Comedy crew cracks up at the Middlebury Marquis
Elsie Lynn Parini October 12. 2017
Sometimes life can get too serious. Just a week’s worth of national headlines these days is enough to wipe the smiles from our faces and leave us huddling under the blankets in bed. But that’s no way to go through life now, is it?
No. Decidedly not.
Laughter, smiles, comedy — they just might be the only way through the disasters of each day. Not only does laughing make us “friendlier, more resourceful, more attractive and more radiantly alive,” but it also has physical health benefits.
PsychologyToday.com continues on to explain that “laughter reduces levels of stress hormones, increases health-enhancing hormones, and improves blood flow to the heart — all resulting in greater relaxation and resistance to disease, as well as improved mood and positive outlook.”
OK, got it. Laughing is good. But there’s not much to smile about when you learn that an average 40-year-old only laughs four times a day, compared to a 4-year-old who laughs 300 times (again PsychologyToday.com).
Two local women are about to change that depressing stat. Tina Friml and Katie Gillespie are bringing a monthly comedy show to the Middlebury Marquis, where audiences will see standup, conversations, games, storytelling, improv and inevitable small talk. The first show is coming this Friday, Oct. 13, at 8 p.m., and will headline Sky Sandoval, Tim Bridge and Kendall Farrell.
New to the comedy scene, and have no idea who these guys are? That’s OK. They’re all based in the Burlington area, find themselves at home at the Vermont Comedy Club on Pine Street and have earned accolades from comedy critics. This year, Sandoval was a finalist and Bridge was a winner in the Vermont’s Funniest Comedian competition. Farrell was a winner in 2015. And Friml and Gillespie, Friday night’s hosts and fellow VCC comedians themselves, give them all two thumbs up.
“We’re good friends with all three of them,” Friml said.
“They’re three of the best comedians on the scene right now,” Gillespie added.
“It’s going to be a good introductory show,” Friml continued. “A lot of people around here haven’t been to a comedy show before, so we’re inching this one towards variety.”
The show starts in the Middlebury theater at 8 p.m. on Friday night. Tickets are by donation.
Friml and Gillespie met last spring at the VCC — Friml was actually opening for Gillespie.
“She crushed it,” Gillespie remembered. “I’m mean really crushed it.”
The two figured out they were both from the Middlebury area, and decided to work together to bring comedy to Addison County. Friday’s show is their first of what will hopefully become a monthly comedy show at the Middlebury Marquis.
A little nervous about what the three headliners will bring to the stage? Don’t worry, Friml and Gillespie are sensitive to offensive comedy too. Sure, there will be some adult content, but it won’t be raunchy, crass or dirty.
“I love when comedians attack challenging topics,” Gillespie said. “I’m just less into shock-comedy.”
“I tend to gravitate away from blue comedy,” Friml echoed. “But I’d say a lot of the material is PG-13 at least… Our intention is to have variety and something for everyone… Standup comedy is booming right now… It’s an awesome time to get into comedy. We want people to think about comedy as a valid option for going out.”
With that in mind, this show is a perfect opportunity to add a little flavor to your date-night. Admit it, dinner and a movie can get a little old sometimes — so why not mix it up and bring your honey out for a night of laughter. Who knows where the evening will take you…
Believe it or not, Friml is new to comedy herself. Just last year, she went to the Just for Laughs Festival in Montreal with a friend and it “opened her eyes.”
“I’ve been obsessed with live entertainment for a decade,” said the 23-year-old Middlebury native. “But when I went to the festival, I started to think, ‘I could maybe do this.’”
Next thing she knew, she was enrolled in a six-week standup class at VCC with Nathan Hartswick (one of the founder/owners of VCC) and Kendall Farrell (one of Friday’s performers).
“I was drawn into the unanswerable question about what’s funny and how you make someone laugh,” said Friml. “It’s say it’s all about context and timing, but really it’s a riddle you can’t solve — it just happens.
“A lot of my comedy is about being disabled,” said Friml, who has a mild case of cerebral palsy, a movement disorder. “I call it the bisexuality of ability.”
A lot of Friml’s jokes come from experiences she’s had with other people saying dumb things to her thinking that they’re compliments.
“Standup gives me a place to respond out loud without alienating people,” said the Saint Michael’s College grad. “It's become a bit like falling in love — I realized this is it, comedy's the one.”
Her advice for telling jokes:
“Don’t say ‘I’m telling a joke,’ just say it,” she said. “Comedy is all about catching people off guard.”
Funny Females Drive the Vermont Comedy Scene
Sadie Williams July 12. 2017
Tina Friml isn't wasting any time. The up-and-coming Burlington comedian opens every show with a punch — and punch line: "I'm Tina, and I'm disabled. But don't worry, you're going to be OK." Friml took her first comedy class at the Vermont Comedy Club. She also has cerebral palsy, a movement disorder.
A self-described clean comic, the 23-year-old Saint Michael's College graduate uses her stage time to address disability and the way others respond to people who have one. Friml often incorporates hurtful things people have said to her, such as the girl in high school who whispered: "It's so inspiring that you're disabled but you're actually good at stuff."
Interested to see how she follows that? You'll have to go to a live show. Since graduating from the comedy class, Friml has been making the rounds at open mic nights at Drink and the Skinny Pancake in Burlington. She also recently performed in Boston Comedy Chicks Showcase and was just accepted to the Boston Comedy Arts Festival, which takes place in September.
SEVEN DAYS: Why do you think your work challenges people?
TINA FRIML: I think when you get up, and you're disabled, and you're making fun of yourself for being disabled, you're saying things that people have said to you that are kind of hard to hear-- Like "ugh! How could they say that?!"-- And then you're asking people to laugh at you when it's ingrained in their heads not to, It's challenging. I think that disability is one of the most universally sensitive [topics]. You "just don't joke about that," or, if you do, you're labeled as a kind of a shock comic. And so I'm breaking that in that I'm doing comedy about disability, just in a way that is not demeaning to me or to other disabled people.
SD: Any favorite local comedians?
TF: Kendall Farrell. Right after I graduated the class [he taught], he invited me to be in his show, Comedy & Crepes at Skinny Pancake, and I was so stoked. I just couldn't believe I was actually booked to do a show. [And] when I saw him opening up for national acts at the Vermont Comedy Club, I was laughing so hard even after five minutes. So funny. And that's why I'm so thankful that I have his support. I kind of look at him as a comedic mentor.
SD: So, tell me a joke.
TF: I once went streaking and I made the evening news. It was all a blur.