Drinking and Laughing: Harrington brings the ha-has to The Met

Ray Harrington. Source: Rayharringtoncomedy.com

RI jokes aside, the absurdity of reality provides enough fodder for Warwick comedian Ray Harrington to get up on stage and make people laugh. Again and again and again.

Harrington – whose status as a Maine transplant gives him some leeway when it comes to dissing such local culinary staples as wieners (“hotdogs with hot meat relish”) and pizza strips (“pizza sushi”) – has become a regular on the stage at the Comedy Connection and will help introduce the area to a newer concept in stand-up, “Brew-HaHa,” on May 6 at The Met.

“Brew-HaHa” is billed as a group drinking game blended with a stand-up comedy show. Presented by Don’t Tell Comedy, the experience prompts the audience to drink collectively whenever a comic breaks rules like talking in a funny voice or mentioning their mother. The comics drink, too, so the evening can get very wacky fast.

It will be the first time Harrington has participated in “Brew-HaHa” but not the first time he’s mixed drinking with comedy. Assembling his documentary Be A Man, for which he examined all the areas in his life he needed to strengthen in preparation for having a child since he lacked a father figure himself growing up, included a stint on a bar seat to find his signature masculine drink.

“I had 12 to 13 drinks in about 90 minutes,” he remembers. “There’s a solid window where I’m being really funny and charming when I drink. When that window closes, it doesn’t open again. I saw that window that day!”

Funny, to Harrington, is examining the absurdities of life in a free-styling, improvisational way like one of his idols, Paul F. Thompkins. He prepares very little before stepping on stage, but his shows evolve organically and rapidly.

“I like to riff. The funniest stuff comes at odd moments. I always reach for that moment. Sometimes, a bit comes out of my head that I didn’t even know was there!” he says.

He unconsciously reacts to the “feel” of the club itself and the audience’s vibe. At Comedy Connection, his home club, he says the crowd always creates a great atmosphere. Hecklers are rarer than people watching online video clips would believe, Harrington says, but he’s used to dealing with them.

“The truly negative hecklers are very rare. Usually, it’s the ones who peaked in high school kind, or the happy hecklers who forget it’s not a conversation,” he says. 

A marketing major in college, Harrington’s friends signed him up as a freshman for a nearby open mic night. He stepped onto the stage, somewhat in shock, and delivered laugh after laugh. His second appearance, for which he planned and wrote material, bombed.

“It just shows me my style is riffing, looking for the right moments,” Harrington says now.

At home, his eight-year-old and he like sharing jokes or pithy observations, but the constant togetherness of the pandemic lockdown proved trying for his family at times.

“They’d cringe and I’d say, ‘Look, I haven’t been able to perform for months. I need you to hear this goof!’” chuckles the comedian, who has appeared on Conan and was a finalist in the Boston Comedy Festival. “Comedy is subjective, but I always appreciate the absurdity of reality. I love the ability to look at the mundane things in life and showing how absurd they can be.”

For tickets to “Brew-HaHa,” go to www.themetri.com. The show is 21+.

Talking Funny: Fuzek catches up with comedian Bobby Collins

Okee dokee folks… In the 1980’s there was a comedy boom. New comedy clubs were opening all over the country and cable television began presenting comedy programming. A relatively new comedian, Bobby Collins, had to make a choice: should he keep his job as vice president at Calvin Klein in NYC or should he take a leap of faith into stand-up comedy? He jumped and never looked back. Almost forty years later Collins has maintained a successful comedy career and regularly performs two hundred shows a year across the country. Collins will be bringing his stand-up to the Greenwich Odeum on Saturday, February 26. I spoke with Bobby via phone from his Santa Monica home.

JF: So I remember when you started back in the 80’s, I used to see you a lot on TV and I even remember the Certs commercial you did!

BC: Oh, God, that was wonderful! They came to me after I did one of them, there were two other comedians that did them as well. They told me that mine did the best and wanted me to do more. Then they wanted to put “Certs Presents: Bobby Collins.” I didn’t say anything but I felt like saying “I will pay you to put that on!”

JF: It’s all about PR!

BC: True, but you always have to be truthful.

JF: Do you have any comedy specials out right now? 

BC: No, but I have a best-selling book and I just finished another book. As a matter of fact, when I was in Denver last week I brought 175 copies with me and they all sold out during the first show, I didn’t have any left for the second show!

JF: What is the book about?

