• by Sarah Teach •
Cindy Pierce just can’t help herself; she is an “incident magnet.” From childhood toilet episodes to recent mishaps in the bedroom, her audaciousness has translated into laughs for everyone who has heard her recount her experiences. Ten years ago, Pierce’s friends finally insisted that she share her stories in front of an audience. Her first live show, test driven on a crowd totaling 75, was met with tremendous positive feedback, and one-woman shows have been her game ever since.
You may have caught Pierce when she entertained the crowd at the 2012 Nantucket Film Festival’s Late Night Storytelling or at the 2014 Nantucket Comedy Festival’s Women, Coffee and Comedy event. On Monday, August 11, the island will again benefit from Pierce’s “incident magnetism” when the storyteller brings her one-person show, Comfort in the Stumble, to White Heron Theatre Company’s (WHTC) stage as part of Comedy Festival Mondays, a collaborative series from WHTC and the Nantucket Comedy Festival.
“I don’t consider myself a comedian; I’m a comic storyteller,” Pierce says. “The show is funny, but it’s not at anyone else’s expense… except my husband’s. And he thinks my message is worth a little bit of embarrassment.” Pierce explains her unique arrangement with the world: “I think I attract incidents because I’m willing to take risks and am not afraid to stumble. As a kid, I thought, ‘when I grow up, this part of me will go away.’ Didn’t happen. Then I thought it’d go away when I became a mom. And now I’m a drifting middle-aged woman, and it’s really on the fly. I’m kind of a social liability for my kids, which adds to the soup. But I’m pretty resilient. The thing is, I find humor rather than shame in the things that happen to me.”
Executive director of WHTC, Michael Kopko explains the one-person show genre: “It’s not standup, but it’s usually funny. These are very much theatrical pieces.” The genre is known for swinging audiences back and forth between tears of laughter and those of poignancy. Nantucket Comedy Festival founder Kevin Flynn adds, “It’s a long story that comes to a resolution at the end. It’s usually about a father dying and the storyteller’s journey through that, or could titled something like ‘My Time at the DMV.’” Pierce says, “The show that’s coming to Nantucket is the story of my unraveling in life.”
Those who tend to best love Pierce’s adult-themed show Comfort in the Stumble are men and women ages 30 and up. She says, “A lot of people think, ‘oh, it’s called a one-woman show so it must be just for women. You know, ‘Menopause the Musical.’ But as a kid, I had dual citizenship with girls and boys, and I still have that. I’m very empathetic to men, and am rooting for men as much as I’m rooting for women. So many men who have seen my shows over the years have expressed gratitude that I give their perspective with gusto. I wrote a book about sex and a lot of men who read it said to me, ‘I am so grateful for that.’”
Pierce’s performance falls under WHTC’s summer series, Comedy Festival Mondays. Kopko speaks to the series’ beginnings: “My dear friend Kevin Flynn and I discussed a collaboration back in the spring. Initially, we thought we might bring standup to our stage, but Kevin suggested we do something more theatrical to keep with the theatre’s mission. That was really a brilliant idea since we at White Heron are currently building three plays from the ground up and we really have our hands full in terms of producing. This collaboration with Comedy Fest was a good way for us to give our audience great acts on Mondays nights, which is a time when we would otherwise be dark. It turned out that we booked all women this year, and we’re really happy that it did go that direction. Our president/founder/artistic director is a woman, and we’re committed to employing women in the theatre. This year, we tested the waters, and we are really going to fine tune this series for 2015.”
Comfort in the Stumble will be 2014’s final Comedy Festival Monday, taking place on August 11. The curtain rises at 7:30 p.m. under the tent at 5 North Water Street. Tickets are $25 at whiteherontheatre.org or 508-825-5268.