The Story of VCC
What began as a labor of love for husband and wife Nathan Hartswick and Natalie Miller grew into a robust community - and eventually, a comedy venue and training center.
As comedians with few chances to perform in their home state of Vermont, Nathan and Natalie decided to create their own opportunities, and began producing shows in 2010. The pair mounted performances around the state in bowling alleys, bars, restaurants, church basements and living rooms.
In 2011, they began teaching comedy classes at a small studio in the South End. They also started co-producing the Green Mountain Comedy Festival and founded the VT's Funniest Comedian contest. As the scene grew from a dozen die hard comedians and fans to a large community with hundreds of performers (and thousands of fans), Nathan and Natalie began long-term planning to create a comedy venue and training center in downtown Burlington - one that would make comedy accessible to everyone.
The Armory Building
As Nathan and Natalie built their business plan and searched for a location in Burlington large enough to accommodate the project, the Armory building at 101 Main Street was only a dream. The space, home to several nightclubs in the past (Sh'Na-Na's in the 90s and Hunt's in the 80s), had burned over 10 years earlier, and was now a large dirt pit. The couple, like every other artist in Burlington, had often passed by the big empty space dreaming about the possibilities of such a beautiful old building.
Little did they know, the good folks at Redstone and Nedde Real Estate had begun building a beautiful 139-room Hilton Garden Inn behind the building, with a lobby and lounge on the top floor of the Armory, and they were looking for something unique and exciting to occupy the 6,000' of space on the ground level.
In the fall of 2014, after years of careful planning, Nathan and Natalie launched a Kickstarter campaign that announced to the world their intention to build a permanent home for comedy in Vermont. (You can watch the video, which raised over $30,000, below.)
Because Nathan and Natalie were raised in the Northeast Kingdom and come from low-income backgrounds, the funds for the project did not come easily. Renovating the Armory space would take more than a half-million dollars. Through a combination of visionary investors, loans, and gifts, Nathan and Natalie were able to raise the funds necessary to begin construction in summer 2015.
The VCC Space
In November 2015, Vermont Comedy Club opened its doors to the public for the first time. A large upscale lounge greets patrons as they come through the Main Street entrance, where a selection of creative cocktails, craft beers and wines are available (as well as fun, tasty snacks). A separate showroom - which features standup & improv shows 5 nights a week - seats 150 people at small cabaret tables. Customers can order drinks and appetizers and enjoy some of the best local, regional and national talent available. VCC also has a classroom, offering comedy classes, workshops and camps year-round.
What Makes This Community Special
So why build a home for this community, at this time, in this city? The video below should give you a good idea. The Vermont comedy scene is a pretty special thing, full of wonderful, talented folks who love to make people laugh. Check it out: