A couple of years ago, I chatted with Mark Turcotte about some comedy shows he was doing in the area. When I saw that he was bringing another production to Johnson Hall in Gardiner, I decided to reconnect with the comedian to find out more about his gig on Saturday, Sept. 15. Reached at his home in Lewiston, Turcotte was more than happy to fill me in about a special season at the popular venue.

Turcotte: It’s our third full season at Johnson Hall. We started 2016 into ’17 with six shows. And then the following year we did another six shows, and they’ve been pretty successful. I think we’ve sold out three or four of our six shows last season. People are coming out and supporting stand-up comedy; they’re really having a good time with it. I got together with Mike Miclon and the staff at Johnson Hall, and we decided to plan our most ambitious schedule yet and we have nine shows for 2018 to 2019.

Q: Wow, that is ambitious.

Turcotte: Yeah, we’re going to do the third Saturday of every month from September through May.

Q: Cool, that’s great. Who will you be bringing in this time around?

Turcotte: Well, I have headliners booked all the way up to January. Here’s an example: Joe Trammel is one of the first acts I’m bringing in that is not a traditional stand-up comedian. Joe was named “Entertainer of the Year” in Las Vegas twice, and he’s now living in Auburn with his wife and children. His wife, if I understand correctly, has ties to Maine. I can’t wait to bring him to Johnson Hall.

Q: Is he the headliner in September?

Turcotte: No, he’s on Dec. 15.

Q: I would definitely love to chat with him for that show.

Turcotte: I’m sure that can happen, but in September I have four acts coming. I have Bryan Valentia. He’s out of Albuquerque, New Mexico, and he made the finals in the World Series of Comedy and got to perform in Las Vegas. I also have Krystal Dyer; she runs a show at Comix at Mohegan Sun. And Brett Johnson out of Boston. And I have a game show that we’re going to debut with my Canadian friends Brian Brinegar and Cloud Morris. The show is called “WTFD?!” which stands for “What’s The F-ing Deal?!”

Q: That sounds intriguing, to say the least. How far afield do you take your shows?

Turcotte: I have currently 12 venues ranging from South Portland to Bangor. I’ve noticed a lot of craft breweries that are popping up and looking for stand-up comedy. I’ve had a couple of them reach out to me to start doing shows there.

Q: Well it looks like stand-up has “legs” in Maine, one could say.

Turcotte: Yeah, I think as long as you put a good show together and present a quality show for the audience and you respect their time. If the comedians are good, and the audience is having a good time, they’ll keep coming back. When I put a show together, I think of the comedy as secondary to the audience’s experience — like starting a show on time, keeping the show moving and keeping it entertaining for the whole 90 minutes. The proof is in the pudding. When they come back, you know you’re doing a good job, and I’ve seen a lot of familiar faces through the years.

Q: How long have you been doing this?

Turcotte: I’ve been performing stand-up for six years and producing shows for just over five. I started producing shows shortly after I started stand-up.

Q: Now, do you perform at these shows?

Turcotte: I usually host them. But it’s getting to the point now where I have some shows booked on the same night, so I have a couple of people that I use to host and run the shows for me while I’m elsewhere. It’s a good problem to have.

Q: Is there anything, Mark, that you’d like me to pass on to the folks reading this article?

Turcotte: Sure, if you’ve never attended a live stand-up comedy show before, please make it a point to do so. It’s a great night out. The shows we do at Johnson Hall are adult shows. We do have an age restriction on them: 21-plus — and from my conversations with Mike Miclon, he says people really seem to enjoy it because a lot of the shows at Johnson Hall are family shows and this one is like an adult night out. It’s where mom and dad get to go out and let loose a little bit with some adult humor.

Q: When you told me the name of that game show I was hoping it was an adult-only gig.

Turcotte: (Laughter) Well, we don’t say the name of the game show until everyone’s in the building — for advertising purposes it’s “WTFD?!”

Lucky Clark has spent 49 years writing about good music and the people who make it. He can be reached at [email protected] if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.

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