Standing up

By JEFF INGLIS  |  March 29, 2006

She met up with Tom Manning, owner of Liquid Blue, at a point when he was thinking about how to “build a comedy scene,” he says. And for a year Liquid Blue has had a stand-up comedy show on Saturday nights. The audience grew so big in the first summer that late that season, Manning added a Friday–night show as well. (On the other nights, Liquid Blue offers a DJ and dancing.)

Perry is a regular at Manning’s club, as wells as at the open-mic nights held every other week Acoustic Coffee, on Danforth Street. “When I meet the national comics, they tell me, ‘go out and do what you’re doing, play any stage you can,’” he says.

Perry spent about a year at the Connection after graduating from Ferrell’s class, but by the end he, like Pooler, found himself reduced to a single five-minute gig each month. So he, too, looked elsewhere for an audience.

At about the same time, Brinegar, just arrived from California, got a good audience response in the Portland’s Funniest Professional contest, sponsored every year by the Comedy Connection — but was disqualified for going over the five-minute time limit. Five minutes may not seem like much, but it’s a daunting task to keep a crowd amused — let alone laughing — for that length of time.

He considered taking Ferrell’s class as an entree to stage time at the Connection, after being told it had no open-mic nights, and no opportunity for would-be comics to bring paying customers to the club in exchange for five minutes with the microphone.

“I didn’t want to sink money and time” — both of which he says were in short supply — into the $300 eight-week class with no sure “return on investment.” So Brinegar ended up at Acoustic Coffee, where he met Perry and Pooler, as well as Ian Harvie, a Bridgton native with ties to the Connection. Harvie got a gig there for Brinegar, who also began performing at some of the “satellite” clubs the Connection books, like Spectators Sports Bar in Sanford. He has since reconnected with Pooler, and become an independent comedian booking some shows for himself and others through Pooler’s Laugh Your Ass Off agency.

Not all comedians leave the Connection. Karen Morgan, a Cumberland mother of three and a former attorney, started out in Ferrell’s class and then did well in the Portland’s Funniest Professional show in 2004. She was a 2005 finalist (and 2006 semi-finalist) in Nick at Nite’s “America’s Funniest Mom” competition, an annual reality-TV show and national search for mothers who are good comedians.

Like many Comedy Connection regulars, Morgan has never even been to a comedy show at a competing venue. She hosts a Wednesday night showcase at the Connection, which continued through the winter this year, partly in response to the number of people who want to get up on stage, says club owner Keithly. This summer, he will for the first time open a Tuesday-night showcase as well.

Morgan, who also is part of a trio of comedian-moms called “Mama’s Night Out,” says the Connection is “a really really good room” to work in, and preaches patience for those who wish to “make it big.”

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Banned? By Jeff Inglis.
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