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Friday, May 24, 2024

Meet Four Local Acts Performing in the Last Word Comedy Festival

WILLIAMSBURG– The Last Word Comedy Festival arrives in Williamsburg Jan. 25-28 to bring laughter and joy to the region. Comedians and improv groups from far and wide will descend on the historic district, including four from the area.

WYDaily recently sat down with the four local acts as they shed light on their stand-up careers.

JMarc Perry

JMarc Perry (courtesy of JMarc Perry)

JMarc Perry began his standup career in 2017 after separating from the military. Having tried acting, a critic told him that he looked funny and that he looked like he would participate in funny stuff. After attending multiple open mic nights throughout the region, Perry realized that comedy might be the path for his life.

“When I won my first open mic night, I remember thinking to myself ‘I might be onto something here.’ Doing festivals, usually a lot of them are out of state and you have to travel a bit. Seeing one in town, I knew I absolutely had to be a part of this show here in Williamsburg,” Perry said.

With comedy returning to Williamsburg, Perry is excited to perform in the area that he calls home.

“Getting the audience to come out and to bring comedy back to Williamsburg, which will hopefully grow to even more shows, its great to do something here and to be a part of it,” Perry said.

Perry will perform on Jan. 26 at 7 p.m. on the Precarious Beer Project stage.

Brenda Heckert

Brenda Heckert (courtesy of Brenda Heckert)

Brenda Heckert grew up loving performing for family and friends. She was heavily involved in theater throughout middle and high school. Growing up with a sense of humor, Heckert often laughed at herself before allowing others to tease her.

“I was extremely homely. I had huge ears, no hair, pasty white, I found that comedy helped me a lot. I’d make jokes about myself before anyone would tease me about my big ears or whatever,” Heckert said.

Watching comedy shows growing up, Heckert was inspired by the likes of Joan Rivers, Carol Burnett, Mary Tyler Moore, Jim Carey, and Amy Schumer. While working different careers, Heckert always wanted to find a way back to the comedy scene. For her 40th birthday, she took a comedy improv class and was once again hooked.

When it comes to her material, Heckert uses the lessons that she’s learned in life to appeal to everyone.

“My material is all about my life and what is happening in my life at the time. My life has always been crazy with my son having special needs, my mother having Alzheimer’s, being a single mother, being a woman, and I had a wacky family. I got so much comedy out of my life and I feel like I found my humor through a lot of what I was going through,” Heckert said.

Heckert will perform on Jan. 26 at 7 p.m. on the Precarious Beer Project stage.

Noel Goodman

Noel Goodman (Noel Goodman)

Noel Goodman was the kid who always had drawings and doodles in his notebooks at school. With a passion for anything art-related, he knew at some point that his life would find a creative twist. After performing in his first standup show, he was hooked.

“I never thought that I would do stand-up but I always had that creative itch. I did a lot of plays growing up at different high schools. I had started looking into doing a play with the Williamsburg Players. At the time, they were doing South Pacific. I was at a restaurant one night and they had a sign for an open mic competition at a tavern in Williamsburg. I said ‘I’ll sign up, I’ll write a set, and I’ll give it a shot’ and when I showed up, I met all these comics and the show was great and I realized I had a knack for this,” Goodman said.

A man of faith, Goodman was born into a Cuban Catholic family before being adopted and raised Ashkenazi Jewish. His faith is a key part of his standup routine.

“I love expressing ideas and that’s what I love about stand-up. I get a chance to talk about how weird it was growing up and the culture shock it was. When I grew up out here, I was the only Latino in my school. I really like to talk about growing up in Williamsburg and how much I love the community and the people,” Goodman said.

Still somewhat new to comedy, Goodman is still figuring out what his brand of comedy is. That said, he is excited to showcase comedy to the Williamsburg community.

“When I heard about the festival coming to Williamsburg, I thought ‘This is great’. Comedy brings people together, people can laugh and enjoy themselves in a comedy club environment. I love that through comedy we can point out the absurdities of life and pointing out the quirks of our culture. If I’m successful as a comic, I want to continue bringing attention to those things,” Goodman said.

Goodman will perform on Jan. 27 at 7 p.m. on the Precarious Beer Project stage.

I.T. Improvisational Theater

I.T. Improvisational Theater (I.T. Improvisational Theater)

I.T. Improvisational Theater is William & Mary’s improv group and the team is excited to perform for the Williamsburg area. Ciara Curtin, Deja Williams, and Mac Ambler are co-presidents of the group. The trio has been working hard alongside their peers to create a fun show for the festival.

“What’s going to be interesting for us a troupe is that the festival starts the day after we return to classes for the spring semester. It’s a pretty tight turnaround for our group. It’ll be interesting to see how and when we’re going to get to prepare beforehand. We’re really excited to start the semester off with a bang,” Curtin said.

I.T. Improvisational Theater is open to any undergraduate student at William & Mary. The club aims to allow students to explore the art of improv in a safe setting and is one of the oldest college improv groups in the U.S. The troupe performs musical improv, sketch improv, short form, long form and more.

Of the six comedy troupes on the William & Mary campus, I.T. Improvisational Theater is the only group performing in the festival.

“Because we are such a small campus community, the people in those other groups are all our friends. What’s really special about it is that we have so many friends who are in comedy that are right here with us so there is this level of I want to make sure that I’m representing them and how incredible they are and the comedy that they do through the comedy that we do,” Ambler said.

The trio also understands the importance of representing William & Mary at the festival.

“Our shows that we perform on campus are open to everyone that wants to be there, but we don’t often get to directly perform for people in the greater community. This will be a new experience for us and we’re all really excited,” Williams said.

I.T. Improvisational Theater will perform on Jan. 25 at 7 p.m. on the Last Word Theater stage (Williamsburg Community Building) as part of the College Improv Showcase.

Festival tickets, the full lineup of festival acts, parking and venue information is available at lastwordfestival.com.

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