BC: It’s called, On The Inside-Witisms and Wisdomisms. It’s about all the things that I wish someone had sat me down and told me but I learned in life. People love it! I use comedy. I use examples. God first, family second, career third. I do the right thing and it pays off. That’s how I wound up being the host of VH1’s Standup Spotlight. Rosie O’Donnell passed that show onto me.

JF: I haven’t heard about Rosie in a long time. She used to battle with Trump all the time and I figured when he was in power it would have gotten worse but I didn’t hear anything.

BC: Oh, God, Oh, God. Donald Trump. Sometimes I do politics on stage… I make fun of Biden, too, someone get him a shawl or a blanket. But, Trump, I’ve known Donald Trump for over 20 years, but if I sat next to this guy on a plane I’d tap him and say, “you gotta lose the spray tan and your hair is the color of Tang, you look like an emoji, you can’t tell people to drink bleach and put lights up their ass!”

JF: You have had some great gigs over the years, opening for Frank Sinatra is pretty cool!

BC: I opened for Frank, Dolly, Cher, Julio, I put it all in the book! They asked me to open for Sinatra because his usual opener was sick. The guy picked me up at the airport, he said, “Bobby, don’t call him Frank, it’s Mr. Sinatra, don’t talk to him unless he talks to you…” I go into a room and the guys are all answering phones and they’re all named after parts of the body, “this is Tony the foot, this is Billy the arm…”

JF: How is it in comedy now that people have become so delicate?

BC: I just put it out there the way that I see it. For example, the other night I was in Florida and someone hollered, “Yo, we love Donald Trump!” and I looked at the audience, the guy stood up, and I said to him, “when you’re dead you don’t know you’re dead, other people feel the pain. Same thing when you’re stupid!” They all applauded and he sat down and was embarrassed! You have to do it cleverly. 

JF: That’s from all your years of working stand-up.

BC: Exactly!

JF: When I saw that you were going to be at the Odeum I had to talk to you! I used to see you on TV a lot but I haven’t seen you in a bit, what have you been doing? You are still very active, obviously.

BC: I do about 200 shows per year. I have been on all three tonight shows, I am always getting calls, I have a new series coming out from Disney, I’m just taking it easy with it. Some guy wrote a book called The Adventures of Little Billy in The Forest. I am the voice of Bosco the Bear. Disney picked it up and asked me to do the series. That’s pretty cool! I’ve been lucky and I’ve toured with the best. The best compliment I get from venues is that they tell me they get such a variety of age groups when I am there. They get the young, middle-aged and the old! We’re in the middle of a pandemic. Right now people are so anxious and want to come out, they want to laugh! You can feel it; you can see it in their eyes! They just let it out. I look at them after an hour and fifteen-minute show and I said “you really needed to get out, too, didn’t you?”

JF: Yes, people do want to get out, I have seen it as well. You used to say, “I got ca-ca”.  I thought that was funny. Do you still do that?

BC: I got ca-ca? I don’t remember that. (laughs) I do use the one where I am impatient with someone because I am a New Yorker (he makes these weird sounds that I cannot translate into words). I lost my keys, can’t find my car, gimme a gun. Who was the guy in Rhode Island, was it the Mayor, what was his name?

JF: Buddy Cianci.

BC: He used to come to see me perform!

JF: He was an interesting guy, to say the least, but he did change Providence.

BC: My father was brought up in Swansea, MA. My whole life and people still ask me about this. “You’re a New York City kid? But you made the baseball all-stars.” Yeah, but I didn’t play because I was going to Massachusetts to stay in Swansea with my grandparents. I would do work there and then I would go to the private beach club and then we’d run to Providence and eat in some of those great places. Loved it! Loved it!

JF: OK, something else you used to say a lot, maybe you don’t anymore because she got tired of it, was you always joked about having a hairy, Italian wife.

BC: We vacuum a lot! As a matter of fact, people think we have cats.

JF: Doesn’t she get tired of that?

BC: No, she just says, “Why do you tell people I’m so hairy?” I say because you are! I say, “kids, mommy’s off the couch grab the vacuum.” She’s a special lady! I do have a special needs child, my youngest, my favorite. We do everything to accommodate her. She goes to a camp that is up in Vermont. There are 94 of these kids. Nobody pays. Me, Jay Leno and Arsenio Hall we do, three times a year, “Comics For A Cause” to fund it because none of those kids have money. Remember when we were kids? People called them “retarded” or “mongoloids” and their parents would put them in closets, especially in NY. I remember my mother used to say about this one kid Julius, “If anyone makes fun of him, do something” and we did, me and my brother. We stood up for him, and here I am with a special needs daughter and I say “God works in mysterious ways.” She doesn’t walk, she doesn’t talk, but I must be pretty special if God gave her to me. It’s the best but it’s not easy.

