THANK YOU EVERYONE; LET'S KEEP IT UP! Reaching a stretch goal of $35k+ will allow us to fit up classrooms, hire local artists for decor & signage (Tyler Vendituoli is going to make us a "uni-cow" sculpture!) & much more.
READ MORE ABOUT OUR PROJECT BELOW - LET'S DO THIS, FOLKS!
(As you can see in this video taken during our 12-HOUR comedy marathon, if we make our stretch goal Mark Stein will tattoo the uni-cow on his body AND you'll be invited to Natalie's 30th birthday party!)
We are Natalie Miller and Nathan Hartswick, a hardworking young(ish) couple. We grew up in the Northeast Kingdom and we're Burlington residents, entrepreneurs and comedians. Our mission is to make comedy shows and education affordable and accessible to everyone.
We run Vermont’s premier comedy booking agency, Vermont Comedy Club. In five years, we've produced thousands of comedy shows in Vermont featuring local, regional and national talent, drawing more than 20,000 people to dozens of venues. We've done benefit shows for non-profits, and we're behind the Green Mountain Comedy Festival and the Vermont’s Funniest Comedian contest.
At Spark Arts, our small Burlington studio, we've taught comedy classes to hundreds of students, from school kids to CEOs, and hosted guest workshops with professionals from NYC, Boston, Chicago and LA. We frequently offer scholarships to our classes and workshops to those in need.
Here are a few things wrong with comedy in Burlington currently:
"Where is that, again?" Although popular, comedy in Burlington is happening mostly in music venues, which means it's often changing dates and locations, and happens in the less-than-desirable timeslots. This inconsistency makes it tough for comedy fans to find shows.
"We can go shoot pool at that comedy show." Music venues are not conducive to live comedy. Noise problems, lighting/sound issues, uncomfortable seating, loud televisions, and yes, pool games in back - all make for a lousy live comedy show.
(Check out this video about the strange rooms in VT!)
"I think I can make out the comedian from these balcony seats." Comedy should be intimate. Right now national, big name acts can only play large theaters in Burlington (and up-and-coming talent coming through the Northeast skip us entirely). Vermonters need a place to experience these acts in an intimate space built for an ideal comedy experience.
"It's not The Radisson anymore." Comedy in Vermont has exploded. A decade ago, an occasional show in a Radisson conference room was the only way to see comedy in Vermont. Now there are hundreds of comedians performing in multiple shows per week. Plus, demand for comedy classes (for kids and adults) has exceeded what we can offer at our small studio.
"Where do you feeling like yelling at each other tonight?" The entertainment landscape in Burlington offers little peace and quiet. This town needs an alternative to live, loud music: a place for adults to enjoy good conversation and interactive, quality, affordable entertainment.
(Watch VT comedians talk about the need for a venue here!)
A town as hip as Burlington should have its own dedicated comedy venue, right? We intend to open one here in 2015. Vermont Comedy Club will be:
Easy to find. VCC will be in a prime location in downtown Burlington (we can't tell you exactly where just yet), and offer live comedy five nights per week. A visible, brick and mortar venue will make it easier for existing fans to find comedy and draw new audiences, making comedy a go-to form of weekend entertainment in Burlington.
Customized for comedy. A hybrid between a standup club (Caroline's, Gotham Comedy Club, etc.) and an improv theater (The Second City, Upright Citizens Brigade, etc.), VCC will be specifically designed with the aesthetic and technical needs of live comedy in mind. We will feature local showcases and regional and national acts in our 150 seat showroom, offering Vermonters and visitors to Burlington the opportunity to see high-quality talent in an intimate environment. Plus, our upscale lounge will feature a full bar with craft cocktails and appetizers, offering adults an alternative to live, loud music.
Community minded. This new space will allow us to grow the comedy arts community exponentially in Vermont. We'll be able to offer more shows to the public (including FREE and low-cost shows); up the ante with our fundraising for local non-profits; accommodate more audience members; offer comedians more stage time to develop as performers, and offer more classes for adults, kids & teens in standup, sketch and improv comedy. VCC will serve as a place for people to gather, talk, laugh, and collaborate together!
Check out this video to see why our community is so special!
We've identified the perfect location, and it is...drum roll...the Armory building at 101 Main Street! Check out this video about it:
We know this business will be successful because Vermonters love comedy, and our clients love us. But in the words of LeVar Burton: "You don't have to take my word for it!"
"Our sides are still aching from all of the laughter. It was such a special addition to our evening. I think it will be much talked about for a while." - Ann
"The shows were wonderful and working with you was sublime. I so appreciate all the hard work you put into this event; you helped raise funding for and helped bring a little more attention to (our charity). This was a new and innovative project for us, and we were grateful that you stepped forward and helped make it happen. Thank you!" - Joan
"Every time I encounter Nathan and Natalie I am struck by their ability to make "it" not about themselves, but about you, or the comedy scene, or building camaraderie. In my experience, that sort of ability -- to put oneself aside and focus on the other artists' talents and potential -- is a rare find." - David
"I've always dreamed of doing stand up but could never muster the courage to get onstage. Nathan immediately took control of the space, making it safe to try new things, open up creatively, and both fail and succeed. By the end of the course I was not only ready to get onstage for our performance - I was genuinely excited about it." - Hillary
"(My son) looks forward to your comedy camps every summer!" - Jennifer
"You have been such a positive force in (my daughter's) life. Thank you for lighting her SPARK and teaching her the skills she needs to succeed in the performing arts!" - Mary
"Thank you for hosting the improv workshop yesterday...It was a FANTASTIC way to start the day!" - Mike
"Your improv events are the highlight of my week." - Drew
A place this cool doesn't happen without a serious financial investment - this is a $500k undertaking. We've spent the past two years planning for this - running the numbers, mitigating risk, raising capital.
Because this will be a community space, we are reaching out for YOUR help to raise a small portion of the funds we need. Our goal for this Kickstarter is $25,000, which will allow us to build out our state-of-the-art comedy showroom. Your investment will go toward:
- $8,000 - Stage Lighting, Sound, Projector
- $7,000 - Tables & Chairs, Piano
- $2,000 - Room Lighting
- $4,500 - Soundproofing & Paneling
- $3,500 - Taxes, Fees & Perk Fulfillment
We have AWESOME perks for our backers - everything from t-shirts to VIP passes to helping you pull an awesome prank on a friend.
Risks and challenges
We have been working with a team of wonderful, experienced advisors who have helped us mitigate this project's risk as much as possible. Of course, there will be roadblocks and challenges along the way. We've overcome many already and are confident that we can handle whatever the fates throw at us. Especially with you, the community, behind us!
This is a big project, but Kickstarter is just one way we are financing our brick & mortar venue. We've already secured multiple private investments, are raising money from local philanthropists, applying for grants and are well on our way to getting a loan for the balance.
We are hopeful that negotiations for our tentative location will be wrapped up by the time this Kickstarter campaign is fully funded. We are just working out the nitty gritty details. We will also need to attend a public hearing about the usage of the space. Having you all there to support our endeavor would be incredibly helpful - We'll keep you posted on when that will be happening!
We have been working towards this for five years. The process has been long and arduous, but it's a labor of love! We won't rest until Vermont Comedy Club is up & running!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (45 days)