The first time Adam Hatch tried his hand at stand-up comedy, he got onstage at the Comedy Connection in Portland, did his material, left the stage and promptly realized that those five minutes were a blur. In the five years since, he has honed his game, but as many comics will tell you — the first time you do stand-up, you’re terrified.
“I don’t even remember those five minutes. I was so excited and nervous,” said Hatch, 24. “But apparently it was well-received, because I’ve gone back there multiple times now. That’s how I met Erik.”
The Erik in question is Erik Gundersen, a fellow comedian and a Bangor native, as is Hatch. Both Gundersen and Hatch have done stand-up comedy for several years, sharpening their skills throughout Maine and New England. Both will perform, along with five other Maine and New England comedians, at the first-ever Comedy Riot, 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 13, at Jeff’s Catering in Brewer.
The Comedy Connection, one of Maine’s strictly comedy venues, has been a training ground for many regional comedians, and all the acts featured at the Comedy Riot have done sets there multiple times. The Comedy Riot was Gundersen’s idea, after deciding he wanted to bring his act back to his hometown for a change, and get out of his current home base of Portland.
“I wanted to do something in town for my friends and family, but it’s turned out to be much bigger than that,” said Gundersen, 26. “It’s become a showcase for a lot of local talent. There are a lot of people around here who are really funny, talented comedians.”
Both Gundersen and Hatch believe there’s a market for stand-up comedy in Bangor, but that there’s no good venue in which comedians can do their thing.
“No one wants to do stand-up in a bar or restaurant, because you’re competing with the Red Sox or people trying to talk or hit on each other,” said Gundersen. “You need a place where people are coming to see comedy, and that’s it. I think comedy up in Bangor has been approached the wrong way. If we had a regular place to do it, I think you’d see people come out.”
Besides Gundersen and Hatch, Milford-based comedian Travis “Bull” Cowing will perform, along with the Portland-based Stephanie Anne Doyle, Biddeford comedian Ben Fogg, and Boston comics Dan Burgess and Nick Chambers. All seven are a little different from one another.
“Ben does this really hilarious music act, and then you’ve got Stephanie, who starts off talking about how she’s a lesbian, and comes from that perspective. Nick does some crazy impersonations,” said Hatch. “Then you’ve got me and Erik, who do more observational humor. We all have pretty different styles.”
The two biggest names in Maine comedy — Bob Marley and George Hamm — have vast fan bases across the state. But both Marley and Hamm do comedy that’s based on experiences Mainers have. Both might do different material in other parts of the country, but in Maine, audiences have come to expect jokes about life in the Pine Tree State. For Gundersen, that expectation has made it a little harder for him, as his jokes rarely have to do specifically with Maine.
“So much of comedy is about how your audience relates to your humor. I don’t do ‘Maine’ humor because there’s so much more that I can talk about,” said Gundersen. “There a fine line between making yourself marketable, and still doing things that you really like and find funny and make you yourself laugh.”
Presales for tickets for Friday’s show have been strong, which makes Gundersen think that a second Comedy Riot might be in the works.
“There are lots more people who wanted to do this show, but who couldn’t, for whatever reason,” said Gundersen. “I can definitely see a second show happening.”
The first-ever Comedy Riot, sponsored by Northeast Facilities Management, is set for 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 13, at Jeff’s Catering in Brewer. Doors open at 7 p.m. and a party continues after the show, starting at 10 p.m. Tickets are $12 at the door. For information, call 974-8508.