JF: I can imagine. It must be tough but she has you and that’s a good thing.

BC: Look at us, we’re circus people! A musician and a comedian. Here we are! What do you play anyway?

JF: I play guitar, solo and in a Neil Young tribute band.

BC: Wow! Very cool! I used to know his manager! What was his name?

JF: He just died. Ugh, I can’t remember.

BC: He wanted to manage me! He hooked me up with ICM years ago. What was his name, John????

JF: Ugh, I can’t remember, let me look, I have my laptop right here, it will drive us crazy!!!

BC: I know, he was a good guy, and we played basketball!

JF: Elliot Roberts!

BC: Elliot Roberts! Yes, lived here in Malibu. And his main guy called me recently. “Bobby, you’re a best seller!” Yeah, I just put down some feelings from my heart, On The Inside, you know, and it worked. It’s a pandemic so I wrote another one!

JF: At least you did more than I did. I hung out in my jammies and binged a lot of Netflix!

BC: Ugh, did you? Ah, Shit! Did you go out and perform? Anytime?

JF: No, it was a year and a half of nothing.

BC: Ugh, John, I would have killed myself!

JF: It was tough. I am getting out now but have had shows cancel again.

BC: I know. Remember we all thought this thing was going to be a month, month and a half? Don’t touch your eyes, don’t touch your nose…I was peeing with my elbows! I tell stories because it lightens people up.

JF: That’s what good comedy is, you hear the truth in a funny way.

BC: And you can change people’s minds about how they look at things, that’s a gift, that’s what I love. That means to me more than anything. You see that staunch Republican talk about money, money, money and then you do this one bit and you realize he never saw The Wizard of Oz, it’s about your heart: if your heart is in the right place that’s gold, no but one ever taught him that.

JF: Some people just don’t get it.

BC: They don’t, they don’t and that’s ok but our goal is to keep trying to change that.

JF: Hopefully you will keep doing it for a long time!

BC: I hope so! They’re all dying now. My two friends died.

JF: Who?

BC: Bob Saget and Louie Anderson, Louie was a great guy, gentle, sweet man.

JF: Evidently they have a seat dedicated to him at The Greenwich Odeum.

BC: I did hear that. He was just a sweet, good guy. He would go out of his way to sit down and have fun with a new comic. Comics ask me all the time, “can you watch my set” if they are opening for me or something, “can you watch my set, Bobby and give me any advice?” Yeah, I’ll tell you but don’t turn it around on me! You know, some of them do!

JF: The only way you will get better is to hear the truth and move on.

BC: Thank You!

JF: If someone tells you that you are great all the time then you never progress.

BC: Right, right! Growth means change. Change doesn’t always mean growth. When you grow you have to change…and look at things…move on. Especially during a pandemic! God’s pushing the reset button for us.

JF: So, what can folks expect at your Odeum show on February 26th?

BC: Oh, we’re going to talk the truth. We’re going to have a lot of fun. We’re going to talk about everything from the pandemic to politics to the pharmaceutical treadmill-what I’ve been through and what I went through, also technology. This call is being recorded, monitored…blah, blah…bullshit, it’s a con job! Anything you do they want to know. You’ve got thirteen e-mails telling you this and that…it’s a game!

JF: Don’t get me started with technology. I have kind of had it with tech!

BC: I am with you on that, John! It’s a joke! You need a password to take a shit now! I had to go to a urologist, I don’t go to doctors, I’m from NY, our attitude is doctors treat the symptoms and we create the causes. So, here I go to a doctor, a urologist, and next thing I know I’ve got a prescription, I’ve never been to CVS, I was on line, there were so many people, I thought people were buying tickets for a Billy Joel concert. And I was behind people and I hear their conversations, “I have restless leg syndrome, then my throat started hurting now I’m taking antibiotics, and then my nipple fell off, then mesothelioma.” Oh my God get me out of here!  Then you read that the pharmaceutical companies made 78 billion dollars during the pandemic. Everything on television is all about drugs.

JF: That’s why I binge Netflix, can’t stand the commercials!

BC: Good boy, good boy!

JF: Well, I should let you go. I am hoping that I am free and can get to your show. So far, no gigs that night!

BC: We’re performers, we hope something comes through! Well, thanks, John. We’re circus people! Let’s change the world!

JF: Always!

BC: We’ll do it! We’ll do it! Keep it up!

