The Hippo


Sep 23, 2019








Jay Chanoine. Courtesy photo.

Jay Chanoine

When: Wednesday, May 27, 9 p.m.
Where: Shaskeen Pub, 909 Elm St., Manchester

Going south
Comic does hometown show ahead of big tour

By Michael Witthaus

“You should be a comedian” are words that spur many a class clown to try telling jokes to an audience. Jay Chanoine claims in his case the opposite’s true — most chuckled at the idea of him becoming a comic. 

“I wasn’t a popular kid, I was kind of awkward,” he recalled in a recent phone interview. “It was more me telling people that this is something I am going to do professionally and kind of getting the response of, ‘Cool, whatever, move along’ — no one cared.”
Despite the eh factor, Chanoine stayed single-minded about standup. 
“I was very young and found out this was a job you could have … it kind of blew my mind,” he said. 
In 2009 he took the plunge. In six years, he’s built a following at showcases and open mikes from Concord to the Seacoast with a cranky, self-deprecating shtick.
Chanoine reached a personal milestone this year with the release of his first CD. The title, playing on the similarity of his last name and the Quiet Riot song, is Come On Feel Chanoine. Working in front of an enthusiastic hometown crowd at Manchester’s Shaskeen Pub, the comic is firing on all cylinders, ranting about pop culture, rock music and his sometimes confused masculinity. 
On “Hot For Teacher,” Chanoine discusses sharing his speech expertise with a college class taught by his wife. 
“It’s a cool idea — we’re comedians using the basics to talk to people all the time,” he said. “But what’s cooler than that is watching an entire roomful of students realize they’re paying thousands of dollars to get public speaking tips from a high-school dropout.”
Much of his material is edgy. Punk comic/impresario JT Habersaat, however, loved his stuff and last year invited Chanoine on some East Coast dates for his Altercation Comedy Tour. 
“JT was coming to the Halligan [a Derry venue where he frequently works] and the people who were on that said, ‘Punk rock comedy? Yeah, we got a guy,’” Chanoine said. “I did a feature for him there, and last year we went all the way to Pennsylvania and back.”
It went so well that Habersaat asked him to venture further out. Following a send-off show on May 27, Chanoine will head to the Deep South for an extended run with the Altercation Tour. 
“Texas to Louisiana, the furthest out of my comfort zone that I’ve ever performed, and the furthest from the East Coast I’ve ever been,” he said. “I’m excited about places like Austin and New Orleans … but there’s also Oklahoma and Mississippi. I don’t know what to expect there.”
Habersaat was helpful in what could turn out to be an even more vital way. Last fall, the comic got a pre-release copy of Chanoine’s CD into the hands of Dan Schlissel, owner Stand Up! Records. The legendary label is home to many iconic comedians; 16 years ago, its first signing was Lewis Black. Though there’s no deal yet, “I’m on his radar, and when I have more, he wants to hear it,” said Chanoine. “That is so cool, just to know that that person was listening to me.”
Honing his craft and developing new material for another record occasionally finds Chanoine doing the Elm Street dash — sets at two comedy events running simultaneously Wednesday nights in Manchester. Each has its own appeal. 
“They are different shows and there is room for both of them,” he said. “But Laugh Free or Die [at Murphy’s] is an open mike and that’s where, as long as there is room on the list, anyone can get a spot … if you’re working on new stuff. The Shaskeen has more of a showcase thing going on, with a headliner and features.”
Chanoine books plenty of shows throughout the region. The interview took place as he readied for an appearance in Maine that included Boston comics Mike Molloy and Greg Boggis. His current act blends old and new material, and while he’s thinking about a follow-up to Come On Feel Chanoine, he finds time to savor the achievement of making an album. 
“I have my ‘hour’ — that, I can be proud of, and it’s definitely added to the feeling of accomplishment,” he said. “It’s something I thought about and said I was going to do, and I did it with friends. I really feel like I made the thing that I wanted to make.” 
As seen in the May 21, 2015 issue of the Hippo.

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