Comedian Juston McKinney is scheduled to take the Waterville Opera House stage on April 6. Submitted photo

Back in February I chatted with a couple of comedians, Mark Turcotte and Tuck Tucker, and really enjoyed it, and with the way the world is swirling around, I figure that laughter is something we all need right now. So I contacted a gentleman I talked with a couple of years ago to get another fix of humor, Juston McKinney, who will perform at the Waterville Opera House on Saturday, April 6.

He called me from his New Hampshire home recently and I was immediately thankful that he gave up his York County Deputy Sheriff gig for that of a stand-up comedian. He really makes me laugh even though he takes his job really seriously.

Q: The last time we talked you were coming into Waterville, but at The Elm.
McKinney: Yeah, so we talked before I released my “On the Bright Side” special, if I am correct. So what happened with The Elm was the Waterville Opera House had closed for COVID or renovation — one or the other — because I had always been doing the Opera House every year. So that had closed and we had gone over to The Elm. It was a nice, intimate space and we had enjoyed it but we always wanted to get back to the Waterville Opera House.

Q: How long had you been playing the opera house?
McKinney: Oh, I’d bet I had been doing that venue every year since like 2011 or 2010, maybe. So I’d been doing it about eight years, if I had to guess, or nine years … and I did the Waterville Opera House last spring, as well, so this is my second time back there.

Q: What’s your assessment of that venerable venue?
McKinney: I love the facility — it’s gorgeous! I couldn’t believe the make-over, it’s beautiful! I was blown away by it. I’ve always loved that room and loved those crowds, it was always one of my favorites. The Waterville crowds have just always been some of my favorite crowds. Yeah, I’m looking forward to it.

Q: Can you speak a little more about that special you mentioned earlier, “On the Bright Side” — where is it available?
McKinney: It’s on Amazon Prime but I also put it out for free on YouTube. I put two of my full specials on there for free, “On the Bright Side” and “Parentally Challenged,” and if you see me online that’s not what you’ll see if you come out to the show because I’m always working on new material. I might do a joke or two from each of those specials, but otherwise my show will be 90% different this year than it was a year ago at the opera house.


Q: Why’s that?
McKinney: I’m always trying to turn over the material, I don’t want people to think if they see stuff they’re going to see all the same stuff — I work really hard to try to turn material over.

Q: Is it much of a challenge to do that?
It is a big challenge and a lot of work. I don’t want to leave New England, really, because of my kids — I have a 14 and a 16 year old now and my priority is to be around as much as I can. I don’t want to go on the road and do 40 weeks a year on the road,  I want to stay here. To do that I have to have people come back to these venues and they come back because they do know that they’re not going to see the same stuff every year. It is as challenge but I enjoy the challenge.

Q: I know that this is a dumb question but how do you come up with the new material?
McKinney: There’s plenty of stuff going on in the world to provide us (comedians) with material, but that’s a whole other challenge in itself because what can you talk about now? What do you want to stay away from? So I guess to sum it up, it’s a big challenge but it’s what I do. So I’m going to keep doing it.

Q: I’m sure there are some topics — hot button issues — that you need to steer clear of, like politics.
McKinney: Yeah, how can you do politics now without dividing your audience, and people want to forget about that, too, right? They want to come and forget about the crap in the world, everything going on, and there are things that you can say and things you can’t say. I don’t shy away from things but I never want anyone leaving my shows having their feelings hurt, so I try to avoid that stuff.

Q: And that sounds like it could be rather limiting, too.
McKinney: Yeah, I mean (heavy sigh) it’s a crazy time we’re living in right now, I’ve been doing this now for over 25 years and it’s never been quite like this. So we’re definitely in different times, but I feel like people need to laugh more than ever so I feel a lot of people are coming out to want to laugh — and I’m happy to be one of the messengers, so to speak.

Q: Well, I think you provide a much-needed service and for that, I thank you. And now, my closing question: Is there anything, that you’d like to pass on to the folks reading this article?
McKinney: Just that it’s one of my favorite venues ever. I’ve done it at least 10 or 11 times, I always bring back a 90% new show every year, and they can check out my two specials “On the Bright Side” and “Parentally Challenged” on YouTube and they can always go and check out my website.


Lucky Clark, a 2018 “Keeping the Blues Alive” Award winner, has spent more than 50 years writing about good music and the people who make it. He can be reached at if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.

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