JF: Thanks! Fun talk!

Grab your tickets for this show before they’re gone. We all need a good laugh and Bobby Collins will surely fill that prescription. Catch his show on Saturday, February 26 at the Greenwich Odeum. For more about the show, giggle over to: GreenwichOdeum.com

Crowdsourced Valentine’s Day Ideas: We asked the Hive Mind and Dating in RI what their VDay plans were, and shared our thoughts too…

Instead of leaving our Valentine’s Day plans in the hands of advertisers, promoters, and self-serving bloggers, we thought to ask you, dear readers and social media followers, what it is you’d be doing on the 14th if you didn’t have a partner. The results were not disappointing, so we at Motif figured we’d spread the love: 

“I’ll be on a solo trip to Disney World. Not because it’s Valentine’s Day, but the fact that it is didn’t factor into my decision-making process either way.” 
We hear Mickey’s been single ever since that thing with Minnie and Felix the Cat… 

“My friend and I are going to Gregg’s to take advantage of their Valentine’s Day specials! We went last year and really leaned into the cheesy nature of the holiday.”
Are you over 70?

“Crying and downing a bottle of wine.”
As long as it’s in that order.


“Buying myself a new toothbrush.”
Sanitary. We hope that’s a kind of foreplay for you! Buy two!

“Take-out and bad TV.”
Good take out?

“I haven’t had a SO on Valentine’s Day in years so idk outside of that”
Courage! Somewhere, there’s an SO who hasn’t had you on VDay. 

“Probably the same thing I did last year… Taking myself out for a steak and salad alone.”
As long as the steak has salad with it, they’re never really alone…

“Cook myself a full course meal, then buy discount v-day candy the next day.”
Yes! Although, the Christmas candy is on discount now!

“Wine and cookies.”
Do you dip the cookies?

“Getting back from my Bahamas vacation for my birthday. VDay is my birthday.”
Is your name Cupid?

“PlantCity and Veg Fest for Galentines!”
Extra eggplant at least, we hope?

“Myself probably.”
Well played!

“Since the end of a long term relationship in 2017, I’ve donated to my fave wolf sanctuary on Valentine’s Day.”
This feels like a metaphor.

“I vote second Halloween!!”
Yes! I call the one in the slutty nurse outfit.

“It’s a Monday so probably work, dinner, lay on the couch pantless watching TV.”
Well, at least there’s a pantless part.

“My tradition is to gather up some babies, give them little bows and arrows and throw them out the window to see which ones fly. I give them a little time with the bows first, just to see if they can hit anything.”
So wrong.

“I like to print out photos of my exes and take them to some place like Dart City or the Axe Bar, where they let you attach them to the targets and throw things at them. Turns out doing that to the real thing can get you arrested, but with print outs it’s ok.”
We are glad we don’t have to inform SWAT.

“My VDay tradition is to get some high quality construction paper and cut out heart shapes. I write the name of anyone I need to release from my thoughts, and make a nice little fire to warm the mid-February air.”
I can’t figure out if this is really evolved or really scary.

Stand Up Gifts: A Wrap Challenge

Last year, my sister sent me two pairs of plastic gloves, two plastic face shields and a travel-sized container of Lysol wipes – was this a gag gift? My daughter and I most definitely laughed when we opened all this, wrapped, mind you, in lovely holiday paper. Truth was, my sister was concerned that I was taking my daughter out to a restaurant for Christmas dinner. That was 2020.

A year later, the pandemic is calming down and we are all getting invited to proper holiday gatherings again: office parties, family reunions, dances and neighborhood open houses. And with all these parties come the traditions of secret Santa, white elephant swaps, and of course gag gifts.  

The right gag gift is often harder to find than a sincere gift; it works best if it pokes fun with some respect, some love, with recognition of the recipient’s talents. It also works best if the recipient has a sense of humor. Who better to deliver a gag gift to than a comedian?

 Doreen Collins with her pretty and pink FUD. 

What the FUD? 

Local comedian Doreen Collins is the first (and only) female inducted into the RI Comedy Hall of Fame. One year a friend gave her a FUD (that’s short for a female urination device). She laughed, saying, “if I’m gonna hang with the big boys, why not pee like one?!” You go girl! One brand of FUD is even named, “Stand-up.”

