Vermont’s Up and Coming Comedy Scene

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Vermont’s Up and Coming Comedy Scene

Comedy and Crepes, photo credit: VPR

Comedy and Crepes, photo credit: VPR

Comedy and Crepes, photo credit: VPR

Comedy and Crepes, photo credit: VPR

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BURLINGTON, VERMONT – The local comedy scene has risen in popularity in recent years and only continues to grow with the steadfast efforts of hardworking comedians.

From small open mics to larger competitions, Vermont’s local comedians have been working and running their own shows and creating their own scene. Despite being much smaller than the comedy communities of New York City and Boston, Burlington has become a great launching pad for many aspiring comedians.

Burlington has a variety of shows within the area, like the Comedy and Crepes Open Mic and Comedy Showcase every Monday night at The Skinny Pancake. This show allows both amateurs and seasoned comedians to get some stage time. They have even attracted talents from New Hampshire, New York City and Boston to feature on their showcase.

The Vermont Comedy Club is another example of local talents creating their own space. The club puts on open mic nights, offers classes, and even stages some big name comedians when they come into town.

The club also hosts the annual Vermont’s Funniest Comedian competition where over the course of several nights local comedians compete for the title and honors that come along with it. The competition is exclusively for Vermont comedians, which gives local talent its time to shine.

This year’s winner was local comedian, Tina Friml.

“[The Vermont comedy scene is] in one word, supportive,” Friml said. “Since its a relatively small scene, no one’s fighting for stage time or struggling to be noticed. If you get up at an open mic, you’re in the scene. If you have a bad set one night, no one’s gonna trash talk you or tell their friends to forget booking you.”

The comedians grow together and help each other out in whatever ways they can.

“The classes offered at The Vermont Comedy Club start that support,” Friml said. “I don’t even think I’d be doing comedy if I didn’t take that class.” She kept performing at the club and meeting more local comedians which helped propel her to where she is today.

Tina Friml, photo credit: Seven Days

“However, the small bubble Burlington comedian’s have built can only take one so far,” Friml stated. “I always say that Vermont is a great place to become a comedian, but not a great place to be a comedian. [Professionally] after a certain point, you scrape the bottom of the barrel, show-wise, and have done, or in some cases, headlined, the same five shows twice or three times and you gotta expand your horizons.”

The audiences in Burlington skew young with the high college demographic, which, to some comedians, can feel limiting in their material. Caitlin Reese, a comedian from Connecticut who often makes the trek up to Vermont to perform, says that due to the college crowd “…dark comedy doesn’t seem to go over well here. It’s funny because I’m considered to be a lighter comedian back in Connecticut, and I’m not considered to be edgy, but I felt edgy here.”

“The atmosphere is very supportive from other comedians, but the audience is starkly different from other cities,” Reese observed.

Reese believes her struggles with the Burlington audiences may stem from the liberal culture of the college crowds, proclaiming, “I like to think I’m woke and a social justice person, but I even felt like maybe I’m too intense for Burlington.”

She also notes that there are not many people of color in Burlington and even less comedians.

Even in Connecticut, which can be pretty WASP-y, we still have many African American, Puerto Rican, and Latinx folks putting on shows and performing,” Reese notes. “I’m curious how they would perform in front of a crowd from Burlington.”