Comedy night, Lakes Region style

MEREDITH — There may be a lot of laughing, but it's no joke – comedy has taken a hold in the Lakes Region. Pitman's Freight Room in Laconia had its first stand-up comedy three years ago, and now has at least one comedy performance per month. This month, a venue in Meredith will seek to tap into the local market for comedy, when Church Landing hosts Jim Colliton on Nov. 28.

Michelle Brown, marketing production manager at Mill Falls on the Lake, said the Church Landing ballroom has hosted comedy before as fundraisers for local organizations, which were well received. This time, though, the hospitality company is hosting a comic to try to encourage guests who have booked a room for Thanksgiving to extend their stay through the weekend. Tickets for the show cost $25, or $15 for those who have an overnight reservation for one of the Mill Falls properties. The room has a capacity of about 220, and Brown said half of those tickets have already been spoken for. Those who wish to buy tickets may do so at the Meredith Mobil station or at the Church Landing front desk. Remaining tickets will also be available at the door.

"We're doing it to push overnight rooms. Opening it up to the public is the icing on the cake," said Brown.

Colliton, who tours nationally and has appeared on Comedy Central, has built his reputation on being funny as well as clean, basing his humor on his experience as a suburban father and husband.

"I think it will be a good show," said Brown, adding that she expects to host more comedians to draw guests during the off seasons.

Mill Falls is following in the footsteps of Pitman's Freight Room, which recently celebrated its third year of comedy nights. Dick Mitchell, who owns Pitman's, had repurposed the track-side building, originally constructed to hold railroad freight, from an antique store to a performance venue, when he was contacted by Mike Smith of Laugh Riot Productions. Smith, who books Boston and New York based comics for gigs in New Hampshire, said he had heard from musicians about the venue.

Smith said he is always looking for a "new room" to book, and he was especially intrigued by what he had heard about Pitman's. It's a relatively intimate space, where the performer is in close proximity to nearly every audience member.

"After three years, we've established a great clientele, the comedians are all high-level," said Smith, and the Pitman's usual practice of keeping ticket prices low and allowing guests to bring their own beverages makes for an affordable night out.

Mitchell said the comedy nights have turned into reliable successes for the small venue. The first show sold 86 tickets, and they have since been averaging about 150 tickets each month. Booking a good music act can be a challenge. Even the best jazz group will fail to draw folk fans, and vice versa.

"The music is kind of genre-specific. Everybody comes out for comedy," he said.

Pitman's will also host a comedy show on Nov. 28, when local comedy veteran Bucky Lewis takes the stage. Tickets for that show will be $15.

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Screening committee for school super’t named

LACONIA — School Board members have named the following people to be on the Screening Committee for the Laconia School District superintendent's search: Joe Cormier; city resident and former School Board chairman; andStacie Sirois and Scott Vachon, who are both School Board members. Sirois and Vachon will serve as committee co-chairs.
Also serving are school district Business Administrator Ed Emond; Geoff Gray, a parent; Kim O'Neill, an educational assistant; Jen O'Reilly, who is a parent and a member of the district staff; and Jennifer Sottak, a student services coordinator.
Joining them are staff member and parent Regina Theberge, School District Academic Coordinator for Teaching and Learning Steve Tucker, and Police Chief Chris Adams.
According to the school district website, the screenings are scheduled to begin on Nov. 30 and last through Dec. 3. Recommendations are due to the School Board on Dec. 7.
The school district is looking to replace former Superintendent Terri Forsten, who is now the superintendent in the Concord School District. In the interim, the district hired retired Inter Lakes Superintendent Phil McCormack to administratively head the district.
The information has been posted on the website, said newly elected School Board Chairman Stacie Sirois, for about a week. The board discussed it last night when former teacher Richard Coggon asked them why the list hadn't appeared in a local news paper.



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Belmont Police arrest would-be burglar

BELMONT – Police arrested a Laconia man after he was caught red-handed climbing through the window of a woman's home on Jamestown Road yesterday at 12:56 p.m.
Steven M. Belanger, 30, no street address given, is charged with one count of burglary, one count of operating a motor vehicle after a license suspension and one court of misuse of plates. He is being held on $5,000 cash-only bail and is scheduled to appear in the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division this morning.
Police said the woman told them that she heard a saw an unknown man knocking on her door. She didn't open the door but watched him as he walked to the rear of her property and then called the police.
While still on the phone with police, she reported to them he was opening a window in the rear kitchen of her home and was crawling through it. When he encountered her, she told them he ran from her back deck and got into a black four-door sedan that was parked in her driveway.
Police said she was able to photograph the car and give police a description such that patrol officers located the car quickly and arrested Belanger. Where the police stopped him is unknown at this time.
Police said the resident did the right thing by not opening the door to a stranger and alerting them in time to make an arrest.

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