Brad Pierce

The Great Fortune Cookie Crapshoot

Of course, a gag gift doesn’t have to have a specific intention. It can just be surprising and odd. One year, when he was about 19, local comedian Brad Pierce got just that. His friends chipped in and bought him a toilet. And then his friends bought him a huge box of fortune cookies. Suddenly flush with good fortunes, he kept that toilet in his bedroom at his parent’s house and filled it with the cookies, like a giant cookie jar or candy dish. Eventually, when Brad moved out to get married, the toilet was repurposed and used as the chair from which he co-hosted a public access show. There is a gag gift that just kept on giving! 

No Shit?

No story on gag gifts would be complete without noting the anonymous gag gift. That would be when the recipient is intended, but the giver is in hiding. 

Several years ago, while local comedian Joanna Rapoza was living in Connecticut, a local paper ran an advertisement for a comedy open mic she was starting. Her old email was provided as contact information, and it had the word “moose” in it. The first night the open mic was to occur, an anonymous (annonymoose?) gift was left for her at the venue – matching earrings and a necklace made of petrified moose poop! 

So if you’re looking for the perfect gag gift for a friend or co-worker, try to think about who that person really is and what they can endure as humor. It can make the difference between a shitty gift, and a gift that’s the shit.

Some places to buy gag gifts:

Spencer Gifts is everybody’s favorite spot for fake dog poo, and that set of matching brass balls. Visit at the Providence Place Mall, 1 Providence Place, PVD.

Imagine Gift Store in Warren is locally owned. It’s a small mall with an entire department of joke gifts. 5 Miller St, Warren.

Frog and Toad is known for its compact but robust selection of jokes and sarcasm, from magnets to aprons. 795 Hope St, PVD.

Pleasant Surprise, where venerated OOP used to be, has a pleasant selection of jokes, jabs and local references for your humor-supportive friends and family. 297 Thayer St, PVD.

Molly Brenner’s “The Pleasure is Mine” is Coming to Kismet Improv

Molly Brenner used to be shy. 

When Motif caught up with Brenner, though, it was to discuss her upcoming comedy special, The Pleasure’s Mine, which chronicles her long journey to her first orgasm, among other things. 

“After college, I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life,” Brenner said. “I was in a really boring job- one of those classic right-after-college jobs where you’re putting numbers into some cell. Data entry, with a slightly exciting title. ‘Associate… of Data Entry,’ or something.” 

Brenner decided to sign up for an improv class- a move that terrified her, being a shy person- but ended up having implications much greater than just being a distraction from work. She got cast on some of the house teams at ImprovBoston before moving to New York in pursuit of a career in comedy. 

“I didn’t have an orgasm until I was 28 years old,” she said, “and before I had one, I wanted to write a show about it.” Brenner did just that, creating a show titled, “Molly Brenner Is Not Coming.” Then the winds of fortune changed for Brenner, and she had to update the show, renaming it “I’m Coming.” It was this version that she took to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Orlando Fringe Festival and several others.

Her currently touring show, “The Pleasure’s Mine,” references her orgasm journey, but also looks at pleasure more broadly. “It’s an hour of comedy about everything that feels good,” Brenner said. “Vacations, food, drugs, all things in life that are easy and fun, but I’m a weirdo that can’t always enjoy them.” 

How did she go from the shy girl to sharing her orgasm story with thousands? “I love the catharsis of comedy,” she said. “Exposure therapy helped. I got on stage enough times to be a much less shy person now- I love finding the humor in my experiences.”  

“Anyone who has trouble enjoying things would enjoy this show- especially anyone who can relate to a story about having trouble having an orgasm,” Brenner said. “I think pleasure is a fun topic, so anyone who wants to listen to sex-positive comedy will love this.”

Molly Brennan’s “The Pleasure is Mine” comes Nov 13 at 9:30pm to Kismet Improv, 1005 Main Street, Pawtucket. General admission is $15. Buy tickets at www.kismetimprov.com.

We Assure You RI Comic Con is Open: “Clerks” Reunion & Beer

RI Comic Con is back after the 2020 hiatus and it’s going to be bigger than ever. Starting Friday, November 5th through Sunday the 7th, the Rhode Island Convention Center will be overflowing with artists, vendors and celebrity guests, including a nearly complete reunion of the cast of Clerks. Clerks was the first movie by director (and Comic Con headliner) Kevin Smith. The black and white film indie was a true labor of love for Smith and didn’t come to be without any sacrifice. In efforts to scrounge together a bare-bones budget, the future comic book store owner ironically sold his extensive comic book collection, maxed out his credit cards and depleted his college fund. The film — depicting the mundane yet magical everyday life of two convenience store clerks — became an icon for the everyman, and a beacon of hope for DIY filmmakers and artists everywhere. 

