GLOVERSVILLE – Comedian Tommy McClellan will return to his roots Friday night to perform a Glove Theatre show centered on running, mental health and family.
“One of the reasons I love coming back to doing shows in Fulton County is because I started running and doing comedy there, and it gave me everything,” McClellan said.
McClellan grew up in Gloversville and attended Mayfield Central Schools, managing to break many of the school’s running records before graduating in 2013. He went on to run at Iona College, where he also studied mass communications.
In between running and studying, McClellan interned on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” and performed at comedy clubs in New York City, testing out material at EastVille Comedy Club and Stand Up NY, among others. He also trained at the celebrated Upright Citizens Brigade and released a comedy album, “Life Skills,” in 2019.
“I just became obsessed with comedy when I was around 12,” McClellan said. Adam Sandler’s film “Big Daddy” started it all.
“My whole comedy world just sort of exploded from learning who that guy was,” McClellan said. “Had I not seen that movie, [I’d] be curious to see who I would be right now.”
It led him to shows like “Saturday Night Live” and a variety of other comedians. More than entertainment, watching and writing comedy also became a way to cope with mental health struggles.
“I’ve had just horrible anxiety and depression, and all these mental struggles . . . my entire life. I would turn to comedians, once I started getting into Adam Sandler, to help me cope,” McClellan said. “I really should have just [seen] a therapist . . . but at the time, I remember specific comedians talking about things and it just made me feel a little more human.”
Growing up, McClellan would practice stand-up material at talent shows or wherever he could find listeners.
“I would ambush my friends and be like, ‘Hey guys, want to come over and hang out?’ They’d be like, ‘Sure, that sounds good.’ And then when we’d all get in the basement, I’d [say] ‘OK, listen to these jokes,’” McClellan said.
The practice gave him the foundation he needed to perform at clubs around New York. Today, he’s represented by Stand-Up Global, a comedy production company with local ties. He and his wife, Anastasia, live in Philadelphia, where they run a company called Runner’s Joy. McClellan remains an avid runner and brings that side of his life into his comedy.
“The show I’m doing at the Glove Theatre, it’s called the Laugh & Run Show and . . . it’s really about mental health, but I shroud it in the guise of running,” McClellan said.
While he doesn’t plan to talk directly about COVID-19, McClellan will touch on the mental health impacts the pandemic has had, as well as on how running and his family have shaped him.
“This all sounds very serious, [but] I have legitimate jokes that I have worked out for years in comedy clubs. It’s going to be funny,” McClellan promised.
The show will be hosted by Nick Anker, owner of Small Town Sound and one of McClellan’s former teachers. His high school running coach Ryan Bornt will have a booth for the Mayfield Nordic Ski Team.
McClellan said he hopes “to get people hyped about the local community sports team because just like comedy shaped my life, if I hadn’t started running and skiing at Mayfield . . . I don’t know who I’d be. I’m very, very grateful to that community.”
Friday will mark the first time in five years that McClellan has performed a hometown show.
“The past couple of years it’s been really hard, and I just want people to come and have a good time,” McClellan said. “The intention is just to have a great night of comedy and music and laughs and community.”
The evening kicks off at 7 p.m. and will also feature Lauren Turczak, Mo Haskins, Eion Falance and Victoria Diana. Tickets are $15-$35. For information, visit theglovetheatre.com. For more on McClellan, visit standupglobal.com.