Hey, did you hear the one about the massage therapist who started a stand-up comedy forum? No kidding. When Lynn Mosher, a Bridgeport-based massage therapist, is not treating a client, she’s producing a biweekly comedy show downtown.
“I always thought that I had a gift for healing, but I didn’t know how,” said Mosher, who viewed her twin pursuits as covering the body-mind-spirit trifecta. “I got into massage therapy because I wanted to have a job with a flexible schedule that I could pay my bills. I loved the idea of helping other people. It was a form of giving. I had been a professional actress and massage is a different kind of performance, it is a kind of giving. But as I became a massage therapist, I became more intuitive — I was able to look at a person and understand what was going on with them.”
Three years ago, she also took a good look at her own professional situation and realized that her managerial skill set was not being fully utilized. “After working for various spas and other people, I got to the point that I realized I needed to be my own boss,” she said.
Mosher took the entrepreneurial plunge by creating Rapha Massage in Fairfield. “‘Rapha’ means ‘to heal’ in Hebrew — I’m a Christian, but I like Hebrew words,” she said, with a laugh. Two years afterward, she moved her practice to the Regus Downtown Bridgeport Center on Lafayette Boulevard, although the facility’s corporate environment and lack of health-related offices initially confused some of her clients. “They literally walked in and then walked out, thinking, ‘This can’t be right, this must be an attorney’s office.’”
Mosher intentionally chose to relocate to Bridgeport because of the city’s lack of professional massage therapy offices — in comparison, she counted 15 each in Westport and Fairfield and eight in Stratford. She also chose to stand apart from her competition with her proprietary Rapha Technique approach to healing.
“I created the Rapha Technique, which uses hot towels during and through the entire massage,” she said. There is always some form of heat on the body, making it a more healing type of massage. I also use natural shea butter as an oil. I believe in moisturizing rather than greasing people down. I want to change the game and expand that as a modality in teaching.”
Mosher’s initial career goal on the stage never truly evaporated. Last year, she reinvented herself as a stand-up comic in the New England and New York City circuit. After quickly building a network of connections with local comedians, Mosher launched Rapha Comedy Productions as a biweekly showcase of stand-up talent.
“There is a scripture in the Bible that says, ