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Laugh Till It Hurts

Comedy nights throughout the Berkshires take aim at funny bones



We can only imagine what these comedians —literally—are discussing. But it’s got to be funny. Seth Brown, left, and Thomas Attila “Tom” Lewis at MASS MoCA, where both have performed.

Photo by Scott Barrow

You don’t have to look hard to find hundreds of quotes from comedians comparing comedy to pain. Berkshire comedians Thomas Attila Lewis and Seth Brown most certainly have something to say about that. 

They tell a story about one of their earliest performances together. It’s funny, but not something any comedian would want to relive. In fact, it was a total disaster. And it happened to take place at an Applebee’s. “It was the epitome of a show that was completely sprung on all the diners there who had just gone out for a normal dinner at a chain restaurant and then, surprise! Comedy!” says Brown.

“Hey, everybody, a surprise comedy show! You had no idea this was happening and you did not come here for this, but be quiet, stop talking to your friend!” chimes in Lewis. “It seemed like the staff didn’t even know this was supposed to be happening. The bartenders were hostile.”

Ever since, both Lewis and Brown have tried to ensure that no area comedian ever has to endure the same nightmare.“The biggest determination of whether a show is good is, did all the people show up specifically to see comedy?” says Brown.

Both Brown and Lewis do their best to make that happen in Berkshire County, where the interest in live comedy shows is growing. Brown hosts a popular open-mic event in north county, currently taking place at the Common Folk Collective Gallery in North Adams. He and the collective recently hosted Night of Fools, an April Fool’s comedy night featuring area comedians. He also hosts the podcast “The Problem Solvers.”

As for Lewis, without him there might not be a current Berkshire comedy scene. His reach is far—from programming the Colonial Theatre’s Laugh Lounge series, where he brings in names like Kevin Meaney, to his extremely popular Our Hour of Power Hour Comedy Open Mic at Dottie’s Coffee Lounge in Pittsfield, to his comedy events for the annual 10X10 Festival Comedy Show, to many others. He produces the comedy podcast “My Dumb Friends,” named one of the best by Paste Magazine, and he’s added to his burdens by organizing next year’s Shock City Comedy Festival in Schenectady, New York.

Lewis takes great care to shape his open-mic events to please both performer and audience. He limits the number of comedians in a night and allows them the time to think on their feet and keep shows lively. He draws inspiration from his own teenage years in San Francisco frequenting comedy clubs, as well as the lively Berkshire comedy scene of the ’80s and early ’90s. The southern Berkshires were a hub, with venues like the Shaker Mill Tavern offering regular shows featuring Boston- and New York–based comedians.

Twenty years later, the dedicated comedy clubs have left, but other venues attempt to court the Berkshire comedy culture. The Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield features comedy shows, including Rita Rudner on July 29, and houses Lewis’ Laugh Lounge series in The Garage, which offers Andy Sandford as the headliner for the upcoming June 8 show. The Washington, D.C., Comedy troupe the Capitol Steps has its ninth summer residency at Cranwell Resort, and Zip Stohr comedy shows appear occasionally at the Crowne Plaza Hotel.

In south county, the Mahaiwe Theater in Great Barrington is bringing back 2014’s Berkshire Comedy Festival. Its organizer, Paul Anthony, runs the Long Island Comedy Festival, now entering its 11th summer. He hopes to repeat that success in the Berkshires, saying, “Our goal is to expand it to other venues and make it a week-long festival.”

So far, confirmed for the August 6 festival are comedians Christine O’Leary, Bryan McKenna, and Rob Falcone.

Up north, this past winter’s High Mud Festival at MASS MoCA in North Adams, featured headliner Tig Notaro and was programmed by museum trustee and television producer Jay Tarses. The museum has regularly featured comedy shows over the years, and a day of comedy programmed by John Hodgman has been a hot ticket at the Solid Sound Festival, with performers like Jessica Williams and Reggie Watts. July 9, comedian Joe Pera will appear at the museum under the “High Mud Presents” banner.

High Mud brought in nearly 800 attendees, and the museum partnered with local bars and restaurants for after-hours comedy, which Lewis organized.

