Best Bets: Milford’s Hall bringing laughs back to Milton

Missy Hall, a Milford High graduate and former teacher at St. Anne’s Episcopal School in Middletown, will headline a night of standup comedy Friday at Milton Theatre.

To say these last three months have been a dark time can only be considered an understatement. A worldwide pandemic, record unemployment and now nationwide protests have dominated the headlines.

It may be time for a few laughs and Milton Theatre may have just the ticket.

As part of its soft reopening, which has included movies Wednesday and Thursday and a drag show Saturday, comedy is on the bill Friday at the venerable performing arts venue with a night of standup.

Dover’s Keith Purnell will host the 8 p.m. show that features Jeremy Hall and his wife, headliner Missy Hall.

The Milford High graduate and former teacher at St. Anne’s Episcopal School in Middletown, has been a professional standup comedian for five years, touring around the country with her relateable, observational humor.

She is the 2013 winner of the Laugh Out Loud Competition, has worked as a warmup comic for Harry Connick Jr.’s talk show and her freshman comedy CD, “Miss Representation” was a first-round Grammy nominee in 2012 for best comedy album.

A seasoned actress/singer, she was recently featured in “Road Spill” on TruTV and in the feature film “Days of Power” with Eric Roberts released in 2018. Ms. Hall, who now lives in Wilmington, was also a finalist in the professional category of the 2018 Ladies Out Loud competition and a finalist at the 2018 Big Sky Comedy Festival.

Three months ago, however, it all stopped.

“It was like the beginning of a domino train. I was on tour the week before this all happened, And one of the guys that I was with was going, ‘Yeah, I was talking to somebody, I think this COVID thing going to be bigger than we think it is,’” she recalled this week.

“Me and my husband, he’s also a comic, but he’s also in the travel industry. We were just talking about things like people not being allowed to travel to China and stuff and then it just hit. And I think I got back from that tour on March 14, and then everything just ended. I mean, it was the calls and the emails and it was scary because at first it was just March, then it was April, then all of May was gone. And then I’ve had stuff that was canceled for July and August. And then you think ‘OK, this is bad.’. You just kind of sit here and say ‘Oh, well, have I made a good decision?’ You could never count on anything with entertainment even before this.

“At the same time, you don’t want to be a jerk either. Because it’s like, well, of course, if somebody said, ‘Hey, Missy, you can do your job. But somebody’s mother is going to get sick and die,’ I wouldn’t do it. But it’s hard to keep your chin up when your income source just sort of goes away.”

Jeremy Hall will be on the bill for Friday night’s standup comedy show at the Milton Theatre.

And so while the lights went out in theaters and comedy clubs, Ms. Hall has taken her act online and on the road — literally.

“I did do one show in Pennsylvania a couple of weeks ago. It was an outdoor social distancing show where I stood on the deck of a restaurant and then people were at their cars across the street and then traffic was going through and it was hilarious and ridiculous at the same time. We all knew it was ridiculous. I’d tell a joke and a Mack truck would go by in the middle of it,” she said.

“They’re all sitting on top of their cars or sitting in lawn chairs in front of the cars, eating, snacking and stuff like that and we had regular microphones with super loud speakers. But we all knew this was bizarro. So it felt very honest and it was OK.

“It just felt good for everybody to do an activity that we would normally do.”

She’s also done shows online on Zoom for groups where she can’t always see or hear the audience.

“I did ask them to leave two people’s mics on so I could tell if anyone was laughing. But that was bizarre too. You couldn’t see anybody’s faces. My husband did one where it froze two minutes in. I’m coining the new phrase, ‘resting glitch face,’” she joked.

“I do these and I think I’m bombing but then you get emails that say ‘you were great’ But no one expects it to be great. So you have to lower the bar on yourself a little bit. But I look at it as a gift to get to try to work a different way and work different muscles.”

Ms. Hall said she hopes this way of performing won’t be the proverbial new normal. But she just doesn’t know.

“If someone said what we are doing now was ever going to happen just three months ago, I would have been like ‘No that’s not right.’ The way things are spiraling and snowballing now, I have no idea,” she said.

She will have new material but don’t expect it to rely too heavily on the bleak current events.

