Photos by Shawn Nowlin
Tuesday, August 29, would have been Amy Daulton’s 45th birthday. Those who knew her best say that she had a big smile and an even bigger heart. The Salem native graduated from Salem High School in 1990 before embarking on a career as a stand-up and improv comedian in New York City and Los Angeles. Her career highlights include appearing on Saturday Night Live (SNL) three times.
“She was the most fun-energetic-wild-genius-comedian I have ever seen,” Courtney Maginnis said. “My only goal in comedy is to try to be half as funny as she naturally was.”
Christy McBrayer met Amy Daulton in 1999 at a Hollywood comedy club. At the time, both were in their 20s and had dreams of making it big. “She ran right up to me with her wonderfully silly saunter and said, ‘I love your Southern comedy. I am from the South, too and I would love for you to watch my set,’” Christy said. “I did and thought she was hilarious. We instantly became best friends.”
Amy passed away in 2015. The Salem Education Foundation and Alumni Association founded a scholarship the next year in her honor.
Nearly 100 people purchased a ticket to the Southern Fried Chickie comedy show which took place inside the Valley View Holiday Inn on Saturday, July 8. An all-star lineup of Christy McBrayer, Omar Capra, Courtney Maginnis, Shelley Hamilton and Matthew Kelly provided non-stop laughter for nearly two hours. Salem musicians Henry Bradley, Allan Davidson and Joey Poarch comprised the “Red Neck Greek Chorus” and played a vital role in Saturday’s event. Proceeds from the show will benefit the Amy Daulton Scholarship Fund.
Omar Capra, a New York City comic who appears in the recent “Spider Man: Homecoming” movie, had people in tears when talking about driving on the interstate in Virginia. “It seems like Virginia is the only state where you can be on the highway going 60 mph one minute and a felon the next for going 65 mph,” he said.
Part of Matthew’s set involved talking about his divorce. “We are still great friends, we just don’t want to see each other’s face anymore,” he said. “Unfortunately for her, I have the same face as both of our daughters.”
Once Matthew finished his set, Maginnis took center stage. “I know that it’s not real Virginia, but I’m from Fairfax,” she said. “I’m going to have a drink tonight for Amy but also because I drink every night.”
When Christy was a kid she said she appreciated the authenticity of Carol Burnett, the comedic timing of Lucille Ball and the stage presence of Gilda Radner. Today some of her all-time favorite comics include Amy Daulton and Kate McKinnon. “Looking down from heaven, I think that Amy is thrilled that her favorite friends in the comedy world from both Los Angeles and New York all came together to honor her,” she said. “We are only a few thousand dollars away from our goal. If anyone who could not make the show would like to give private donations, they can contact Tommy McDonald at email@example.com.”
Not a week goes by that Brea Hatt doesn’t think about her sister. “Amy was an amazing sibling. She was the smallest but was very protective of me and our sister Carrie,” she said. “Experiencing and making memories of life with her is what I miss most. We know that she is smiling down from heaven.”