Comedians help out in Carbondale
CARBONDALE, Colorado” There’s hardly any snow on the slopes. The economy’s in the can. And Thanksgiving with the family will be here before we know it. As stand-up comedian Mark Thomas sees it, it’s time for a little humor.
“I don’t know if you’ve ever been to that place where you’re laughing so hard it hurts,” he said. “That’s like a joy-gasm.”
He’ll be happy to provide multiple ones this Saturday.
During “Coats for Comedy,” he, alongside three other valley stand-ups, will deliver a night of homegrown hilarity. Considering that it doubles as a coat drive for Feed My Sheep and takes place in Carbondale, one of the gentlest towns around, it’s hard to imagine the show will be anything short of a well-attended success. But Thomas knows there’s no real guarantee. When he steps on stage, nothing is for sure. He could try a joke about birthday candles made out of recycled bikini wax, perhaps, and have it fall completely flat.
“I tell you what, when it works, though, it’s like nude body surfing in warm Jell-O,” he said.
For all his colorful explanations, he hasn’t been doing this as you might think. A relative stand-up greenhorn, he began the art in 2005 on a total whim. As a former news reporter in Southern California and television personality in Aspen, he’d already gotten a little bit over the fear of speaking in public, and had always wanted to try his hand at comedy. When there was a SoCal audition for the Aspen Comedy Arts Festival, he went for it, writing his jokes on the car ride over. He was one of 250 or so trying out, and he didn’t make it in. His appetite was sure whetted, though. Soon after, he moved back to this valley, his old home, and made it into the now-defunct comedy troupe, Laugh Your Aspen Off. He’s been joking, on a professional level, ever since.
“Before then I was just a smart ass,” he said. “But when you get a microphone, you’re a stand-up comic.”
There might only be a small difference between the two, but this Glenwood guy is reveling in it. After Laugh folded, he continued to get himself out there as a comedy entity, performing at shows and events around the valley. In 2007, he began Comedy Mercenary Productions, through which he’s put on about a dozen shows, including this next one. In just a few years, it seems, he’s managed to fold himself into a true comedy community around here.
He described his fellow funny people, starting with Beth Brandon, who amazes him. While she’s also an actor, he thinks she’s really a comedian at heart. He admires Bob Richmond’s “really solid” and “very dry” stage presence ” as well as his crew cut. He likened local family lawyer Stacy Feinberg’s personality to early Roseanne Barr and a bit of Judy Tenuta. Thomas sees his own work as very observational and a little thought-provoking. It may not be nasty, but it’s certainly adult.
Though they probably don’t have much in common in their everyday life, Thomas knows all four of can agree on at least one thing. They’re in the love with that risky rush that only stand-up can provide.
“This is our drug, laughter,” he said.
And he sounded like he was jonesing for his next fix.
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