'An exciting time' for Berkshires' own McQueen

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PITTSFIELD, MASS. — He's toured with Adam McKay, Will Ferrell and Chris Henchy's "Funny or Die." He's the founder of Comedy Central's "Heads will Roll" Snapchat series. And he's the centerpiece act to the Berkshire Family YMCA's "Weekend to Change Lives."

And with any luck, you might see him on television.

This Saturday, Pittsfield native Jesse "McQueen" Adams will headline the "Wine, Stein & Punchlines" wine/beer tasting and comedy show at the Berkshire Hills Country Club at 8:15 p.m. Tickets are $25, and all proceeds will go directly to the YMCA.

"It's super cool to do this for the YMCA," Adams said. "The Y keeps building, and doing more stuff for the community."

According to Berkshire YMCA CEO and Executive Director Randy Kinnas, all proceeds will go to financial assistance programs, such as sending kids to camp, something Kinnas admits can cost the YMCA as much as $2,500 per child. According to Kinnas, Adams was the first person he asked to headline the comedy show, and was met with a resounding "yes."

"We knew each other growing up," Kinnas said of McQueen. "That's the beauty of it — [despite the fame], he's still the same person you grew up with."

Adams will unite with New York-based comedian Greg Barris, who will open for him. The pair was slated to both perform earlier this year during the Firefly Gastropub & Catering Co.'s "San Pedro," multimedia comedy cabaret, but it never happened due to changes leading up to the show. Regardless, McQueen expressed his excitement at working with Barris and performing in Berkshire County in general.

"It's so cool to perform in Berkshire County," Adams said. "Lots of the best crowds are in places like Berkshire County. People appreciate it."

Adams acknowledged the difference between performing in a city on tour, and in the Berkshires, describing the city as having more of a "fan presence," in the audience, while Berkshires are more comprised of people who just want to check out what is going on in the community, which he appreciates.

Whenever he comes home, he is never treated any differently by family and friends, regardless of his accomplishments or aspirations.

"[In the Berkshires], you are who you are," Adams said.

And his aspirations are lofty. Adams hopes to host his own TV Show on Comedy Central, using his Snapchat show as a pilot to kick that project off.

"Back in the day, you'd shoot a pilot for a TV show," he said. "Over the years, they figured out that you can use social media to do shows, to test them out."

The average Snapchat show lasts for no longer than a minute or two, as opposed to a television program, which is usually between 18 and 21 minutes long for a half-hour slot. Adams admits that this provided many creative obstacles for him and his team.

"[With each episode], we wanted to make it the best 1 minutes we could," Adams said. "We thought that music would play best with this format, as good music gets stuck in your head. A lot of Snapchat shows get over 2 million views and [replayability] plays into that."

The biggest obstacle McQueen faced was how to develop his voice in such a short format.

"In a TV show, you have a lot of time to really develop your voice," Adams said. "Which is really hard to do in a minute."

Adams cites one instance of a Snapchat show developing into a television program — "Hood Adjacent with James Davis," which started out as the Snapchat program "Swag-A-Saurus," which Adams hopes to follow suit. During its run, "Swag-A-Saurus" was Comedy Central's most popular Snapchat series.

And when he's not focusing on making people laugh, Adams is working on his first album.

"I just have a lot of stuff going on," he said. "It's an exciting time."

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