The Boston stand-up comedy scene is famous for producing some of the best comedians in the world. People like Louis C.K., Conan O’Brien, and Denis Leary all got their start here, but while their successes have vaulted them onto the national stage, their road to stardom was by no means simple.
According to comedians that got their start here, Boston crowds can be unforgiving, and a bad night can feel like a nightmare. So while it may be considered a badge of honor to be called a ‘Boston comic,’ getting into the scene has never been easy. But junior Kevin Seefried is changing that.
Working as a stand-up comedian in New York City before transferring to Emerson last year, Seefried now uses his experience to set up student-featured shows in a successful way.
“I transferred here because of the school’s reputation as a comedy school,” said Seefried. “What’s really neat about Emerson is that there are so many funny people. If you put a room of supportive audience members in front of them, they’ll do well.”
After joining Inside Joke, one of Emerson’s comedy troupes, Seefried worked with the group’s president Zach Ehrlich to organize the stand up events.
“I used to watch enough stand-up that I know what makes a show good,” Seefried said. “I would stack the room a little bit. I’ll be like, ‘Alright, this guy’s new, put him up after someone that I know will do well so they have a supportive audience.’ Don’t put three new people back to back to back. It’s making sure that the pace of the show is good.”
As reputable as the school shows are, it’s the ones Seefried runs outside Emerson that are getting a lot of buzz. Not only do they attract established local comics, they serve as a great stepping-stone for Emerson students to work the mic in the real world.
“The shows Kevin runs are full of incredibly funny and supportive people and it’s because of that that I felt comfortable performing in the real world instead of just at school,” said sophomore Wes Hauptman.
Using his experience from working professional shows, Seefried works to build up and maintain the atmosphere in between the acts.
“I’ve performed at Kevin’s open mic at Sweetwater a few times and it’s one of the most supportive open mics outside of Emerson,” said junior Jennifer Ruggirello. “Kevin has a lot to do with that. Sometimes comics feel that they shouldn’t laugh at each other. Kevin’s not going to laugh at something that isn’t funny, but he’s not going to tear someone down for the sake of his own ego. And that’s really cool.”
But the new comics aren’t the only ones getting enjoyment out of Seefried’s shows.
“It’s just been really fun to see them, and I get excited when I see people that are funny,” said Seefried. “If people aren’t funny, I don’t really care, because nobody’s good when they start out. But if there’s somebody who gets it right away, it’s really exciting and fun because it’s another person I can talk about comedy with.”
On top of organizing shows at and around Emerson, Seefried said he will host the Bogart at Berklee Comedy Showcase. Organized with live entertainment promoter Bogart L.A. the showcase features people like Dan Boulger from The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson and Boston Comedy Festival winner Alingon Mitra.
“[Kevin]’s one of the hardest working Boston stand ups I know,” said Emerson alumna Jamie Loftus. “I’m excited for the Bogart show because Kevin’s always been so encouraging of stand up beginners and a lot of Emerson students, and is respected by Boston locals who have done it for longer than we’ve been alive.”
The Bogart at Berklee Comedy Showcase will be held at The Red Room at Cafe 939 on Wednesday, January 22, at 8pm. Along with his professional show, Seefried is helping organize an open mic night on Monday, January 20th in the MPR.
Correction: In the Jan. 16 print issue, this article incorrectly referred to Wes Hauptman as a freshman. He is a sophomore.