Meanwhile Brown and Lewis and comedian Dylan Carlino take turns hosting an open-mic night every Thursday. “The first Thursday is at Michael’s in Stockbridge with Dylan, the second is Tom’s mic at Dottie’s in Pittsfield, and then the third Thursday is mine in North Adams,” says Brown. 

Lewis cautions that the Berkshire audience might be eager for comedy, but that doesn’t mean it will settle for just any old joke. It has standards.

“We have an audience in the Berkshires because there are other types of performance readily available,” says Lewis. “There are a lot of people with a sophisticated palate in the area, and I try to respect that as best I can. I use multi-syllabic words.”  

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January 2019

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Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 203-869-0376
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Cost: Free

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5 Wykeham Rd.
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Sponsor: Gunn Memorial Library
Telephone: 860-868-7586
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More information

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370 Beach Road
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Website »

More information

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Telephone: 203-438-5821
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Cost: Free

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View map »


Sponsor: Gunn Memorial Library
Telephone: 860-868-7586
Contact Name: Sharon Morrissey

More information

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Cost: Members free, Non-member adults $10/ kids $5.

Where:
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View map »

More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
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One Museum Drive
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View map »


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Telephone: 203-869-0376
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
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View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: free

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Telephone: 860-927-1700
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Cost: Suggested donation $10 for adults, kids are free

Where:
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View map »


Sponsor: Ridgefield Historical Society
Telephone: 203-438-5821
Contact Name: Peter Parley Schoolhouse
Website »

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Robert Kalm discusses his documentary Self Make: The American Dreams of Philip Musica, about the notorious swindler Doctor Frank Donald Coster, also known as Philip Musica, who was a respected...

Cost: Members: Free; Non-Members: $5

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
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The Maritime Garage Gallery’s latest exhibit features works inspired by art in public places. “Street Level ” brings to life the notion that public art can transforms...

Cost: Free

Where:
Maritime Garage Gallery
11 North Water Street
Norwalk, CT  06854
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Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203-831-9063
Contact Name: Maritime Garage Gallery
Website »

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Heather Gaudio Fine Artis pleased to present “Jae Ko: 漂流 Drift,” the artist’s first solo exhibition at the gallery.   In addition to showcasing...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
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Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: 203-801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

More information

Simon Russell Beale returns to National Theatre Live screens following broadcasts of Timon of Athens and King Lear, and his recent role in the National Theatre’s critically acclaimed...

Cost: See Website

Where:
The Ridgefield Playhouse
80 East Ridge Road
Ridgefield, CT  06877
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Telephone: 203-438-5795
Website »

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Join New Morning Market’s new knitting club! We’re crafting wearable items for Safe Haven of Greater Waterbury and welcome all levels to join! Instructors will be on-hand for beginners. Yarn,...

Cost: Free - registration requested

Where:
New Morning Market
129 Main St North
Woodbury, CT  06798
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Sponsor: New Morning Market
Telephone: 203-263-4868
Website »

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Blending nature and spirituality, Connecticut artist Lori Barker explores the rhythms of life in a new collection of mixed media works on display at the Gunn Memorial Library Stairwell Gallery from...

Cost: Free

Where:
Gunn Memorial Library Stairwell Gallery
5 Wykeham Rd.
Washington, CT  06793
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Sponsor: Gunn Memorial Library
Telephone: 860-868-7586
Contact Name: Sharon Morrissey

More information

Idea exchange and brainstorming for entrepreneurs.  Sign up at www.martinhosueworkspace.com/event-listings.

Cost: no charge with one-day pass or membership

Where:
Martin House Workspace
69 Westchester Avenue
Pound Ridge, NY  10576
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Sponsor: Martin House Workspace
Telephone: 914-764-3128
Contact Name: Erin Trostle
Website »

More information

The Bruce Museum is organizing an exhibition of small artworks created entirely by the public for the public. We invite art lovers of all ages, interests, and abilities to submit a depiction of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Bruce Museum
One Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 203-869-0376
Website »

More information

In this key moment in our national history and the struggle for women’s equality and freedom of expression, the Fairfield Museum’s exhibition “Flappers: Fashion and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Website »

More information

Zachary Zaitzeff is a painter living in the Hudson Valley who has incorporated his extensive world travel, including his 2011 summit of Mount Everest, into his artwork. Zachary spent 2018 studying...

