Foolery, laughs planned at April Fool' comedy show

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NORTH ADAMS — This Friday night, a crew of regional comedians are reclaiming April Fools' Day.

"A Night of Fools: Uncensored!" kicks off at 8 p.m. at the new Common Folk Artist Collective space located at 18 Holden St.

The lineup of funny people includes: North County's stand-up comedian Mark Jagiello and humorist Seth Brown; Mo Haskins, host of Albany's comedy open mic at The Lark Tavern; musical funny guy Adam Tobin; and from Pittsfield, comedic storyteller Madelyn Gardner and Comedy Hour of Power/Laugh Lounge host Thomas Attila Lewis. Each performer will do approximately 15-minute sets, completely uncensored, to condense a month's worth of comedic talent into one night at an intimate setting (only 50 tickets available).

Common Folk co-founder and creative director, Jessica "Sweens" Sweeney, said the cultural organization wanted to try something different and reached out to Brown to help curate the cast.

"When we realized April Fools' Day was on a Friday, [hosting] 'A Night of Fools' just seemed like a perfect fit," she said. "People should go mainly because we are showcasing some amazingly talented comedians ... And also because we have a really comfy couch, so if you want dibs on it you have to get there early."

Brown said the event will give audience members an encore of what some of the performers (Brown, Jagiello, Lewis) did at the recent and successful "High Mud Comedy Fest" at Mass MoCA. And, it's at an extreme fraction of the price — tickets to A Night of Fools are $5, with additional donations welcome to support programming and artists at Common Folk.

"It will be a nice, diverse evening of comedy," Brown said, referring not only to the backgrounds of the comedians but also each individual's sense of humor and comedic stylings.

Brown himself has a background in improv comedy and humor writing, in addition to stand-up.

He said that in a world of podcasts, Internet memes and YouTube videos meant to titillate the funny bone, "There's something special about going out and seeing a live comedic performance. It depends a lot on the audience reaction and energy in the room, so there's a sort of magic to the live performance too."

Based in Adams, where he lives with his wife and 4-year-old daughter, Mark Jagiello's shares the everyday humor in life while performing throughout New England and New York City, on main stages and in between sets of punk rock shows.

Mo Haskins has also been touring over the past decade, up and down the East Coast, and opening for the likes of Rain Pryor, Myq Kaplan and Pete Holmes. His comedy open mic night at The Lark Tavern is one of the longest running in New York's Capital Region.

Northern Berkshires' Adam Tobin, according to his show bio, "does his own laundry, and watches rated R movies," and "also meddles with the art of sweet, soft tunes, music that will make your fingers tingle and your heart jig." It'll be a song and dance routine where anything goes.

Madelyn Gardner is a Pittsfield transplant from New Jersey who has been involved with theater projects at Barrington Stage Company, and currently works with Berkshire Theatre Group. She said it was the desire to help promote Common Folk that's luring her to Friday night's stage.

"Jessica Sweeney has been pushing me to try my hand in stand-up for a while, and I had mentioned that I would do something for Common Folk. Next thing you know there are posters of me around town in a cat onesie promoting this wonderful evening of comedy," Gardner said, referring to her image on an event poster.

Asked about the style of comedy she's developing as a newcomer, she said, "I'm a story teller. I'm one of those people who likes to over-share every single detail of their life. I'll be at the grocery store and the clerk, trying to be polite, will ask me how my day was, and the next thing you know 30 minutes has passed and I'm telling her about how I peed my pants in second grade and why I think SeaWorld should be shut down."

Thomas Attila Lewis said he's glad to join a "great lineup" on a day when whole towns once "set aside for tomfoolery."

According to History.com, from the 1700s and evidenced earlier, the world's cultures have found it beneficial and entertaining to joke with and prank each other, while modern times have unleashed incredible and elaborate hoaxes onto society.

Compared with a pie in the face or walking through a cracked open door only to get a bucket of water dumped on your head, "stand-up is a little safer," said Lewis, although he noted it does prompt some audience members to feel offended.

"But anyone can choose to be offended at any point, by anything, in any space," he said. "The only difference is you're choosing to be in this space, so if you don't like it, you can walk out the door."

Lewis added: "A good joke starts with the expectation from the story being set up for you by the comedian, then having the carpet pulled out from underneath you by means of a linguistic or political or other kind of twist. It's about the build up of wondering what the reaction will be followed by the release by laughing. Laughing resets your brain on that idea or issue that's presented to you."

Gardner agreed and said, "There's ALWAYS time to have a laugh! I am a big believer in laughing your troubles away."

Brown, who recently held his final "THIRDsday Comedy Open Mic Night" at The Parlor Cafe in North Adams — due to, he said, the cafe scaling back hours — hopes "A Night of Fools" is received in good jest and prompts more demand and interest in live comedy in the Berkshires region.

"Stand-up offers a wide range of viewpoints and style ... ideas and truth are most palatable through comedy," said Brown. "Comedy is a really neat way not only to entertain, but also a nice way to address things in a way you might not otherwise."

He added, "And there are two things the world needs more of: laughter and happiness."

If You Go ...

What: "A Night of Fools: Uncensored!" to benefit the Common Folk Artist Collective. Comedians include Seth Brown, Mark Jagiello, Mo Haskins, Adam Tobin, Madelyn Gardner and Thomas Attila Lewis.

When: 8 p.m. Friday

Where: Common Folk, 18 Holden St., North Adams.

Cost: Tickets are $5 at the door or online at https://www.artful.ly/store/events/8745

More info: facebook.com/wearecommonfolk


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