Some secrets are very hard to keep.
On Tuesday, my wife and I were walking down Sixth Street on our way to Local 149, because my wife was craving a cheeseburger and I am always craving a cheeseburger. My phone rang and it was my friend and manager Ryan, who is also a producer of Capo Comedy Night. He had some amazing news for me: Bill Burr would likely be stopping into Capo to work on some new material.
We decided to keep it a secret for a multitude of reasons. First and foremost, he could easily cancel. The Celtics had a home playoff game Wednesday night and Burr is a huge sports fan. Also, Burr wanted to work on new stuff and a promoted appearance implies a polished and crafted performance. Another reason was, the entire point of a surprise drop in, is that it’s a surprise. I played it as cool as I could. As I ended the call, I tried to mentally erase what had just happened, so I could just relax and enjoy a cheeseburger and tater tots.
Bill Burr makes me nervous. I have met and worked with a lot of famous people in my years in show business and I don’t get star struck very often, but my respect and admiration for Burr is insanely high. I think most comedians, especially those of us in Boston, would agree. I have followed him basically my entire life since seeing him at a fundraiser here as a kid. Then in NYC comedy clubs as a college kid, followed by small theaters as his fame grew, and now into the global superstar he has become.
I have had the pleasure to share the stage with him three times, once even opening for him at Laugh Boston. My time alone with him in the green room, simply talking comedy, is something I will never forget.
That doesn’t mean I don’t feel like an ass almost every time we are in a room together. All of a sudden I feel like I am back in high school trying to make small talk with a popular girl and all I can do is stutter and stammer while sweating from my palms and eyelids. It’s all needless because Burr is one of the nicest guys out there.
True to form, he arrived at Capo right when he said he would, alone and without an entourage. Some heads turned as he entered the room, but with his hat low and his non-big-time demeanor, he blended in pretty well. He made his way to the green room, shook some hands and the man who will be the first comedian ever to headline Fenway Park, sat down next to some of Boston’s newest comedians and began to look over his notes.
As comics began to come off stage Burr complimented each one. I was busy hosting but when I looked into the green room, he was chatting with comedians, and generally making instant memories with young comics they will fondly remember and retell for decades to come. Most likely with exaggerated facts.
Then it was time for me to bring him on stage. I must admit, this was what I had been looking forward to. I could not wait to see the audience’s reaction to one of the top comedians in the world randomly appearing at a Wednesday night comedy show in a Southie basement. The Capo faithful did not disappoint. They went crazy for him and there were moments of uproarious laughter as well as brilliant silence where you could hear your own heartbeat in your ears.
I won’t comment on the material. As a comedian it was amazing to see his work in its early stages, as well as his thoughts working themselves out in real time. What I will say is, I highly recommend you get a ticket to see Bill Burr at Fenway Park on Aug 21, because it will be a show unlike any other. After his set, Burr apologized to stunned young comedians for “bumping them and taking up so much time” and then left to go smoke cigars with another iconic figure, Tony V.
The moral of this story is, you never know who will drop in at Capo. We have had legends and we have had comics who did it twice and quit comedy. We weekly have comedians with national television appearances, tik tok superstars, and also just open mic-ers who I think are funny and have a bright future. Capo Comedy Night is everything beautiful and real about comedy, and I am thankful to John Tobin Presents and Capo for producing it and allowing me to run it.
Also, Wednesday is all you can eat pasta night and I love pasta.
Photo by Capo bartender and photographer Christopher Rusk
Will Noonan was once named the Best Comedian in Boston and has starred in over 30 commercials. He’s an avid bowler and Cumby’s regular.
As an new comic who has done Capo twice thanks to Laugh University and Will , this had to be an epic night ,, such a great venue and to have the local superstar like that “swing through” is why you never know who can be anywhere at anytime ,, great article Will …. Your showcase is top notch ,,, I appreciate this mic …