The Scene: High Mud Comedy Fest brings laughs just at the right time

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NORTH ADAMS — The definition of mud is what dirt (mixture of soils) turns to after a heavy rain, which seems to characterize the well-seasoned mix of local and national comedians in their candid and "not suited to those under the age of 16" performances in the High Mud Comedy Fest at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art throughout the weekend.

The event was curated by local and regional comic Thomas Attila Lewis and sponsored by The Porches Inn.

Among lush red velvet curtains and the dotting of candlelit round tables laced in nostalgic Bazooka bubble gum, the laughs were bountiful and plenty as the vast Hunter Center was transformed to accommodate and entertain the people of Berkshire County and beyond.

The event began on Friday evening and went into the wee hours of Saturday night with a full cast of popular local, regional and nationally noted comedians and Dave Hill hosting the lineup of stand-ups as follows on Saturday night: Jenny Rubin, Dylan Carlino, Julie Kottakis, Ian Fidance, Jordan Carlos and Phoebe Robinson.

Saturday night was a full house with tickets sold at admission fees ranging from $12 up to $75 for preferred passes.

Saturday's itinerary kicked off at 3 p.m. with a Comic Workshop titled Comedy in the Time of Trump led by Jordan Carlos who was recently nominated as Best Male Comic of the Year by ECNY (Emerging Comedians of New York). At 4 p.m. High Maintenance Webisodes followed by comedic museum tours with live music by Common Folk Fools.

Mass MoCA's Director of Communications Jodie Joseph commented on the event, "Escapism comes in the form of live comedy, taking shape as comedian-led museum tours, absurdist beer tastings, and local and national comedians providing hours and hours of laughs — tackling everything from politics to parenting to Applebee's. We're still laughing at Dave Hill's erotic poems, Phoebe Robinson's adventures in NYC-dating ... Cooler than that was seeing friends like Maggie Crane from Williamstown and Tom Lewis from Lenox win the crowd with their slightly bawdy, entirely hilarious humor."

And speaking of humor and bawdy good fun, taking tickets on Saturday at Mass MoCA's main desk was the personable Box Office Coordinator John Del Sordo, Box Office Associates Cooper Gangemi and William Taylor and Intern Jacob Davis who all seemed to love their work. "This is one day you can actually make jokes on the job," said Del Sordo.

After grabbing tickets and a quick breeze through the gift shop, it was time to head over to the beer tasting just next door at the Bright Ideas Brewing Company.

There to sample the beers and give descriptive and racy commentary was comic genius, writer and musician Dave Hill, along with actor and comedian Jordan Carlos. The tasting consisted of the brewers, Orion Howard and Eric Kerns' most popular brew choices: Barleywine, Brown, Coffee Porter and the Mosaic. Their main claim: "Beer is good."

Owner Kerns bellied up to the bar and said, "We want people to come here and get a different, much looser approach to comedy." He added, "This is the largest bar in Berkshire County and milled out of a 180-year-old antique yellow pine beam from Building 6."

Stephanie Gravalesa, of Pittsfield, and Brian Bartholomew, of Glens Falls, N.Y., are happy to pose for a photo as they showcase and describe the line-up of beers. Bartholomew said, "My favorite is the Mosaic, which to me embodies a good spring day."

There to photo-bomb my pictures were Steve Dadak, of Adams, and his friend and partner in crime Glen Murray, of North Adams. "I've traveled all over the world," said Murray, "and this place is great!" His wife, Barb Murray, and friend Henry Klein are also there to pose for a photo.

Back at the Hunter Center ushering guests in was Mass MoCA volunteer Rosemarie Thomas and inside greeting the the crowd was Managing Director of Performing Arts Sue Killam who started her career there in development in 1998.

The lights dimmed and candlelight illuminated each table. And to give a taste to the crowd was comedian Dave Hill to introduce the line up, beginning with local comedian Dillon Carlino who talked about the experiences of being gay.

Next was stand up Julie Kottakis on single-mom sexcapades with her depiction of the Lifetime Channel being for women who are hurt — emphasize the word "hurt," over and over again by men.

Comic Ian Fidance made the audience laugh when he described himself as Bernie Sanders' son when all he really wanted was to be Kurt Cobain.

Next Dave Hill came out jamming on his electric guitar to a number of hilariously erotic stories with the body language to accompany.

The first was stand-up comedian Jordan Carlos who has played a recurring character on The Colbert Report and is a co-host on the Nickelodeon kids' show Me TV. Carlos made the crowd roar with with his flawless impersonations of President Trump, President Obama and President Clinton along with his thigh-slapping depictions of whale intimacy.

Author, actor and comedian Phoebe Robinson was up next and mentioned briefly about her new book, 'You Can't Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have To Explain' on race and feminism angled in a funny way that has its readers laughing out loud while in the throes of the book. She mentioned her surprise when the famed Oprah Winfrey called to tell her she loved the book and Robinson inadvertently dodged the call three times until finally speaking with her. Oprah's voicemail was played for all to hear.

After the show it was time to head over to Freight Yard Pub where owners Sean and Colleen Taylor were happy to accommodate and serve the crowd. Jacqui Boudreau and Katie Leonard of Boston sipped libations at the ba.r "We had a great time," said Boudreau, "and we love Pheobe."

Thomas Corrigan, a local entertainer performed for the crowd.

A private party was convened upstairs where funny guy Thomas Attila Lewis of Lenox collaborated on an after show of comedians. There, by a crackling fire and with warm comfort food nearby, everyone relaxed after an eventful evening.

The comedians were happy to answer questions and gather for a group photo.

The High Mud Comedy Fest at Mass MoCA kept everyone happy with a weekend packed with laughter and good times.

Meeting local and national comedians in their rise to stardom is thrilling and it was in just the right venue, where people can let their hair down and unleash their spirits. 


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