With plenty of shows and lofty goals, Ms. Draper is enjoying the comedic life
CHELMSFORD, MA (June 2, 2022) – She may not have realized it back in her Chelmsford High School days, but the comedy industry was subtly beckoning Janelle Draper. A 2007 graduate, she was always the one making others laugh.
Fifteen years later, Ms. Draper will be doing the same Saturday night when she features at the Wilbur Theater to open for Brian Glowacki. Tickets cost $27 and can be purchased The Wilbur Theater website. The evening will be hosted by another Boston-based comic, Alex Giampapa, and begins at 9:45 p.m.
With a full house expected, a large portion of the audience will be from Chelmsford and parts nearby. It is a landmark event as the production is a combined effort of the three comics – without agents and booking teams. “This is a DIY grassroots project,” said Ms. Draper. “This is a good opportunity for local talent. Hopefully it opens more doors for other locally established acts.”
It is especially meaningful for Ms. Draper, who was handpicked by Mr. Glowacki, along with Mr. Giampapa, to open for him. “It is special that he asked me since there are hundreds of great comics in the city,” she noted.
It is a busy time for Ms. Draper, who appeared at the Rhode Island Comedy Festival in Newport May 26-28 and is scheduled to double up on Thursday and Friday: She’ll appear at both the White Bull Tavern and Democracy Brewing Thursday night, then both Democracy Brewing and The Comedy Studio Friday night, before Saturday’s show at The Wilbur.
Despite her full schedule, Ms. Draper recently moved back to Los Angeles (she had lived there from 2010-14) after living in New York City the last eight years. While Boston has produced some of the greatest-ever comedians, New York and Los Angeles are the epicenters of the industry.
It’s the life of an aspiring comedian. Even into her 30s, Ms. Draper is enjoying every minute. Among other subjects, it’s a life she often pokes fun at in her act. “My world is wide open for material,” she quipped. “It’s a lot of fun to hop from show to show,” she quipped. “You can really hone the art and see what’s working and what’s not.”
Societal pressure to ‘settle down,’ her own breakups while her friends marry, her workplace, and even her own family’s quirks provide her more than enough material. Her father, Ron Draper, told her time and again she should give comedy a try. Thus, she took his advice and attended classes in 2012 in Los Angeles.
“I never took it seriously until I moved to New York in 2014,” noted Ms. Draper who has been a creative marketing executive with AMC networks, specifically Acorn TV and Sundance Now, two of many streaming services under the AMC portfolio, since 2014. She began her career at AMC doing comedy development for IFC TV on hit shows such as Portlandia and Comedy Bang! Bang!, giving her direct access to the art and production of TV comedy.
Ms. Draper never imagined a career in comedy during her days at CHS, though she was performing comedy before she realized. She was a voice student of CHS Theatre Director Lauren Cochran – a big supporter, Ms. Draper said – and performed in The Red Ruby of Calcutta and other CHS productions. Auditioning admittedly made her uneasy, however. She naturally made other people laugh, particularly her cheer and track and field teammates.
“I did things that would make other people laugh,” she recalled. “I would break up any tension. I didn’t get embarrassed easily, but when it came to auditioning, I would get really nervous.”
Ms. Draper fondly recalls a story about an essay she wrote prior to attending Stonehill, about what she wanted to bring to college: She wanted to bring a human form of entertainment.
While she forges on with her standup, Ms. Draper’s goal is to create and star in her own comedy series. She has already developed several pilots, which she hopes attracts the attention of one of the networks.
“It’s the Amy Schumer model,” she said. “That’s what I’m gunning for. And I just want to keep creating and performing around the clock.”
About Chelmsford Public Schools
The Chelmsford Public School District provides all students with multiple pathways to optimize their own potential for academic excellence, leadership, and social and emotional wellness. The mission of the Chelmsford Public Schools is to educate, engage, prepare, and empower well-rounded and knowledgeable learners to PERSEVERE through challenges, demonstrate RESPECT and INTEGRITY in their words and actions, are DEDICATED to their community, and display EMPATHY as global citizens while discovering and pursuing their full potential. This PRIDE-driven culture enables all members of the school community to support the growth and development of students. For more information, please visit www.chelmsfordschools.org.