On June 9th, in the shiny town of Maplewood, within the deep enclaves of New Jersey’s suburbia, a little thing called ‘The Chuckle Patch’ happened. And starting from 8pm that evening, the audience of a near sold out show, roars of laughter erupted to approving claps, hollering, and just dastardly handsome evening out on the town. The successful return of the show (last in December 2017) to the Burgdorff Center For The Performing Arts was highly anticipated by fans. And in conjunction with the Maplewood Artist Collective working with the comedy show, the night’s entertainment buffet, didn’t let them down.
The Chuckle Patch is a stand-up comedy show produced by Scratch n’ Sniff Productions, owned and managed by duo, Abby Sher and Molly Reisner – both experienced comics and improv actors. The night’s list of comics and spoken word talents included: Lulu French, Kate Nichols, Erin McGuire, Kim Ritter Kassnove, Sally Ann Hall, Danish Maqbool – with Abby and Molly taking part as cast and MC, respectively.
We’d first gotten to know a little about The Chuckle Patch through our interview with Kate Nichols – the talented stand-up comic. She’d invited us to see what the show had to offer, for ourselves. As Maplewood is Nichols’ home town, we thought she knew a thing or two about her participation with the town and the show.
So we did.
Attend, that is.
Within the 18th century ‘feeling’ building that is The Burgdorff Center in Maplewood, there existed an open hall that suited to the likes of entertainment and the like. Within the calm of the downtown, this nestled corner for sparking comic talents and ambitions, hosted a show which wasn’t what we expected.
The raucous crowd were definite fans. They were very aware of the show, and they were ravenously ready. The show started with a small spectacle of an intro, with WWE Wrestling-esque entrance and all were ready to go.
An MC for a stand-up comedy show is a very important element to a curated show. And on this night, Molly Reisner, surely did her thing and delivered a solid buffer for the featured comics. Her comedy is smooth, with the kind of self-deprecating delight which a 10 foot tall woman (not so, but very lanky LOL) of comedy should offer. She set the right mood for the ‘entertainment-hungry’ audience, with prime laughs tackling ‘challenges’ and sometimes ‘absurd’ intricacies of life in the suburbs. Then this fiery red-head came up the stage. Erin Maguire, just like Molly, is a tall, skinny, and lanky woman’s woman, with the sharp wit of a razor. Her antics about her Broadway actor husband, their life, and ridiculousness of her idiosyncrasies, and the quirks of ‘well meaning’ male/female relationships. She was sharp, both in tongue and ‘elbows’, and she got things done on the stage. The ‘jabs’ were short and to the point, with much laughs attached to the ends. Next up were a team duo of Lulu French and Abby Shur, two improv partitioners, they had set-up an ‘Ad-Libs’ style participation session. With audience participation (via strips of written suggestions) the outcomes were of hilarity and ‘jumbled word messes’ that delight, even at our adult ages. Never gets old.
Danish Maqbool’s a comic with ‘chill’ personality and even more ‘chill’ stories to tell. And with a Pakistani heritage and family make-up, his take on sometimes complex relationships with the ‘majority’ growing up in the United States, filled the room with laughter. But there was no sharp edges or cuts to the relationship, minorities experience, for it’s what life has and is, for Danish. No worries. Kim Ritter Kassnove, then took to the stage. She’s different from the others, for she is a story-teller in the traditional sense of the phrase. And with that she is as well, a spoken-word artist, where ‘poignancy’ through long-form short essays, bring relative connections with her audience. Even with a ‘mundane’ subject like ‘loving her pet cat’, put smiles and laughter, on the proverbial table on the evening. The short ‘one-woman’ show was a delight to be had.
Kate Nichols brought her game (which we first witnessed at HAGS Comedy show down in Asbury Park) to her neck of the woods again, to please and to delight. As always she’s delightful because of the way her ‘sisterly’ voice contrasts with the kind of stories – both serious and whimsical – are delivered. And this night wasn’t any different. The crowd enjoyed the moments she depicted, and empathy with laughter was customary. If interested in her interview, go [HERE] for more.
Then came Sally Ann Hall.
The build up of the curated showcase was done right, in our eyes, for the quality of jokes and level of laughter kept on increasing to this moment with Hall. Where we thought (appropriately for the last act) blew the place open, with climactic fervor.
Originally born and raised in Alaska, and maturing further up in the state of Idaho, her quick wit and charm came to the fore. The attraction by the audience was evident and recognized quickly. And why not? With a quick ‘ice-breaker’ joke, she’d ‘Drew Barrimor-ed’ her way into the funny bones of the crowd. And along with the delivery style of a ‘truck driver’, but contrasting that with her charm and approachable ‘every-girl’, it could not be helped. The jokes were succinct, crisp, quickly tossing short ‘cringe-worthy’ stories which then were softened with irony and ‘female-vs-male’ dichotomies – the belly laughs continued until the end. She knocked it out of the park and we’re glad we witnessed one of her appearances, for sure. The recent winner of ‘Laughing Devil Comedy Festival’ and the ‘She Devil Comedy Festival’ (both based in NYC), she is certainly on her way to ‘greatness’, where ever that might be. We look forward to more of her and her acts.
The ambience within the hall, with first-time visitors and inter-town fans, the show was certainly a success. We look forward to more of what Abby and Molly will cook up next.
And we’d recommend following these talented performers, for we all need some laughter – for sure!
Maplewood Artist Collective – As residents of Maplewood, we associate ourselves with the purpose of providing a forum for artists and creatives through local events and gatherings.
Burgdorff Center For The Performing Arts – Multi-purpose community center including a 100 seat theatre and a 1600 sq feet Community Room. Suitable for classes, performances and private functions.