WILLIAMSBURG — Standing on a stage in front of a crowd, armed with nothing but a microphone, is a lot of people’s idea of a nightmare. However, for Noel Goodman, it sounds like an ideal way to spend an evening.
No, he is not a masochist. He is a standup comedian.
Noel’s passion for performing comedy started when he was serving in the U.S. Navy. As a sonar technician onboard USS Gonzalez, he performed in a talent show during the equator crossing (“Crossing the Line”) ceremony on his first deployment.
During the event’s activities, also known as a “Shellback Ceremony,” he sang a humorous song that he had written called “Relaxation Sunday”. The song was a hit with his fellow crew members in all ranks.
“People would come up to me who I did not really know to tell me they liked it,” Noel remembers. “Even officers like the ships XO (executive officer) came up to me. It was a great feeling that my performance was bringing people closer to me but also people closer together on the boat.”
The success he experienced while underway made him wonder why he had not been doing stand-up all along.
As much fun as he had performing for his shipmates, it took him a few years to get into the stand-up scene on dry land.
After leaving the Navy, Noel got married and had three children; settling down on the Hampton Roads Peninsula. Whatever free time he had outside of family and his new career with a mining equipment company, Noel devoted to training in mixed martial arts.
“Eventually I got tired of being punched in the face,” Noel said. “So I started looking for something else to do. I remembered performing on the boat and doing drama in high school. I still had a creative itch.”
Noel started seeking out places that would let him get in front of a crowd. He frequented open-mic nights around the area. Cozzy’s Comedy Club on Warwick Boulevard, both in Newport News, were particularly essential in helping Noel hone his skills.
After gaining some experience, Noel starting reaching out to restaurants about hosting comedy nights. Eventually he was able to convince the owner of the now closed Cuban restaurant Havana Hemingway Café to give him a shot.
Now two-years into his stand-up career, Noel feels that Williamsburg and the surrounding area are hungry for live comedy.
In September, he was the organizer and master of ceremonies for a three comic showcase at K’bola Cuban Restaurant in New Town. The establishment was at socially distanced capacity before the show started.
Noel plans to keep reaching out to local venues in hopes of putting on similar events. He says that if Williamsburg can get one place that hosts a weekly comedy night, that might open the floodgates of the untapped comic potential in the area.
“There are a lot of students at William & Mary who I know can be funny,” Noel said. “A lot of them probably have not given any thought to stand-up. What about older people? There are retirees who have been funny their entire lives and now they have time to come in and do a five minute set. We can build a community that helps people think creatively. That is the goal.”
For tickets, checkout the ASAP website. The show starts at 7:30 p.m.