“The stuff I do is mainly making fun of myself with relationships and getting older and all of that. So, the parts that I’ve written, there might be two seconds. I don’t want to do a lot of jokes about COVID in particular and I won’t touch politics or anything like that,” she said.

“But I have found some things. Other things that I thought I would do if I had this time that I really haven’t done any of. I’m calling this my ‘practice pandemic’ and intend to do much better during the next one.

“I can’t be tone deaf about the whole thing but I also can’t make funnies about something that has killed so many people. Some people can but I can’t do it. I tend to just acknowledge that that happened so people can just process it in their own way and just do the jokes about my own experience, which so far hasn’t had anything to illness. That is my strategy. I don’t want to push boundaries to make people feel bad. If you’re paying money to come see me make you laugh, I don’t want to push trauma buttons. That’s just not my style.”

So while she waits for a more normal routine, she and her husband have a podcast called “The HALLway” and she has been coaching aspiring comedians over Zoom on writing as well.

For more information, visit MissyHallComedy.com.

A limited amount of tickets from $11 to $13 are available for tonight’s show. Visit MiltonTheatre.com or call 684-3038. The Milton Theatre is at 110 Union St.

First Friday

Professional fiddler, Nate Grower, will join the roster of First Friday musicians who will be performing in downtown Dover today as buskers from 5 to 7 p.m.

Mr. Grower, from Dover, tours internationally with the David Bromberg Quintet and plays locally with Baltimore-based band, The High & Wides.

Mr. Grower, who will be in front of My Roots on Loockerman Street, will join five additional buskers will be playing and singing outside of shops, many of which just opened this week and are excited to showcase new products, redecorated interiors and/or specialty foods.

Mike Miller will be playing guitar and singing outside of Puffster while House of Coffi will welcome saxophonist Wesley Melvin.

The full lineup of shops and musicians is as follows:

Forney’s Too – Singer/Songwriter Rick Hudson on guitar and harmonica, playing blues, old time country and contemporary pieces.

Grey Fox Grille and Public House – Featuring the classic music of Darren O’Neill, starting at 5:30 p.m.

Tina’s Timeless Threads – Singer/songwriter Mollie Raley Hall on guitar, ukulele, and mandolin, playing an eclectic mix of folk and pop.

SOZO – Singer Daniele Lundin, accompanied by husband Michael on acoustic guitar, features casual acoustic, pop, and inspirational music.

Zuha Trend – Musician William Bentley

The Downtown Dover Partnership seeks artists and musicians for their First Friday and busking activities, which are free.

Parking is free on the street and in permit lots after 5 p.m. on Friday and all weekend. For more information Email Diane@DowntownDoverPartnership.com or call 302-678-2940.

Bandstand concerts canceled

Due to the continuing mandates in place to limit large gatherings and ensure the safety of the public and the performers, all events scheduled for the 2020 Rehoboth Beach Bandstand Summer Concert Series have been canceled.

“Ensuring the welfare of our audience as well as our performers is of particular importance when considering the possibility of promoting events that are in excess of safe attendee limits. The events at the Rehoboth Beach Bandstand provide enormous opportunities for personal contact in close quarters,” said Corey Groll, program director, in a statement.

“As an open-air concert venue, we are unable to safely enforce social distancing while adequately providing an opportunity to gather for our performances. In addition, it is duly important for us to properly notify our performers within an acceptable amount of time who may have opportunities to perform at venues capable of meeting the current safety protocols. We know that in making this difficult choice, we are ensuring the continued health and safety of our city and our patrons while making certain that future musical events will be possible on our stage.”

For more information, visit www.rehobothbandstand.com.

Smyrna Opera House

Two shows at the Smyrna Opera House have been rescheduled.

The June 20 show Lights Out presents The Jersey Beach Boys has been rescheduled for Aug. 29 at 7:30 p.m.

The dual show Billy Joel tribute and Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On (a 50s and 60s tribute), which was to play April 18 has been rescheduled for Aug. 22 at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets purchased for the original dates will be honored for the new dates

For more information, email admin@smyrnaoperahouse.org or call 302-653-4236 and leave a message.

Now Showing

On DVD and download starting Tuesday is “The Hunt.”