By Regina Stracqualursi
Kevin Turner ’14 can recall the moments when he first fell in love with comedy. During long road trips, his family of seven would cram into a Honda Odyssey and watch comedy specials together. Watching stand-up comedy inspired him to create short comedy films of his own. “One day I made The Watch, a short about a boy who discovers a watch that goes back in time — one second,” he said. “At the climax of that film, dad howled, and I think I’ve been chasing that feeling since.”
Despite feeling hesitant to perform live in front of his peers, when he first came to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, he joined the university’s improv group, Sheer Idiocy. It was there that he met Isabel Johnson ’16. Johnson, who was also a student-athlete, ended up in a session with Sheer Idiocy during her freshman orientation — not by choice — but because the ultimate frisbee group was full. She had never tried improv before, but quickly developed a passion for comedy. “At the end of the day, I just love making people laugh,” said Johnson. “I hope that with comedy, I can brighten someone’s day!”
After graduating from Rensselaer, Turner, who was part of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, went into active duty with the United States Air Force. Johnson pursued the Comedy Studies Program at The Second City in Chicago and upon completing that, moved back to her hometown in Minnesota, where she became a producer of a women in comedy group and began her career as an environmental, health, and safety consultant. Years later, comedy brought them back together in Boston, Massachusetts.
When Turner moved to the East Coast to pursue comedy, he reached out to Johnson, who had also moved east to pursue an environmental engineering position with Thermo Fisher Scientific. He asked if she wanted to help produce a comedy show. From their collaboration, Hubbub Comedy was born.
Though finding a venue proved to be difficult due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Turner and Johnson did not let that stop them. While many comedy shows take place in theaters, clubs, and bars, Hubbub Comedy was initially hosted in Turner’s apartment. With 40 folding chairs, a stage, and some snacks and beverages, the show went on!
For two years, Turner and Johnson hosted shows along with help of four local comedians and their talented DJ show host. This summer, they also hosted two sold-out shows at local breweries. “From what we have heard from the comedians, there is nothing else like this in Boston, and we are thrilled by that,” said Johnson.
The dynamic duo is now hoping to expand Hubbub Comedy to New York City, where Turner is currently pursuing an internship with The Late Show With Stephen Colbert. “We hope Hubbub Comedy lives on!” Turner said.