(Pictured left to right: Karen Safran, William Weiner, Alyce Blum, Hannah Clements, Abbi Heller, Chelsea Rasis, and Vicki Rottman)

Laughing Out Loud with the Mizel Arts and Culture Center

Written by Shlomit Ovadia of JCC Denver

Last month, six funny people took to the stage for the very first time at the Mizel Arts and Culture Center at the JCC for a night of laughs by performing their “Tight Five” sets at the Elaine Wolf Theatre.”  

The Tight Five Workshop is a 6-week standup series that culminates in a live performance of a comedian’s best 5-minutes of material, giving adults the chance to get out of their comfort zones and try something fun and new. 

Hannah Clements, 36, learned about the class last year when one of her sister Erin’s best friends from high school named Elise was performing in Tight Five, and urged the girls to come out and watch her. 

Having always admired her sister’s friend, Hannah decided to tag along, and loved it.  

“You’ve got to do this,” Hannah recalls her sister pressing her after the show, but Hannah says she was a little hesitant.  

“I love making people laugh and humor is a big part of my life, but actually getting up on stage was not exactly a box I was looking to tick.” Yet funnily enough, Erin had already enrolled her sister as a gift. 

“I’m so glad I did it,” Hannah reflects. Since having her daughter two years ago, “parenting has been just a whirlwind and adjustment. I was certainly in this parental routine and needed to get back to a little more of my adult self and what that used to feel like,” she tells me. 

The teacher, Abbi Heller—an alumnus of the Tight Five’s inaugural class and current high school teacher—made everyone feel right at ease.  “Abbi was super personable and had a lot of insight and tips that made the information accessible.” she says. “She also shared her own vulnerabilities which allowed us students to open up as well.” 

“One of the things I really appreciated about Tight Five was the group itself. We were such an eclectic and diverse group of people from all walks of life, and this amazing comradery formed from it.” 

Hannah remembers how fun it was to learn the process of honing one’s craft, from the feedback she’d get from fellow classmates about tightening up content to Abbi helping her zhuzh up her delivery. 

During performance night, Hannah was the first of the Tight Five students to perform. “The audience was rooting for everyone. Just hearing how they responded to each performer, we were able to draw on that energy.” 

Despite this being her first Mizel Arts and Culture Center experience, Hannah “felt so incredibly welcomed. You can just feel this strong sense of community, advocacy, and support by the audience and everyone there.” 

Between comedy, art, and other creative opportunities, the Mizel Arts and Culture Center at the JCC has something for everyone to choose their own adventure. Keep your eyes peeled for our next Tight Five Workshop by visiting our website to stay updated.