Trueline Spotlight: Working the crowd and making ‘em laugh
There’s an iconic scene near the end of the classic 1994 comedy “Dumb & Dumber” where Jeff Daniels’ character, Harry Dunn, gets shot in the chest by a villain. Luckily, Dunn was working with the FBI and was wearing a bulletproof vest.
“What if he shot you in the face?” Lloyd Christmas, played by Jim Carrey, exclaims when Dunn reveals he’s not wounded. “What if he shot me in the face?” Dunn then repeats while looking at his FBI handler. Nobody can watch that scene without laughing, and it’s one of the scenes that gave Rachel Gendron her comedic start.
Gendron, one of Trueline’s sales development coordinators, used to act out scenes from “Dumb & Dumber” for her father, his friends and family.
“He couldn’t remember the lines and would botch them so badly,” Gendron recalls. “I loved watching Jim Carrey and renting comedy movies every Friday night.”
After studying English literature and communications at the University of Southern Maine and Concordia University in Montreal, Gendron embarked on a comedy journey that continues today. She began working the comedy club scene in Canada with a partner who said Gendron had natural comedic talent. But when she moved back to Portland, friends asked her why she didn’t opt to move to New York City or Los Angeles.
“In those big cities you’re a small fish in a big pond, but in Portland, it’s the opposite,” Gendron says. “It’s more of a challenge to be successful here, I think.”
Gendron grew up in Cape Elizabeth and moved around the Portland area as a kid. She remembers how she felt after putting glue on her teacher’s chair in first grade. “I thought it was funny,” she says, and laughs about being confused with another Rachel Gendron—a female bodybuilder in Lewiston—during a run-in with law enforcement on the beach when she was 18.
After spending several years in Canada, Gendron moved back to Maine in 2018. She now lives in Portland with her partner and a cat named Leslie Nielsen after the actor who starred in “Airplane” and the “Naked Gun” franchise. But while Nielsen earned his status in the pantheon of comic legends by landing slapstick jokes by the hundreds, Gendron says her approach to comedy is different.
“I like to tease people and make people uncomfortable, but I do it in a way that is relaxing and fun,” she says.
Coming up in the comedy world, Gendron points to female comedians like Sarah Silverman and Amy Schumer as influences. Silverman, she says, is classy and sophisticated but also childish and silly. Schumer just had something special, and Gendron noticed that before the multi-hyphenate started doing sex-forward and blue material.
“I knew she was going to be big, and it was easy to see that she was going to be appealing to the masses,” Gendron says.
Right before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Gendron did a set with a friend, and it didn’t go as planned. Her friend killed and kept the audience laughing throughout; Gendron bombed. But it was what her friend said afterward that stuck with her.
“She told me that despite the lack of reaction from the crowd, it looked like I was having fun,” Gendron says. “She told me she didn’t have fun even though she killed it.”
Finding her counterpoint
Shortly after moving back to Maine, Gendron met Anders Nielsen—no relation to Leslie—when she joined the same comedy group. She was working in the service industry and set a deadline for herself to get an “adult job.”
Nielsen, who had been a content developer at Trueline for more than a year, suggested she apply for a position. She applied and was hired, and thanks her comedy and work friend for pushing her to take the chance.
“I have a tendency to not have a lot of confidence professionally, and I’m sometimes afraid to put myself out there,” Gendron says. “Which is weird as a stand-up, but I’m completely comfortable on stage.”
After more than a year with Trueline, Gendron says she’s doing a job she never imagined she could do and has realized she’s a workaholic. The job—and the company—has pushed her to try new things and step outside her comfort zone.
“It’s allowed me to see things about myself that I couldn’t see, and it has started to shape me into who I want to be professionally,” Gendron says. “And I couldn’t be more thankful for that.”
The Soup de Jour — Rachel Gendron
Did you know? Gendron shares a birthday, August 9, with Whitney Houston, Maine’s Anna Kendrick, Sam Elliott and Celtics legend Bob Cousy, the “Houdini of the Hardwood.”
Who’d play you? Kristen Schaal, actress from “Flight of the Concords.”
Favorite movie quote: “Your lies are bananas. They come in big yellow bunches,” from “Wrongfully Accused,” starring Leslie Nielsen.
Greatest achievement so far: Sticking with comedy when the going got rough. “Quitting would’ve killed any momentum and made it that much harder to start again.”