Cost: free

Where:
RT Facts Gallery
8 Old Barns Rd
Kent, CT  06757
View map »


Sponsor: RT Facts
Telephone: 860-927-1700
Contact Name: Natalie Randall
Website »

More information

The Maritime Garage Gallery’s latest exhibit features works inspired by art in public places. “Street Level ” brings to life the notion that public art can transforms...

Cost: Free

Where:
Maritime Garage Gallery
11 North Water Street
Norwalk, CT  06854
View map »


Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203-831-9063
Contact Name: Maritime Garage Gallery
Website »

More information

Celebrating its 50th anniversary, the Hartford Boat Show (HBS50) features the newest boats on the market including center consoles, fishing boats, luxury cruisers, deck and pontoon boats, sport and...

Cost: $12 in advance online, $14 at the door, $10 Senior/Military one day pass

Where:
Expo Center at Mohegan Sun
1 Mohegan Sun Blvd
Uncasville, CT  06382
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Sponsor: Connecticut Marine Trades Association
Telephone: 860-767-2645
Contact Name: Kathleen Burns
Website »

More information

January Swing Dance w/ Chops, Sauerkraut, Krewtons Friday, January 18, 2018 Dewey Hall, 91 Main Street, Sheffield, MA 01257 Doors open at 7:30, Lesson with Jason Fenton at 8:00, Live music at...

Cost: $10-$20 sliding fee scale

Where:
Dewey Hall
91 Main Street
Sheffield, MA  01257
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Sponsor: Oldtone Productions
Telephone: 413-429-1176
Contact Name: Beth Carlson
Website »

More information

Heather Gaudio Fine Artis pleased to present “Jae Ko: 漂流 Drift,” the artist’s first solo exhibition at the gallery.   In addition to showcasing...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: 203-801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

More information

Here’s a holiday idea for the whole family – a private tour of the Peter Parley Schoolhouse! The Ridgefield Historical Society maintains and operates the 1756 Schoolhouse, also called the...

Cost: Suggested donation $10 for adults, kids are free

Where:
Peter Parley Schoolhouse
Intersection of West Lane and CT Rte 35
Ridgefield, CT  06877
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Sponsor: Ridgefield Historical Society
Telephone: 203-438-5821
Contact Name: Peter Parley Schoolhouse
Website »

More information

Do you have a startup you’re trying to get off the ground? Are you thinking about starting your own business? Are you a solopreneur who’s trying to do it all? Everyone needs a...

Cost: no charge with one-day pass or membership

Where:
Martin House Workspace
69 Westchester Avenue
Pound Ridge, NY  10576
View map »


Sponsor: Martin House Workspace
Telephone: 914-764-3128
Contact Name: Erin Trostle

More information

The much anticipated Great Trains Holiday Exhibit at the Wilton Historical Society opens the day after Thanksgiving, Friday, November 23, with Santa visiting on December 8! Decorated for the...

Cost: Members free, Non-member adults $10/ kids $5.

Where:
Wilton Historical Society
224 Danbury Road
Wilton, CT  06897
View map »

More information

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Blending nature and spirituality, Connecticut artist Lori Barker explores the rhythms of life in a new collection of mixed media works on display at the Gunn Memorial Library Stairwell Gallery from...

Cost: Free

Where:
Gunn Memorial Library Stairwell Gallery
5 Wykeham Rd.
Washington, CT  06793
View map »


Sponsor: Gunn Memorial Library
Telephone: 860-868-7586
Contact Name: Sharon Morrissey

More information

We invite you to join us at Dojo Fairfield on Saturday January 19, 2019 when we host the founder/CEO of C.O.B.R.A. Self-Defense, Chris Sutton, for a one-day self-defense/ASRP (Active Shooter...

