Monday Night Comedy at Capo is turning two years old in May, and it’s only gaining steam in the local comedy world. For those who’ve never attended the Supper Club on a Monday night, it’s a treat: the dark, subterranean space has a speakeasy feel about it (including jazz music by the The JP Heston Trio), and the full Capo menu provides choice food and drink. Then, the real fun begins.
Comedy veteran and Southie resident Will Noonan takes the stage and delivers a few well-developed chestnuts (there’s one about Dunkin Donuts that kills) and maybe some new Southie character sketches. Then, four to six different standups go on, with styles ranging from broadly funny to totally oddball. The setup embraces the different types of comedy output that exist today, from podcasters to pop-up series to video bloggers. The experience is always different and never, ever boring.
Noonan compares the room to The Comedy Cellar in New York, in a smaller, more local way, of course—the savvy audience committed and ready to be supportive, the younger comics visibly working some new idea that might pay off, the veteran at ease with the room. “Out of town comedians will say that it doesn’t feel like a Monday at all,” he explains.
The audience can vary from long-time locals, to new transplants (guilty as charged—I head to comedy night at least once a month), to the occasional celebrity. Noonan says they’ve seen Patriots and Red Sox players as well as coaches slip downstairs from time to time.
Mike Whitman, who’s there nearly once a week, has an unusual, deliberately awkward yet profoundly funny style that works well for the venue. He sums up what makes the creative energy unique: “I get to try weird stuff—if two things work and two things don’t, it’s like unwrapping a new Christmas present. If a comedian’s not allowed to breathe onstage, nothing cool will come out of it. Capo feels like our room, and that’s huge.”
Tricia Auld explains that the host ultimately makes the environment. “Will’s one of my favorite people in Boston comedy. He roots for other comedians to do well, and audiences leave wanting to be his new friend.
“Performing standup is only as fun as the room that you’re in, and every time I perform at Capo I leave wanting to be back the following week. Capo’s the place I go on Monday nights—if I want to put a bra on—even if I’m not performing.”
Initially, Capo began Monday Night Comedy as a three-month experiment in 2017 to provide new local entertainment over the summer, but it was such a hit that it continues year-round, including during football season and over most holidays.
When Noonan was approached to do the show by producer John Tobin Presents, he’d just moved to the area, which was growing. “I thought, Southie could use a weekly comedy show. And I do think it’s the best non-weekend comedy show in the city.
“Late night shows film during the week, so if someone from Boston is going to do Conan, Fallon, or Colbert, they usually come to Capo on Monday and do it there first. It’s one of the only places in the city where they can do that set in front of a real crowd.”
Comedians who are touring nationally and happen to be in the area may also stop by, from Jay Hollingsworth to Dan Boulger to Joe Wong. That’s also part of the learning experience for young comedians, to watch someone who knows what they’re doing kill it.
AJ Glagolev, a relatively new comedian, explains, “You don’t feel like an outsider, and they’ll let you know things you need to be working on or are doing well.”
Glagolev underscores the fact that a Monday night show is both rare for a local gig and surprisingly full of potential. “Audiences are there to extend their weekend, let off a little steam after a long Monday, and are ready to laugh—if you’re funny. They expect great quality, and if you can get a bit to work there, you know it’s got legs to work pretty much everywhere else.”
Comics say they’ve developed and honed bits there that have gone on to be part of their larger, more finessed acts. And if a comic develops traction with the audience, it can inspire them to make repeat visits to the Supper Club. New material might not always be a hit, but perseverance can help new comedians stand out and figure out what works.
Newer comic Andrew Della Volpe explains that the first time he went on stage, he was hanging out in the back with other local comics and hadn’t even planned to go on. “A year later, when I take the stage, Will introduces me as a regular and favorite. It’s one of my proudest comedy achievements.”
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