Local breweries are no stranger to the hard-working do-it yourself-spirit, so it’s fitting that Proclamation Ale of Warwick, RI is partnering with Altered Reality Entertainment and RI Comic Con for a third time to create a Clerks themed beer for the event. The beer is the successor to 2019’s “Take a Vacation to Rhode Island ComicCon,” an IPA featuring the Griswold family station wagon from National Lampoon’s Vacation, honoring that year’s headliner Chevy Chase. 

“Beer? Do people still even drink that? At Quick Stop we had a strict weed-only policy!” says Bryan Johnson – Kevin’s real-life friend of whom the film was based off of. 

The Clerks Beer will be a 7.2% Abv Double IPA conceptualized by Proclamation owner Lori Witham, offered throughout the con for Clerks and comic book fans alike. 

Beer won’t be the only concession collaboration from Smith this year, as he also presents “Mooby’s Pop-up” – the fictional fast food chain from Clerks II

Kevin and his team kicked offPin his hometown of Red Bank, NJ in September of 2020. Since it’s debut the fake food chain appeared in cities like Los Angeles, Chicago, Nashville, St. Louis and Boston. Now Rhode Islanders will have a chance to get their hands on a Mooby’s signature Cow Tipper with a side of Hater Totz 

Be sure to check out the  rare panel, featuring the film’s main cast. Actors Brian O’Halloran (Dante Hicks), Jeff Anderson (Randal Graves), and Marilyn Ghigliotti (Veronica) will be joined by director and Silent Bob himself Kevin Smith and his counterpart Jason “Jay” Mewes. Other View Askew guests include Trevor Fehrman and Kevin Weisman of Clerks II, and Scott Schiaffo of Clerks

All guests will be available for photos and autographs as listed on the RI Comic Con website. The 2021 con-beer will be offered throughout the Rhode Island Convention Center and at select vendors through Craft Collective, so fans should take advantage of the opportunity to crack a cold one with their favorite Clerks cast member. Have one, have 37, we don’t judge! 

Aging Disgracefully: Comedy with Charlie Hall and Doreen Collins

Comedians know that you need the right audience for your jokes and material. And Charlie Hall and Doreen Collins (founder and star of the Ocean State Follies) didn’t need to look far. Their new show, Aging Disgracefully is all about becoming decrepit, with a sense of humor. 

Charlie Hall and Doreen Collins – Dependable Comedians

Long time Rhode Islanders know that Charlie Hall is the stand-up comedian and cartoon artist who founded the Ocean State Follies almost 30 years ago. He met Doreen Collins, a professional singer and actress from New York City, when she became a cast member. Political satire, song and dance, comedy and Rhode Island folklore gave the cabaret show its multi-decade popular run. But decades, demographics, and Covid, changed everything. 

“About 3 years ago, I started to do stand-up again, but felt like I was out of step with the younger crowds and other comics,” Hall said. “So I decided to do a whole show about getting old, and decided to do it with gal pal, and former Follie member Doreen Collins. We have jokes and parodies, like the Ocean State Follies, but also a touching moment or two.”

Now, the duo call themselves “seasoned citizens,” and target their comedy in elegant and finely elderly form. The jokes range from viagra, to forgetfulness, from irritated digestive systems to CVS receipts long enough to measure a football field. According to infoplease.com, about 25% of the state is over the age of 55. So, the Ocean State is filled with an energetic and healthy, fun loving, albeit aging, population. 

Follies fans are still faithful and ready for a good time. Proof of that: Charlie and Doreen are selling out shows weeks and months in advance. Their brilliant innovation was to find the right venues, and the right time of the day to perform. Entertaining sleepy folks wouldn’t be a winner, nor would attempting to engage the crowd in a poorly lit bar. And late night dive bars aren’t walker friendly.  Performance spots now include Chan’s in Woonsocket, Chelo’s in Warwick, George’s in Galilee, The Lobster Pot in Bristol and Carriage Inn in Wickford.

“We don’t ensure that Ensure vodka drinks will be available at our shows,” Charlie laughs, “but we do more matinees than evenings, so that our friends and fans can order early bird suppers.” 

“And no one wants to drive late, because we’re all losing our eyesight,” Doreen chimes in. “Booking matinees works for us too!” 

As Charlie proudly says, “If they’re over the hill, they are with us!” 

