January 8, 2015
We’ve all heard vaguely about artisanal bread, artisanal cheese, artisanal pickles and pizza, artisanal soap, and artisanal wine, but “artisanal comedy”?
Dot resident and seasoned stand-up comedian Bethany Van Delft has wrung one last twist out of the overused buzzword, using “Artisanal Comedy” as the name of the monthly comedy showcases that she produces and hosts at the Savin Bar and Kitchen. The SBK, at 112 Savin Hill Ave., right across from the T stop, is a short walk from her home.
The official debut night is coming up soon – Wed., Jan. 21.
The blue-gray-eyed former model is returning to stand-up after taking a break from a successful career to give birth to, and spend time with, her now three-year-old daughter. Along the way, she and other women comics found that they not only had to crack up audiences, but they also had to write and produce their own shows.
When she first moved to Dorchester, Van Delft was excited about the open mike nights at the Banshee.
“I could just walk next door and do my thing.” But when the Banshee jettisoned its open mikes, she found herself hoping some other venue would magically appear. “Then I realized that I shouldn’t just wish for a room. I realized that I had to open a room for myself and upcoming talent.” Downstairs at SBK seemed like a congenial venue, but since it lacked a sound system, Van Delft had to buy her own and hump it back and forth.
The trial run night for Artisanal Comedy actually happened last October, but a mini-hurricane severely limited audience size. Fortunately, among those who braved the elements were the SBK owners, who loved her and her lineup. They have booked monthly dates through the summer.
Van Delft has fought a career-long battle for performance slots because she, like so many other comedians, didn’t fit in one easy-to-label pigeonhole. This resistance to quick categorization is evident in the names of some of her past routines, including “Ghetto Nerd” and “Is It Possible to Be Both Black and Puerto Rican?”
She vows that every show she produces will be very eclectic, including both women and men, people of sundry and mixed races, and folks of various gender identities. But most importantly, she wants to create an environment where performers are encouraged to experiment. “They can do stand-up, sketch, improv, musical comedy. They are free to do one of their regular sets or try something completely new.”
Van Delft guarantees the quality and the diversity of the evenings. “They are all people I have personally worked with and that I think are hilarious.” As the self-styled “curator” of these evenings, she promises to always include at least one person with Dorchester roots in the mix. The January show will feature locals Shaun Bedgood and Matt Kona.
Van Delft is somewhat legendary as one of the founding mothers of Colorstruck: Women of Color in Comedy, New England’s first and still only women’s comedy showcase, which began evolving about a decade ago. She and her co-founders still perform together at least once a year to do a fundraiser for the Haymarket People’s Fund.
While parenting now is her No. 1 job, and the source of much her material, Van Delft is open to gigs elsewhere. She wants to blog or, even better, to publish a book of droll essays like those of David Sedaris. She’s also involved with The Moth: True Stories Told Live, a New York-based non-profit that features professional and amateur story-tellers in live performances, radio, podcasts, and best-selling print collections, here in Boston, in more than dozen cities across the US, and world capitals.
A previous headline of this story incorrectly stated the show's start date. The Reporter regrets this error.