What’s so funny about Vermont?

Everything, according to Vernon native and stand-up comedian Kendall Farrell, who has organized a benefit show for Bernie Sanders

BRATTLEBORO — Stand-up comic Kendall Farrell says he believes that Bernie Sanders has a solid lock on the comedian vote.

“Comedians respond to Sanders' authenticity and straightforwardness,” says Farrell.“Of course, you might say the same about Donald Trump, but Bernie is not a terrible person.”

Farrell is bringing comedy to Brattleboro in support of Sanders on Sunday, Feb. 14, at the River Garden, in a benefit show, “Stand Up for Bernie.” He says it will be “a night of love, laughter, live music, and political activism.”

Farrell will play master of ceremonies as he hosts six other comedians in a show in which 100 percent of the proceeds will go to the Sanders presidential campaign.

“We hope to raise over $1,000,” he says.

Farrell took home the title of Vermont's Funniest Comedian in Burlington last November after competing alongside 60 comics in four sold-out shows to the Vermont Comedy Club's annual competition.

Joining Farrell on the lineup for “Stand Up for Bernie” will be Jessie Baade from Brattleboro, Bitsy Biron from East Orange, Carmen Lagala from Montpelier, Sam Evans from New York City, Shawn Carter from Boston, and Phoebe Angle, also from Boston.

Biron, who was also a finalist for Vermont's Funniest Comedian, will be performing her comedy rap, “I Want to Have Bernie Sanders' Baby” (

“I have gotten together some friends and colleagues from Vermont, Boston, and New York City, including a few Vermonters who moved from the area to continue their careers,” says Farrell.

In addition to the comedians, the event also features a live musical performance by Northampton's The Mary Jane Jones, lead by Mandy Pachios. A cash bar with drinks and desserts is courtesy of local restaurant, Duo.

While host Farrell performs regularly throughout the Northeast, this is his first performance in his home town. He grew up in Vernon, where his parents own a small furniture store.

“I spent most of my teenage years in Southern Vermont,” he says. “Then I moved to Atlanta where I enrolled at Emory College, where I intended to study business.”

But shortly after, Farrell dropped out of Emory when he realized that business was not “a good plan” for his future.

“Let's just say, my academic program was not working out,” he confesses. “I thought my parents were spending too much money on school when, truth be known, I was not interested in business.”

After college, Farrell did a few internships in Boston. It was there he began his forays into the world of stand-up, performing on open mic nights in comedy clubs around the city.

Farrell says that he didn't have stage fright “too bad” when he entered the cutthroat world of live comedy.

“I guess I was a little nervous about being judged,” he admits. “But I had such a rough time in high school, where I made a fool of myself a million times, I thought nothing onstage could be as embarrassing as what I went though there.

“And believe me, you do embarrass yourself a lot doing live comedy. All comedians, myself included, are terrible when they start out. And audiences are not generous to the novice stand up.

“When I was beginning, I would perform anywhere there was an open mic, like the party room of a pizza restaurant, where the crowd was more interested in getting through their two slices of pizza than hearing me stumble through stories and jokes. But it toughens you. And you need to be tough to pursue this obsession.”

Farrell thinks he has always been “obsessed” with comedy.

“Perhaps that may be because I am a loner, someone on the outside looking in,” he explains. “What do I mean by obsessed? I spent a lot of my childhood studying comedy shows like 'Roseanne' and 'Naked Night.' Sure, lots of people enjoy the show 'The Office,' but they do not go out and buy the complete series on DVD, memorize the script and incessantly quote its lines.

“Nonetheless, when I did it, I was never thinking of comedy as a viable career. I just saw that behavior as an amusing personal quirk.”

After some time in Boston, Farrell moved back to Vermont to continue his education in Burlington at the University of Vermont. “I really love it here and, even after I quit that school too, I decided to stay,” he says.

Now resolving to dedicate himself full time to pursuing a career in comedy, Farrell continued the pursuit of his passion in Burlington.

“Actually the city has a very cool comedy scene,” he says. “Comedy clubs are coming back. Nathan and Natalie, my booking agents, decided to open their own brick and mortar club last November, which has proven to be very successful. They are able to fill a 175-person venue every weekend.

“There has recently been a surge of comedy clubs throughout the state. You would be shocked when you see all the places I have played, towns such as Johnson, Chelsea, Londonville, Bennington, and, of course, Burlington. Even Rutland has a very interesting scene. There's more to that town than oyster crackers and heroin.”

While in the world of comedy today there are ways to establish oneself besides performing in clubs, Kendall says he finds the appeal of brick wall comedy clubs with a live audience the way to go.

“Comedians now often post videos of their acts on YouTube, and others have developed full comedy series on the web,” he says. “But I do not want to put any videos of mine online yet because I am still working through my material. I would rather not have a lot of people see my act too early.”

Most of Kendall's comedy material concerns things that are very personal to him.

“I tell stories and jokes,” he says. “A lot of it is observational, some of it political.”

Although he has been performing professionally only a year-and-a-half, Farrell already has won the Vermont Funniest Comedian competition. He explains how it works:

“Sixty Vermont-based stand-up comedians compete in three rounds: the prelims, the semi-finals and the top five.”

The year before, when Kendall had been performing less than half a year, he was already one of top three finalists.

Although he has performed in many shows, “Stand Up for Bernie” is the first Farrell ever produced himself.

“Comedians love Bernie, and with his recent surge in the polls, the timing for this benefit couldn't be more perfect,” he says. “We are lucky to be able to perform in the River Garden, which is such a great space for this kind of thing. All in all, it should be a nice night out for a great cause.”

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