For full information about upcoming shows, check Motif’s listing or go directly to the website agingdisgracefully.net

Creepy Cabaret For A Cause: Healing Arrows at Askew

Healing Arrows has teamed up with Askew to host a “Creepy Cabaret” on Thursday, October 28th at 8 pm. The event features Boston comedian Kendra Dawsey, Queer Drag Bobby Fresh-King, Indigenous guitarist The Real Chris Kaz, and several other acts.

Healing Arrows for Indigenous Social Justice and Wellness is a Rhode Island grassroots group dedicated to advocacy, promotion, and education on issues of social justice for Indigenous Peoples. 

The event serves as a fundraiser for the Native Clemency Star Quilt Tour. The National Council of Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls- a Massachusetts-based organization- is assembling a clemency quilt, with the many names of incarcerated women in America woven into its fabric. Once created, the quilt will tour the country, bringing awareness about the conditions of prisons and advocating for the release of incarcerated women convicted of nonviolent crimes. Healing Arrows’ quilt contribution will feature the names of incarcerated Indigenous women in particular. 

Aleticia Kyle Tijerina, Executive Director and Co-founder of Healing Arrows, suggested that the vast majority of Indigenous women are often incarcerated because they are at the wrong place at the wrong time, or because their partners enlist their help in abetting their own criminal activity. As a result, Kyle Tijerina explained, there is a serious impact on women, their children, and the Indigenous community at large. Healing Arrows believes women can be better nurtured and brought into balance outside of prison walls.

Are I Funny?: Start Up Laughing

Looking for great comedy in Rhode Island? Want to try your hand at standup? Check out the Comedy Open Mic Tuesdays at Askew in Providence.

This open mic is specifically designed to support and nurture budding local comics, who begin to gather, chat, laugh together, either inside at the bar or on the sidewalk outside.

You’ll see many of the same faces from week to week. These hard-working comics are tremendously talented and successful performers. “Newbies” also feel welcome, as the more seasoned comedians give feedback and great advice, and encourage all to participate and enjoy the process of honing the craft. 

Owner Windsong Hadley says she started the comedy night at Firehouse 13 about three years ago with a “splattered with blood” sign on the door. The open mic moved to Alchemy, before settling in at Askew, a homey club atmosphere with couches, a pool table, a main stage and friendly staff. 

The true heart of this club is that it is indeed a practice space. Windsong says she wants to see the comics develop the marketing skills and presentation skills necessary for succeeding in the business and that she “aims to promote the development of the craft and encourage the comics to realize it isn’t just a hobby to be funny.” 

Everyone feels at home at Askew, welcomed and accepted, and gets the unique opportunity to work on jokes before taking on a bigger crowd, whether it be in Boston or New York City or wherever the pursuit takes them. Windsong also helps comics learn what she describes as “the ethics of comedy”. 

“If Chris Rock wants to throw the mic on the floor, that’s fine,” she laughs, “but we discourage performance deviance like that.” While she doesn’t actually censor anyone, she or one of her hosts introduces every open mic reminding the crowd of a welcoming LGBTQ acceptance policy. She uses what she calls a “No 2 G” rule — ie: if a word used in a joke has “two n’s”, it is inappropriate and not acceptable. 

In addition to the weekly open mic, Askew offers showcases and themed shows for the most experienced in the area. Recently, in partnership with Last in Line Comedy, she featured an LGBTQ Rainbow Show that was positive, celebratory and widely attended. Look for Askew’s next showcase on October 23, featuring John Valby, also known as Dr. Dirty, a comic musician known for his obscene song parodies. How lucky are we in Little Rhody to have this gem, a living room for building careers and getting some good laughs simultaneously!

Comedy Open Mic at Askew, Tue 7pm (Doors open at 6, sign up sheet is out at 6:30), 150 Chestnut St, Providence, RI

#ME THREE, An Alternate Review by Richard J. Griffin*

Me Three: A Guide to New Beginnings at Daydream Theater (Credit: Richard Griffin)
Me Three: A Guide to New Beginnings at Daydream Theater
(Credit: Richard Griffin)

After having a delicious pre-theater meal at Cafe Cazzata (try the Chicken Bocchino, it’s to die for) with my life partner, Troy, we decided to jet over to historic Woonsocket, Rhode Island, to see Lenny Schwartz’s newest screwball farce, #MeThree: A Guide To New Beginnings. Now, Troy, being German, typically prefers more highbrow theater like Antigone and Natalie Needs A Nightie, but after a hard week of writing theater reviews, I needed something more frothy and, well, just plain fun!

