One of the hardest hit industries during the pandemic has no doubt been the performance industry. Even as things begin to cautiously open back up, performance venues locally and beyond have been hesitant to jump back into performing, but that doesn’t mean that those whose lives are made up of being on the stage don’t want to; many feel like they need to express their art. Fortunately, necessity is the mother of invention.
On Saturday, July 11 Wally Wallace opened up his personal backyard and his neighbor’s (with their approval) to host comedians Sam Tallent, Nathan Lund, Lily Ostberg, and Jay Gillespie. Tickets sold fast with nearly 50 people making up the audience that was spread across two back yards on Kansas St. in Trinidad. A futuristic, wild and wacky car from Art Cartopia Museum was also on display in front of the house, welcoming people as they arrived and dazzling people with its many flickering lights as they left.
So Tasty set up a booth in the driveway and audience members were required to wear masks as they checked in, got food, and made their way to their seats. Parties were spaced at least six-feet apart from each other, in some cases more. Ultimately there was plenty of room to spread out and be comfortable and likely the whole block heard the acts. DJ Spacely (James Howard) provided sound for the event.
Wallace is also the Economic Coordinator for the City of Trinidad, but before that was most well known for establishing the Southwest Chief Bicycling and Comedy Festival which brought in a plethora of comedians performing in numerous downtown locations. Using his past experience and connections in radio and media production, he was able to bring in big talent, like Sam Tallent who enjoyed his time in Trinidad enough to come back for yet another performance.
“It’s good to be back in Trinidad,” said Tallent. “The Southwest Chief was a raving success as far as I’m concerned. We know and love Wally so, when he talked about doing another show I was down. Trinidad is cool.”
Tallent recently had a book published, “Running the Light” and earlier this year was thoroughly embraced by Will Smith on stage during Smith’s show “This Joker” on Quibi.
“He was clinging to me,” said Tallent. “I just want to cuddle up to that $800 sweater and forget about all my s**t.”
Sharing the stage with Tallent was comedian and new Trinidad resident Jay Gillespie.
“My wife and I have been living in a van for two years,” said Gillespie. “It’s been an interesting journey. We went to 32 National Parks and both of us did comedy all over them.”
After a great experience at the Southwest Chief festival, Gillespie said they felt it was a great area to call home.
“We decided it was time to settle down somewhere,” said Gillespie, “and Wally Wallace sang the praises of Trinidad. It was great when we did the Southwest Chief last year so we decided to put down some roots. We really enjoy the outdoors and Trinidad seems like the right place to be.”
All four performing comedians on Saturday brought huge laughs and audience members left with multiple individuals saying they “felt safe” and “had the most fun [they’ve] had in months.”
Wallace said he was really glad he could bring something to do back on the calendar, adding he had wanted to have the Southwest Chief fest again but with the pandemic had to side step a little.
“It’s something I’ve wanted to do and wanted to bring back here again,” said Wallace. “I think we need more activities that bring people together here in town.
Wallace said he reached out for sponsors in town to help bring the comedians down and there were numerous businesses who said they were happy to pitch in.
“Trinidad Higher Calling U (THCU) said they would do the headliner sponsorship,” Wallace said. “The Fox Theater in Walsenburg wanted to sponsor it, too. Also Crafted in Colorado, a store in Walsenburg where they sell specifically Colorado made products, said they would like to support it, as well. It was kind of a pieced together thing with different businesses who wanted to support any type of event happening in town.”
Also helping out financially was Startek, a windshield repair company in town. Other companies provided in-kind support including SoCo Quick Clean, who donated two rooms for the performers, the Trinidad Tech Shop who provided all the chairs and tables and sold masks, and Main Street Liquor gave over $100 worth of alcohol as a donation.
While Wallace said he does plan to do another show sometime in the not-too-distant future, with a deep breath he added that if possible he’d love to explore some other potential options for locations to host the show.
“There’s so much work involved in putting on one of these things,” said Wallace, “and also add on top of that trying to get my yard ready in time; I was exhausted. I would like to do it again, I’m just not sure if I’m actually going to do it in my back yard again because of the issues with noise like the dogs barking and my neighbor who was doing the chainsaw work.”
He added that there’s a chance he may have another show next month and there is little doubt that it will be a laugh — in the best way.