AVERILL PARK – During the day, Averill Park resident Ed Smyth is restoring old windows in historic homes and buildings, but his true calling is delivering stand-up comedy to his fans around the Capital Region and New York State.
Recently, Smyth was involved in the All Abilities Productions Upstate New York show held in Glens Falls at Aviation Mall. All Abilities Production Upstate New York (AAPUNY), formed in April 2022 as a non-profit organization, provides all-inclusive opportunities for individuals with physical and mental disabilities and abilities to take part in community theater. Its founder. Andrew O’Roarke, who was born with cerebral palsy, discovered that there was a lack of disabled people participating in community theater and created the non-profit to change that.
A member of the organization’s board whom Smyth knew from his acting days invited him to bring his one-man comedy show to the organization’s September fundraiser event. He came back for a Nov. 5 show, but this time he was assisted by his friend Jerry Diamond, to serve as host for the one-hour “coop comedy” show as Smyth called it.
Comedy and Acting
“Well, like most artists who claim that it’s not as if they look for it rather as if they were compelled to do it, and I’d have to say the same thing. It is that I enjoy doing it,” Smyth said. “And the first rule for me is: if I crack myself up, then I have a good chance that I can crack somebody else up.”
Ever since the second grade when he caused his classmates and teacher to laugh in class, acting and comedy has been something that Smyth wanted to do as an adult.
“I’ve always enjoyed it. My first time I ever cracked an audience up was in second grade,” Smyth recalled. “When you sat down in a reading circle, you had to read a sentence, and I would do it in a goofy way and I would crack the kids up and I thought this is great.”
Smyth performed his coop (a play on co-op) comedy shows in different formats at The Tram in Utica at the end of September and two comedy festivals: the Finger Lakes Comedy Festival and the Uptown Comedy Festival in Utica. Smyth’s mission with the “Coop Comedy” concept is to sell and market his one-man show to different venues, he said.
Sometimes, Smyth will have special comedy guests to fill in inbetween comedic sketches to have their moment in the spotlight or he’ll perform the show by himself.
In fact, two of Smyth’s comedy friends, Mike Ciccono and a gentleman who calls himself “Home Visitor” were involved in what Smyth calls his “Kook” shows, where Cicconi would read his loud, wacky poems and “Home Visitor” would play funny songs on a harpsichord.
On stage, Smyth portrays a set of characters that he has added over time to his one-man acts. They include: Ooog, Son of OG 30,000 BC, who’s a primitive caveman; the Ancient Baby Boomer, originally portrayed as Ted the Farmer who came from the dark ages when people only had three TV channels and dialed the phone by hand; Ted the Impressionist who enjoys doing impressions but has no clue how to do stand up comedy; and Broncho Ted, a cowboy who talks about his favorite things from an afternoon cowboy TV show.
The idea behind the “Coop Comedy Show” Smyth said, is that it’s weird, funny, but not cringey, and it’s a show where a young teen won’t be shocked or offended by the creative content. He also calls his comedy absurd, non-offensive and that it tends to be for people who enjoy offbeat, nonsensical humor.
Smyth’s main hustle is restoring and revitalizing original wood windows. He enjoys helping to preserve something that was originally designed for a building, in particular, old architecture.
“I always kid with people that I walk into their house, the side benefit is I get to look at old buildings while I’m doing my job.” Smyth said.
Smyth has worked on homes that date back to the 1830’s to the turn of the 20th century that have a lot of architectural detail to them, such as a Queen Anne home, otherwise known as a Victorian house.
Where to go from here
Locally, Smyth said would like to establish a small circle of venues such as The Tram or even return to the Eden Cafe in Loudonville to showcase his comedy show. He would like to hunt down small venues that would like the idea of a one-man comedy show like his that incorporates local talent.
Smyth has also been toying with the idea of performing at comedy clubs. Even though performing at established comedy clubs is competitive, he would like to return to New York City to perform every month at an open mic showcase and network with other people to establish connections.
His dream for a long time was to perform at the Rochester Fringe Festival. Although there were years that his comedy submission was rejected, he was eventually chosen to perform a live show last year and do a Zoom show in 2021.
Success helping the cause
All Ability Productions is happy to have Smyth return to perform. His character, Ted the Impressionist, resonated with fans at comedy festivals throughout the year. His routines work for a variety of audiences because they don’t know or expect what is coming, he said.
Smyth is also experimenting with posting various comedy bits online on Facebook, YouTube, Tik Tok, and Reddit. He said that recent Reddit and Facebook posts brought attention and grew receptive audiences on social media.
“I don’t think about trying to get traction locally because you could spend your whole life being a local talent and it’s not going to get anywhere for just a little bit of traction you might get with some exceptions.” Smyth said.
Because coop comedy doesn’t fit into the general, traditional tone of stand-up comedy, no one else does it, he said.
“So I’m not competing with anyone else because no one else does it on the flip side. I have to sell it as a unique product as well because it’s not gonna fit in that general mold,” Smyth said. “So that’s my idea of packaging it together as both a framework of a one-man show with a special guest, hour plus and I’m certainly enthusiastic about helping out with the marketing.”
“If someone enjoys absurd comedy like Monty Python or the movie “Airplane,” that’s what coop comedy is all about.” Smyth concluded. “Crazy, silly, slightly weird, but always funny.”