The Hippo


May 30, 2020








Super Secret Project with comic Nick Lavallee

Where: Boynton’s Taproom, Manchester
When: Friday, Sept. 30, at 8 p.m.
Tickets: $10 at

A comic state of mind
Super Secret Project and Nick Lavallee at Boynton’s

By Michael Witthaus

The three members of Super Secret Project like to brag that everybody’s mother watched their viral video hit “Granite State of Mind” on YouTube. But the comedy troupe’s material ranges beyond their New Hampshire-ized parody of Jay-Z’s hit, or the Miley Cyrus send-up “Middle Class in the U.S.A.” There are racier bits like “Law & Order: Sexual Intent” and “Man’s Best Friend with Benefits” — which can be problematic when they’re booking shows.

“We have a rule now,” says the group’s front man, Christian Wisecarver. “If the venue has a bouncy house, we won’t play — or we’ll only do one or two songs.”

Wisecarver sat at a table with SSP mate Billy Donohoe and Manchester comic Nick Lavallee, nibbling onion rings, sipping beer and talking about their upcoming show at Boynton’s Taproom. It will be the final SSP live show of the year, necessitated by the imminent arrival of Wisecarver’s third child, and Lavallee is recording his opening set for an album, so everyone’s excited.

“I’m hoping that my fans and theirs will intermingle, have unprotected sex and produce a Nick Lavallee/Super Secret Project love child,” says a chuckling Lavallee. 

“We’ve got the room for the whole night, so everyone should hang out,” echoes Wisecarver. “It will be a party.”

SSP expects to debut some new material at the show, a new song celebrating Boston sports that Wisecarver hopes will make them “famous in five and a half states instead of just one.”

“The Bruins did their part; now it’s time for us to do ours,” Donohoe says.

After their video blew up on the Internet last year — the result of a slow news day, Wisecarver says self-deprecatingly — SSP quickly put together a live show to capitalize on the sudden success.

“We don’t do standup; it’s more of a concert type thing,” Wisecarver says. “We also use PowerPoint and do an acoustic set of music too.”

“Maybe a poem,” says Donohoe.

“Boynton’s is the perfect place because it’s a comedy club but it also has the technical specs – screen, projector, good sound system,” Wisecarver adds. “At bars, people will nod their heads to the music but not pick up on the jokes.” He recently finished Steve Martin’s biography, Born Standing Up. “Martin says that distraction is the enemy of comedy — if anything can distract an audience member it will get in the way of what you’re doing. There are a lot of subtle jokes in our lyrics.” 

Lavallee took an opposite route from SSP, honing his standup routine for several years before he began making clips and submitting them to Funny or Die and other web comedy sites. 

He approached Wisecarver with the idea of a co-bill.

“I admired what these guys did,” Lavallee says. “So I asked, ‘Could I tell my … jokes before you do your show?’ I know the world these guys are in. We have the same audience but we’re doing different things. They were doing online stuff and turned it into a live show, while I took standup and made videos from it.”

“I Love You Sally Struthers” is one of Lavallee’s funniest. In it, the comic ogles, courts and finally tongue-wrestles with the actress. “The guy is kissing Sally Struthers on the mouth,” says Wisecarver in amazement. “That’s an epic win.”

Much of Lavallee’s material is R-rated, but when asked if it’s family-appropriate, he recalls his own childhood.  “My mom and dad taped Saturday Night Live for us to watch on Sunday morning … I used to think that was so cool, a family gathering around the TV to watch a VHS cassette of SNL.”

His father introduced him to George Carlin while he was still in grade school.

“It’s funny for me to say it’s not family-friendly comedy, because I’m influenced by my family, by things like my mother buying me Adam Sandler’s record when I was 14,” he says. “It’s family-friendly to my family, just not to any others.”

Sure enough, some of his best routines revolve around his family life. 

“Any self-respecting French-Canadian Manchester family knows you only need three drawers in the kitchen,” he told a crowd recently. “One for silverware, one for car keys, flashlight and other junk, and one for takeout menus.”

Lavallee’s success on iTunes has caused some to wonder if his next stop might be New York City.
“No, I’m going to move to the Internet,” he says, citing SSP as inspiration.

To do otherwise is “simply attaching yourself to a dying breed,” he wrote in an early summer blog post. “I can’t afford a time machine to bring me back to 1988. Besides, I look terrible in a blazer and blue jeans while lamenting about the taste of airline food.”

While their Internet impact has been significant, the members of SSP — Wisecarver, Donohoe and Darby DeChristopher — haven’t become starstruck. 

“Jay-Z has seen ‘Granite State of Mind,’ but he never said anything about it,” Wisecarver observes with a dismissive wave of his hand. “What would I need that for?”

“Well. Beyoncé is pregnant, and your wife’s expecting,” counters Donohoe. 

“Oh, yeah,” Wisecarver replies.

®2020 Hippo Press. site by wedu