Cost: $129.00

Where:
DOJO FAIRFIELD
2317 Black Rock Tpke.
FAIRFIELD, CT  06825
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Sponsor: DOJO FAIRFIELD
Telephone: 203.319.9989
Contact Name: Karina Gramesty
Website »

More information

Caring for a loved one with a mental health condition can be overwhelming and stressful. Family-to-Family is a free, 12-session education program for family, friends and significant others...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Greenwich Hospital
5 Perryridge Road
Greenwich, CT  06830
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Sponsor: NAMI Southwest CT
Telephone: (914) 527-2994
Contact Name: Janet
Website »

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Celebrate Helena Hernmarck’s materials and processes at our monthly free admission day. Work with teaching artists and Museum staff on warm wintery projects while enjoying hot cocoa and seasonal...

Cost: Free

Where:
The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum
258 Main Street
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Website »

More information

The much anticipated Great Trains Holiday Exhibit at the Wilton Historical Society opens the day after Thanksgiving, Friday, November 23, with Santa visiting on December 8! Decorated for the...

Cost: Members free, Non-member adults $10/ kids $5.

Where:
Wilton Historical Society
224 Danbury Road
Wilton, CT  06897
View map »

More information

The Bruce Museum is organizing an exhibition of small artworks created entirely by the public for the public. We invite art lovers of all ages, interests, and abilities to submit a depiction of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Bruce Museum
One Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 203-869-0376
Website »

More information

In this key moment in our national history and the struggle for women’s equality and freedom of expression, the Fairfield Museum’s exhibition “Flappers: Fashion and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Website »

More information

Celebrating its 50th anniversary, the Hartford Boat Show (HBS50) features the newest boats on the market including center consoles, fishing boats, luxury cruisers, deck and pontoon boats, sport and...

Cost: $12 in advance online, $14 at the door, $10 Senior/Military one day pass

Where:
Expo Center at Mohegan Sun
1 Mohegan Sun Blvd
Uncasville, CT  06382
View map »


Sponsor: Connecticut Marine Trades Association
Telephone: 860-767-2645
Contact Name: Kathleen Burns
Website »

More information

Here’s a holiday idea for the whole family – a private tour of the Peter Parley Schoolhouse! The Ridgefield Historical Society maintains and operates the 1756 Schoolhouse, also called the...

Cost: Suggested donation $10 for adults, kids are free

Where:
Peter Parley Schoolhouse
Intersection of West Lane and CT Rte 35
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Sponsor: Ridgefield Historical Society
Telephone: 203-438-5821
Contact Name: Peter Parley Schoolhouse
Website »

More information

Zachary Zaitzeff is a painter living in the Hudson Valley who has incorporated his extensive world travel, including his 2011 summit of Mount Everest, into his artwork. Zachary spent 2018 studying...

Cost: free

Where:
RT Facts Gallery
8 Old Barns Rd
Kent, CT  06757
View map »


Sponsor: RT Facts
Telephone: 860-927-1700
Contact Name: Natalie Randall
Website »

More information

Heather Gaudio Fine Artis pleased to present “Jae Ko: 漂流 Drift,” the artist’s first solo exhibition at the gallery.   In addition to showcasing...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: 203-801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

More information

Type 2 diabetes is becoming an epidemic. Dr. Shawn Carney, a naturopathic physician at Northeast Natural Medicine, LLC, will address the development of problems with blood sugar control. He will...

Cost: Free - registration requested

Where:
New Morning Market
129 Main St North
Woodbury, CT  06798
View map »


Sponsor: New Morning Market
Telephone: 203-263-4868
Website »

More information

Join artists and crafters Amelia McIsaac of Flowering Heart and Susannah White of Carapace Farm Puppetry to explore the process of felting. Work with plant-dyed wool from their small family flock...

Cost: $15; $13.50 member

Where:
The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum
258 Main Street
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Website »

More information

Learn some basics of a simple honest cuisine created by thousands of years of heritage, shared culture and a bit of Viking pillaging.Menu:Demo: Gravlax from Scratch, served with Mustard Dill Sauce...

Cost: 100.00

Where:
Hunt Hill Farm
44 Upland Road
New Milford, CT  06776
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Telephone: 860-355-0300
Website »

More information

Comedian, actor, and impressionist Frank Caliendo has been making people laugh his entire life.  He is well known for his impressions of famous personalities: Donald Trump, Morgan Freeman, Al...

Cost: See Website

Where:
The Ridgefield Playhouse
80 East Ridge Road
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Telephone: 203-438-5795
Website »

More information

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