GLOVERSVILLE – Mayfield native Tommy McClellan-Willard has spent years finding humor in even the toughest situations.
His latest show, called “1942” is a testament to that work but more than that, it’s in honor of his late grandmother Carolyn Bayes who helped to raise McClellan-Willard.
“I was very close with my grandma,” McClellan-Willard said. After an illness, she died late last year.
“The whole show is about her and dealing with loss and grief,” McClellan-Willard said.
It premieres at The Glove Theatre on Saturday, where it’ll be filmed to create McClellan-Willard’s first stand-up special.
The Philadelphia resident started writing comedy as a kid as a way to cope with mental health issues. During his career, he’s appeared on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” and his comedy album “Life Skills” was a bestseller on Amazon.
He started writing “1942” shortly after she died.
“[She was] just the most selfless woman,” McClellan-Willard said.
She raised him along with his mother and McClellan-Willard remembers his grandmother making him and his brother breakfast and lunch and seeing them off to school.
“She was the absolute best,” McClellan-Willard said when asked to describe her.
“How do you encapsulate somebody you love this much off the top of your head? That’s why the show is important because I wrote it diligently over and over and over again and so I really capture what she meant to me and why what my family went through is sad, but it’s really funny too. It’s just very universal.”
“I started doing comedy when I was 12 years old and the reason I fell in love with it was this sense of ‘Hey, you’re not alone, you’re not crazy.’ It’s a comforting thing. And so that’s what I want the show to be like,” McClellan-Willard said.
Presenting the show — and filming the special — locally was also important to him.
“The reason I chose to film it at The Glove Theatre [is] because I love the community and love the history behind the Glove Theater, but [also] because this is about my grandma,” McClellan-Willard said.
She was a Gloversville native and the show’s title, “1942,” is a reference to the year she was born.
It will be filmed by Steel Horse Productions and hosted by Nick Anker, McClellan-Willard’s former teacher at Mayfield, and longtime friend.
“Once we edit it, I’m going to take it out and pitch it places and shop it around,” McClellan-Willard said.
He plans to offer it up to Netflix and other streaming services and possibly YouTube.
“I’m open to it going wherever it will do the best,” McClellan-Willard said.
The 18 and up show starts at 7 p.m., Saturday and general admission tickets start at $20. For more information visit theglovetheatre.com.
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Categories: Entertainment, Life and Arts, Life and Arts