Theater & art

Rise

Comic Bethany van Delft in touch with her inner nerd

Tracy Aiguier

Age: “40-ish”

Hometown: Born in New York City, but grew up in Boston.

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Think of: She’s hip and grounded like Aisha Tyler but with a more laid-back delivery. Van Delft once labeled herself a “ghetto nerd” in her act. Driving through her neighborhood, she was infuriated by a couple of slow pedestrians crossing in front of her car and yelled, “You better get your [butt] out of the street, you don’t have a force field.”

What caught our eye: Her dry wit stood out at early shows at The Comedy Studio and the annual “ColorStruck: Women of Color in Comedy.”

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Light bulb moment: Van Delft stopped doing comedy for a few years when stand-up wasn’t the nonstop laugh ride she thought it would be. Then she watched the documentary “Comedian” and saw that big-name comics like Jerry Seinfeld and Colin Quinn feel anxiety sometimes, too. “I saw, ‘Oh, that’s just a feeling that doing comedy gives you,’ ” she says.

Biggest thrill: Opening for Maria Bamford at the Wilbur in 2013. “Hanging in the green room was amazing, but then sitting on the side of the stage watching her, that was mind-blowing. Just to be right there, that close to her, and watch her come up with stuff was amazing.”

Biggest surprise: “That I actually do this at all. That I actually get on a stage anywhere and say stuff is my biggest surprise. I would never have believed if you’d asked me when I was young if I’d be doing a thing like this.”

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Inspired by: “Reading a great story or hearing a great story. The comedians that inspire me most are great storytelling comedians. Locally, Lamont Price.”

Aspires to: She’d like to be able to make people laugh the way Tig Notaro did in her acclaimed set on her “Live” album, when she talked about having cancer. “Being able to be very honest and in it, in the moment, and at the same time, off the cuff and very funny and engaging. I aspire to be a great, funny storyteller.”

For good luck: “I wish I had something that worked,” she says. “Every gig I come up with something stupider than the last gig.” The last good-luck charm was a voodoo doll purchased before an audition for “Last Comic Standing” — but she wasn’t chosen. “It said on the tag that this is definitely going to work, this voodoo doll will show you in the light that you are meant to be seen in and make people see what a star you are and admire your talents.” Now she’s mad at it, she jokes, but she’s afraid to throw it out.

What people should know: After dialing back her career to be a stay-at-home mom, van Delft is back to working as much as she can. She was all over the Boston Comedy Festival this month and plans to start a monthly “Artisanal Comedy” show at Dorchester’s Savin Bar & Kitchen in January. As for her comic style, she’s not sure she agrees with the consensus. “Some people have described me as a cerebral comic, but I think I’m a goofball,” she says.

Coming soon: At the Middlesex Lounge in Cambridge with Greg Johnson, Nov. 26; with Jake Johannsen at Laugh Boston, Dec. 18-20; “Artisanal Comedy” in January.

Links: www.bethanyvandelft.com, www.facebook.com/bethanyvandelft

Nick A. Zaino III can be reached at nick@nickzaino.com.
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