Lenny, as you may know, is the master of writing bioplays like The Inside of His Severed Head: The Vic Morrow Story and The Man Who Saw Snoopy, which from what I could gather, was about the life of the father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud. But this time, Lenny paints the stage with nothing but laughs, mistaken identities, pies in the face, and — in the case of the hunky leading man Derek Laurendeau, cross-dressing! Which brings up a very important point about #MeThree, that even though the guffaws, we must not laugh at those damned souls who choose to wear women’s clothing. This is America after all, and if a man wants to look like a walking abomination to the Lord in a black cocktail dress, then God forbid I should judge.

Where was I? Oh yes. #MeThree is a zany romantic comedy where the studly Mr. Laurendeau, who plays Hank, a newspaper writer, has started a fiery love affair with the beautiful and talented Jamie Lyn Bagley, who plays the role of THE WOMAN. In this battle of the sexes, Schwartz lets his young lovers take off the gloves and give themselves a brutal, bloody beating of the heart. For Derek’s character, it’s a case of the old “Women, you can’t live with ‘em, you can’t ship them off to live in a prison colony!” Laurendeau and Bagley shine like shiny things in their roles, and their sexual tension was almost too uncomfortable for some people in the audience, who fled for the exits never to be seen again before intermission. I, personally, roared with laughter during the eight-minute scene where Jamie Lyn continually kneed Derek in the groin while Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture” played to hysterically funny effect!

But nothing is fair in love and community theater, so along comes the evil corporate tycoon, Mr. HOLLYWOOD, who was THE WOMAN’s former lover when she worked at Electric Boat. Played with evil aplomb by stage veteran Michael Thurber (you’ll all remember when he won that Medal of Valor during the war between The Ocean State Theater Company and The Arctic Playhouse in 2009), he comes in during the second act to break up this love affair! Hank wants things between him and THE WOMAN to be ME TOO, but the evil Mr. HOLLYWOOD wants it to be ME THREE! While Mr. Thurber is at his wicked best here, I thought the 30-minute “Tribute to Liberace” interlude he performed was a bit much for my already taxed bladder.

Act Three is mostly taken up with the arrival of the British Pigeon sisters, with both roles played by Sarah Reed, in her 230th play this year in Rhode Island. She brings a wonderful energy to her scenes, and is a sexy foil to the more laid-back Oscar and the always nervous Felix!

I would like to spend an entire paragraph now talking about Derek Laurendeau. Derek is a fine young actor with luscious pillowy lips who I’ve seen in dozens of plays in New England over the past few years. He truly knows how to command a scene. His performance shines here, and he exudes a raw, almost primal sexuality. With every line he utters with his masculine, deep voice, you’ll quiver with delight! I was only disappointed in one aspect of the show, and that is that Mr. Laurendeau never removed his shoes and socks (even though there were many opportunities to do so), while a spotlight lovingly caresses every hill and valley of his feet. I hope future directors will take note of this criminal oversight.

Dan Martin throws a lot of pies around the stage and screams a lot. Personally, I didn’t like his use of four-letter words, and it made me profoundly uncomfortable to have to explain to Troy what a “blumpkin” was.

At one point during the show, during Jamie Lyn’s show-stopping performance of “Tomorrow Belongs to Me,” someone dressed in a Spiderman costume fell from the catwalk and crashed onto the stage floor. This provided the biggest laugh of the night!

Victoria Paradis is delightful doing her one-woman tribute to Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Starlight Express, which just happens to be Troy’s favorite bit of intellectual theater.

Anastasia LaFrance plays Queen Mary the Second, and I didn’t understand her at all. But I’ve never really understood women … I mean who does?

But what is Lenny Schwartz trying to say with #MeThree? What is the message? What is the deeper meaning? Personally, I think Lenny was saying, “Look at me! I’m funny! I’m a funny man making with the slamming doors, and the screaming, and the pies in the face!” Your interpretation may vary, but I highly doubt it. For those of you looking for a night out at the theater — in Woonsocket — you could do a lot worse than #MeThree!

Daydream Theater at the RISE Playhouse presents Lenny Schwartz’s #Me Three: A Guide to New Beginnings, through April 27. 142 Clinton St, Woonsocket.

*Richard J. Griffin was born in Westerly, Rhode Island in 1955. He currently lives in the good section of Cranston with his life partner Troy Müller. Together they enjoy growing their prize roses, wine tasting and fighting over who will take the dominant role in the bedroom.

Editor’s Note: Richard J. Griffin is affiliated with the #Me Three production and writes in response to an earlier review, which can be seen here: motifri.com/daydream-methree