Rich Howells

NEPA comics Zack Hammond and Dan Hoppel wrap up national tour in Dunmore on July 31

NEPA comics Zack Hammond and Dan Hoppel wrap up national tour in Dunmore on July 31
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As venues began to open again in the spring, Northeastern Pennsylvania comedians Zack Hammond and Dan Hoppel wasted no time getting back on the road to give people what they need most after the worst year in living memory – a really good laugh.

Friends and fans back home have been following their cross-country exploits on social media, and this weekend they’ll be able to see them live in person at the San Cataldo Club in Hoppel’s hometown of Dunmore on Saturday, July 31.

“Zack asking me to open for him on his national tour was a dream come true. Two months straight on the road was an amazing and surreal experience. If I never get to do anything like this again, I’m still so grateful,” he told NEPA Scene.

“And now we are doing our homecoming show two blocks from the house I grew up in, about 600 feet from where I had my first kiss in the parking lot behind St. Anthony’s Church, at a drinking hall that has been a Dunmore staple for about 300 years. It’s wild, and I can’t wait.”

This dinner and a show with host Andy Kuhn and special guests Brian Lee Yox and Dave Savage was moved from The Keystone Stage & Event Room in Dickson City to the San Cataldo Club (316 Elizabeth St., Dunmore) to offer more seats. Tickets, which are $30 for both food and entertainment, are on sale now via Eventbrite. Dinner will be served at 5 p.m., and the show starts at 6:15 p.m.

Hammond, who is headlining the night, spoke to NEPA Scene last year about releasing his fourth album, “…Because I’m Considerate,” online during the pandemic.

“I had been doing the act that became the album for about a year and a half to two years, which is usually the ripe point for me, and I was able to take the act to any venue in any town and it was working. Six months ago, I figured I would just record every set – I own a Zoom H4n recorder – and pick the best one as the album. Three months in, the world decided to end and I didn’t know when I would get on stage again and still perform the act with the same confidence and timing. Luckily, I had recorded a great set in Delaware and decided that that set would be the album,” the Nanticoke resident recalled in the July 2020 interview.

“The place was sold out with over 100 people, and they were an amazing audience. Luck would also have it that the night before in Virginia, I pissed off a group of teachers with a bit about teachers fucking kids. I talked about the incident for the first time on this show and it was perfect. A lot of things just went right on this night in Newark and I said to my opener, Ellen Doyle, ‘This is the album’ after I got off stage.”

His comedic style is unapologetically dark and morbid, so those who are easily offended should probably stay home this weekend, as Hoppel and the other featured acts from Pennsylvania and New York share his gallows humor.

“I’m broken,” Hammond bluntly admitted.

“It’s just what I find funny, and I have tried and failed at writing jokes that are palatable to a wide range of people. I enjoy being open about my flaws and failures, and I get a thrill at presenting my warped view of the world to anyone that will listen. I make sure there are jokes, though… always got to be jokes.”

In an era where a small but vocal minority can ruin careers over jokes posted online, Hammond isn’t worried about losing fans or being “canceled.”

“I’m willing to have people pissed at me and fight with me over what I joke about. I tell fucked up jokes – I’m going to get fucked up responses. However, when it comes to ‘canceling’ people, that’s where it goes too far. The idea that a comic can lose work because of people who weren’t coming out to see them in the first place is so confusing to me. We are in a supply and demand world. If I have something that people want to see and pay money for, why does someone or a group of people who don’t support and never supported me have a say in what other people want to enjoy? It’s jokes – they’re not to be taken seriously. They aren’t statements. They are words coming out of a clown’s face. Why anyone would take them seriously is beyond me,” he explained.

“Comedy is there to make people laugh, and comics are like flavors of ice cream – some you like, some you don’t. If you don’t like what someone jokes about, walk away and find someone who you do like. You don’t have a right to be offended, but you do have the ability to enjoy the things that don’t offend you. Try that.”

Learn more about Zack Hammond, Dan Hoppel, and their experiences on the Brewery Comedy Tour in Episode 79 of the NEPA Scene Podcast:

Photos by Rich Howells/NEPA Scene