Q. What did the Canada goose say at Town Meeting?
A. I just flew in from the Common, and are my wings tired!

Who needs to drive up Route 1 and pay the $10 cover charge at Nick’s Comedy Stop at Kowloon when you can see some of the best local comedy talent for free right here at the Galvin Middle School auditorium on Monday and Thursday nights? The bar service is lousy, but as long as you’re a registered voter, you can sign in, sit down and – who knows? You might even get to step up to the mike and deliver a one-liner or two yourself.

Forget open town meeting. Welcome to Open Mike Town Meeting.

Walking into last Monday night’s Town Meeting, you got the feeling that a warrant that included articles about geese and a crematory was going to bring out the comedians in the crowd. After passing a $50 million town budget in 30 minutes with no discussion, Town Meeting spent an hour debating a $15,000 appropriation to use a Border Collie firm to rid the town parks of Canada geese, and another hour on a proposal by a local cemetery to install a crematory.

“There’s a joke in there somewhere,” one town official remarked even before Moderator Bill Carroll banged the opening gavel. It didn’t take long for most people to find it. As the saying goes, “Everybody’s a comedian.” That proved almost true Monday night.

First, Town Administrator Thomas Butler warmed up the crowd with his annual budget routine. Then Moderator Carroll got the comedy ball rolling during the discussion of using Border collies to chase the geese from local parks and fields.
Bill Carroll
“Are you going to use the phrase `wild goose chase?’” Carroll asked as Selectman Jim Good rose to speak on the issue. Carroll joked that he was “disappointed that nobody’s used it so far. It’s right there, waiting for somebody.”

Unfortunately, his disappointment didn’t last long.

In response to a question from Jim Scott, Carroll took some time to clarify the exact nature of the motion that the meeting was about to vote on, prompting Scott to quip, “You’re trying to put me on a wild goose chase.”

Stealing material is a grand tradition in comedy.

But there’s nothing like a good crematory discussion to inspire the budding comic, even if the joke was so painfully obvious that up to this point no one had bothered to use it.

“The only thing I can think of that might be positive about the crematory,” Chris Hickey of Linda Road said, “is if we could figure out a way to burn the geese.”

Carroll couldn’t resist. “With shallots and a Madeira wine sauce?” he ad-libbed.

But Water Street’s “Bob Hope” McLaughlin probably got off the best line of the night. McLaughlin became highly identified with the forces opposed to the new Shaw’s supermarket in Wakefield, so when he stepped up to the microphone to discuss the crematory, Carroll deadpanned, “They’re not putting one in Shaw’s.”

But McLaughlin was ready.

“I’ve been dying to get up here,” he said.

He’s got a million of ‘em, folks.

[The column originally appeared in the Wakefield Daily Item.]


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