Vail Comedy Show expands to offer two nights of comedy
The popular show will be putting on two nights of stand-up comedy at Bridge Street Bar on Wednesday and Thursday
Ever since the Vail Comedy Show moved to Bridge Street Bar in September, it has been selling out tickets to its stand-up comedy shows each month. With the popularity of the shows increasing, founder Mark Masters has decided to expand it by adding two performances in both December and January.
“In November, we sold out the day before the show, which is the first time we’ve ever sold out that wasn’t the day of, and we have this long sellout streak going,” Masters said. “So, in December, we’re going to do two shows, so that more locals can laugh and enjoy the Vail Comedy Show.”
This week, the show will take place at 7 p.m. on both Wednesday, Dec. 15 and Thursday, Dec. 16. The headlining acts for both nights will remain the same, while the opening act will shift between two local comedians.
The headliner for this week’s performances is Kevin Bennett, who is better known by the name of the character that he assumes when on stage: French Accent. When performing as French Accent, Bennett dons a beret, an eye patch and an accordion, and tells quick-firing one-liner jokes and stories in a heavily exaggerated French accent.
Bennett said that doing character comedy – particularly one as visual and auditory as French Accent – allows him to form an immediate connection with the audience.
“It’s a veneer that allows me to engage people directly, without the conscious mind getting in the way,” Bennett said. “The character – especially if you haven’t seen it before – it sucks you in a little bit, and you can’t think about anything else but what’s going on. That allows me to be more entertaining, to actually communicate and reach them, whereas if I’m doing normal standup they just see a guy up there doing what they’ve seen before and so they immediately start comparing.”
Bennet plays little riffs on the accordion as a transition between jokes, and the pure ridiculous nature of a midwestern American playing old-timey accordion riffs while speaking in a heavy french accent adds an extra layer of hilarity to everything he says.
“It’s sort of like a get-out-of-jail-free card,” Bennett said. “If I screw up a joke, then I just look really nervous, wait a second, and then play the accordion a little bit, and everyone is like ‘well alright, that was funny.’”
His tactful use of the accordion and his ability to work a crowd stands out most clearly in his performance on the national television show America’s Got Talent in 2018. While he didn’t make it past the first auditions, he managed to get the whole crowd laughing and cheering for him, to the point where two of the judges actually reversed their original negative decision. It wasn’t enough to get through to the next round, but it introduced the world to French Accent.
Bennett said he is particularly excited to be playing a small local club for the sense of camaraderie and connection that rooms like Bridge Street Bar create.
“If you go to what’s called a conventional club, like The Improv or Laugh Factory, there are a bunch of rules, and there’s a group of comedy gatekeepers there,” Bennett said. “Sometimes they’re not that bad – sometimes they’re complete cheese weasels – but with a local room that’s run by somebody who’s passionate about comedy and is seeking to create a brand, what you’re going to find is that there’s not a cliquey environment. There’s instead a kind of a camaraderie, and you can do more things. It’s a lot more fun, and it’s a lot more of an in-depth personal experience.”
The other comedian who will be performing both nights is Stephanie McHugh, also out of Denver.
McHugh had first experienced the power of comedy when she was in middle school. A close friend of hers had an alcoholic father, and McHugh found that she was able to completely change the negative environment that he created by making him laugh.
“I just love laughter,” McHugh saiad. “It can change the tone of the room. Going back to when I was 13, when we were at my best friend’s house, and her dad was being combative and verbally abusive – laughter could change the tone of the room just like that.”
McHugh knew that she had a talent for making people laugh, but she only tried stand-up for the first time in her mid-30s.
“I didn’t have anyone that I knew in the audience, I just went and I did it,” McHugh said. “Then the second time I did it, my husband at the time came and a couple of friends, and it was horrible. It was like childbirth. The first time, you kind of don’t know what to expect. You know it’s going to be possibly traumatic but you just keep an open mind. But the second time, I knew what to expect – when I had a baby and when I got on stage. So it was nerve-wracking, but again, you just get used to it and figure it out, you know?”
Just nine months after her first time on stage, McHugh won a trip to the Las Vegas Comedy Festival and has now been on the Denver comedy scene for over 17 years. She bases her comedy on events and experiences from her own life, and has been able to connect with audiences around the country through regular stand-up performances, stints on cruise ships and an appearance on Nick at Nite’s TV Show “America’s Funniest Mom”.
McHugh is also the co-founder of the MentalPause Comedy Show and “The Twilight Moan Podcast – Laughter, Love and Sex After 50”. She is looking forward to being in front of a live audience after a year of online shows.
“I’m just so excited to be performing in-person in Vail, because I’ve done Zoom comedy,” McHugh said. “Live comedy is like a hot fudge sundae: it’s cool and warm at the same time. Zoom comedy online is like a fruitcake. It’s a little dry, and there are a few more nuts than I would prefer, but it worked in a pinch.”
The opener on Wednesday night is Jacob Jonas, an animated and eccentric comedian based out of Denver. Jonas is an up-and-coming comic who has performed at a number of national venues, including Savage Henry Comedy Festival, Best Comedy Show Denver Fringe Festival and Gotham Comedy Club.
“Jacob discusses a variety of topics ranging from personal anecdotes of hilarity to large scale historical socio-political trends in a distinct absurdist fashion,” reads his bio on the Deadroom Comedy team page. “Jacob’s style of comedy is dark yet is presented with quick wit and strong punchlines that leaves the audience wanting more.”
On Thursday night, Kyle Ruff, the owner and producer of Steamboat Comedy and the “Steamboat Comedy Podcast”, will be opening the show. Ruff has performed at the Porcupine Freedom Festival (Porcfest) in New Hampshire, the Chillderburg Liberty Event in Texas and as a headliner at the Chief Theater in Steamboat Springs.
Masters will also be performing his own stand-up set both nights this week.
Tickets are now available at vailcomedyshow.com starting at $25 per person. Attendees must be 21 years or older to enter the venue. Drinks will be available for purchase at the bar.
What: Vail Comedy Show
When: Wed, Dec. 15 and Thurs, Dec. 16 at 7 p.m.
Where: Bridge Street Bar in Vail Village
Price: Starting at $25. Tickets can be purchased online at vailcomedyshow.com