Vermont’s hip weekly arts paper, Seven Days, runs a readers’-choice award contest every year for everything from Best Restaurant to Best Radio Station to Best Vermont Spa. This year was the first time they’ve had a category for stand-up comedy, and Josie shares the debut honor with Rusty DeWees, aka “The Logger,” a multi-talented one-man show performer.
There’s a reason the Best Stand-Up Comic award is so new; until about eight years ago, there wasn’t much of a comedy scene in Burlington. One of the major hotels booked comics out of North Carolina, but that was it apart from some terrific performance artists like Rusty DeWees and Woody Keppel. Then, something shifted in the zeitgeist, and I have to say that Josie was a big part of that.
A stand-up comic in New York City, Josie had had a terrific burgeoning career before I dragged her to Vermont. Even though she loved bookselling, she missed performing. So a few years after opening the store, Josie started teaching stand-up comedy for FlynnArts, the education arm of Burlington’s Flynn Center for the Performing Arts. That was in 2005, and by now, something like 80% of all stand-up comics in Burlington have taken her class. Okay, I made up that statistic, but it seems pretty close. She also started a stand-up comedy performance series at the FlynnSpace called Stand Up, Sit Down, and Laugh — the Flynn’s longest-running performance series to date. She founded The Vermont Comedy Divas, a group of very funny women, and she’s put together two one-woman shows, “Piece of Cake” and “Horrified, But Laughing.”
Can you tell I’m proud? While Josie is an ace bookseller and all-around phenomenal human being, it’s my opinion that she was truly put on this planet to perform stand-up. If you ever have the chance to see her perform, I suspect you’ll agree. She’s in her element on stage: relaxed, smart, quick, funny as hell — one of those rare performers you never have to worry about, and one of those even rarer comics who has you laughing at almost every line. That’s a huge gift, and I get to benefit from it every day — which is especially lucky when you’ve had a week like we have.
So please join me in congratulating my best friend, partner, and one of the funniest people on the planet! Or, heck, come see her perform on September 13.
P.S. Funny children’s-literature link: author Kate Messner’s husband, Tom Messner, also won a Seven Daysie as the state’s finest meteorologist! He’s won the award six years in a row, and there’s no question he’s the best. Congrats, Tom! That’s one talented family.