostonian’s final “best Comedian” in 2018 fanned the flame going forward, and has helped to strengthen his confidence, both in and out of the stand-up game.
“For years, I was so focused on climbing the ladder in Boston, and ingratiating myself into the scene that I didn’t even really notice that I was succeeding in doing that,” says Noonan. “[That acknowledgement] really did mean a lot to me, and not to mention, the Improper Bostonian shut down right after that, so I forever will be the best comedian in Boston in the eyes of the Improper Bostonian.”
Sometimes, Noonan doesn’t believe he’s living his own life. One day, he’s sitting down and chatting with Bill Burr, and the next, he’s chatting it up with Anthony Cumia, Artie Lange, and Jim Norton. Aside from that, there are even moments he interacts with a member of the audience at a show where it hits him that this is, in fact, happening.
He’s honored to be a part of the blossoming Boston comedy scene, and he’s happy for the opportunities he’s had leading up to the final chapter of 2019, but as a “one day at a time” type of guy, he’s looking forward to an already exciting 2020.
“I can’t even believe my life some days. One day, I’m sitting down, chatting with Bill Burr, and the next, I’m with Anthony Cumia, Artie Lange and Jim Norton. Sometimes, it’s even a moment with someone in the audience where I realize that this is actually happening,” says Noonan. “I’m excited for the year ahead, and in terms of Boston Comedy, I don’t think it’s even hit yet, as far as people finding out about it. The bubble isn’t even close to bursting yet, and there’s a shit load of funny comedians coming up in the city. It’s a great time to a comedian in Boston, and to see comedy grow here, and I’m excited to be a part of it and see it all happening.”
NEW YEAR’S EVE PARTY AT LAUGH BOSTON :: Tuesday, December 31 at Laugh Boston, 425 Summer St. in Boston, MA :: 7:30 p.m. and 9:45 p.m., $29 :: Laugh Boston event page