Meet the young performer bringing inclusivity and kindness (plus sex and tourettes jokes) to the scene
Sometimes, Mary Spadaro has to be nice first and funny second.
The comedian’s whip-smart observations are among their hallmarks, but so are the kindness and inclusion she brings to the Boston comedy scene. As the host and co-producer of the underground club at Mooyah Burgers, Fries, and Shakes downtown, Spadaro has created a safe, supportive, and fun environment—even over hurdles that have come along the way.
As a recent graduate of Emerson College’s comedic arts program, Spadaro’s first open mic was at Mooyah. Three years later, she’s running it, having inherited the show from older students in their school’s comedy troupe, Chocolate Cake City. With the inheritance came some rules: in a progressive and exciting change from other clubs and shows, male performers get five minutes on stage, while female performers get seven.
Spadaro took this in stride, but modified it slightly: now, men get five minutes, and all non-male performers get seven. Spadaro explains that two minutes makes a world of difference in terms of the material comics can work out. This has led to both the open mics on Mondays and regular Friday shows being well-attended by women, even as the spot still mostly fills with men.
The Boston comedy scene is the only scene that Spadaro knows (unless you count a standup summer camp), and the Mooyah show is a microcosm of the scene here in general. As a very active participant, Spadaro sees it all, including the flaws. According to Spadaro, comics can “be very weird here,” and “as long as it is funny, it will work.” She argues that darker jokes go over better in Boston compared to other major cities like New York, which has allowed for Spadaro to speak about things they didn’t talk about in their small Pennsylvania hometown, such as tourettes, eating disorders, “gay stuff,” and sex.
But even with this comedic freedom in mind, she is still very cognizant of the problems throughout the Boston comedy world.
Despite very few women being in the scene due to seixsm, misogyny, and racism, those who are around support and uplift each other. Spadaro explains that many show promoters act as though once they’ve booked one female comic, they have filled their “one-woman spot.” This dynamic, however, hasn’t necessarily created a competitive and unpleasant atmosphere amongst female comedians; in their experience, many women have “gone to bat” for Spadaro. She cites an instance of another female comic stepping in on their behalf after they performed well at a show but did not get re-booked.
Companionship and camaraderie with some friendly comics aside, Spadaro says she has definitely had some difficult experiences with male comics in Boston. When she took over the Mooyah show, it was obvious that some people did not like that a femme was hosting it. This resulted in harassment from male comics, which even progressed to a point where a man cornered Spadaro about not finding his joke about vaginas funny. They try very hard to “not be a hard ass,” but ultimately have to “cut people off when they’re assholes,” she says.
Prioritizing safety for all comics is a pillar of what she is trying to do with the Mooyah show. On social media, the description for the ongoing event reads that it’s “a very important comedy show in the basement of a burger restaurant.” The statement is tinged with irony and sarcasm, but in reality, the work they’re doing—considering kindness and inclusivity in the standup space—is no small feat.
The next Moo Friday show is July 29 and open mics are every Monday. Check out @moocomedyboston on instagram for updated dates and times.
Katherine (Kate) Healy is a Publishing master’s student at Emerson College. She mostly writes feminist nonfiction which can be read in Fettucine the Zine, Mode Magazine, and her personal diary. Her hobbies include drinking too much redbull, developing crushes on people she’s never met, and listening to sad music.