PORTSMOUTH — You want jokes? Ben Telford’s got jokes. And if you don’t want to hear ’em, go home.
“Leave now, because they’re only going to get worse,” Ben warned the crowd while he co-hosted Friday night’s “Portsmouth’s Got Talent” show presented by the senior class in the high school auditorium.
Although Ben’s jokes were older than the auditorium’s seats, many audience members inexplicably kept clamoring for more. The funny man didn’t fail to deliver — one bad pun after another:
• “What do you call a can opener that doesn’t work? A can’t opener.”
• “How did Ebenezer Scrooge win the football game? The Ghost of Christmas passed.”
• “Why don’t oysters give to charity? Because they’re shellfish.”
• “Why can’t melons get married? Because they cantaloupe.”
And on and on into the night.
“I asked him not to make these jokes,” quipped co-host Lucas Nocera. “He’s going to make them anyway.”
Lucas, for his part, kept the crowd on its toes by donning a new T-shirt every time he returned to the stage. (The inscription on one of them rivaled his co-host’s jokes: “I really mustache you a question, but I’ll shave it for later.”)
Ben, decked out in sunglasses and a cream-colored seersucker suit, said he and Lucas were originally invited to perform in the talent show. “But they realized that we’re not talented at all,” said Ben, who also joined his co-host for a few impromptu dance moves throughout the course of the evening.
“Yeah,” added Lucas, “so we figured we’d do what teachers do. If you can’t perform, host.”
Fortunately, there was plenty of real talent going on behind them. Students performed under three different categories — dance, vocal/instrumental and group — with the judges ranking them on a scale from one to five. (Serving as judges were PHS English teacher Kaylin Johnson, Assistant Principal Chris Ashley and math teacher Tim Marum.)
Ava Aguiar started the night off by performing an original dance routine to Santigold’s “You’ll Find a Away.” She was followed by Crystal LeDuc, who read an original poem.
Vocalist Samantha Kirwin and pianist Jack Grzechowiak surprised the crowd when, during a performance of “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” they suddenly interrupted the song to engage in a lively, choreographed dance routine that went over well.
Next up was Sydney Carbone, who played guitar as she sang Death Cab for Cutie’s “I Will Follow You Into the Dark.” Emily Wirth and Victoria Bergstrom performed an original dance routine to “Mr. Mr.” by Girls Generation, followed by Danielle Emond’s singing of “Defying Gravity” from “Wicked.”
The PHS Dance Team performed an original choreographed routine to “Countdown,” by Beyonce. Closing the first half of the show was Andreas Evangelatos, who sang “Stars” from “Les Miserables” before kicking into a raucous version of Mumford and Sons’ “Awake My Soul,” while playing guitar and keeping time with a bass drum.
After intermission, Margeaux Sippel played piano and sang to “Million Dollar Man,” by Lana Del Rey. Jake Elmslie and the Lonesome Steps, a trio that also included John Sippel on bass and Justin Janke on drums, rocked along to Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode.” Then Jacob Cahoon bounded from the stage to the grand piano below to play reflective instrumental versions of two Lana Del Rey songs — “Summertime Sadness” and “Video Games.”
Ava Aguiar returned to the stage for another original dance routine, but this time with a partner, Savvy Densiley. They were followed by Charlotte Akin (described by Ben as “our resident Canadian and wanna-be French girl”), who sang “Why Can’t You Be?” by Third Eye Blind while being accompanied by Ben Hood on second guitar.
Popular local band Reverse Situation played its original number, “Heavy Action,” with Jalen Perry on guitar and vocals. Also in the band were Mark Tenenbaum on saxophone, Sam Boswell on bass and Justin Janke — filling in for Colin Davis, who was busy with his studies at the University of New Haven — on drums.
Closing out the show were Abby Canto singing the Leonard Cohen tune, “Hallelujah,” Brittany Croston performing a contemporary ballet to Glen Hansard’s “This Gift,” and Hailey O’Connell singing “Let it Go” from “Frozen.”
The winner is …
After tallying the votes, the finalists in each category were Reverse Situation (group), Brittany Croston (dance) and Margeaux Sippel (vocal/instrumental).
And the overall winner was … Reverse Situation, which took home 5 percent of the night’s profits as part of its prize.
“Now you have to do a little dance since you won,” Lucas told the band.
Check out a gallery of photos from the show below.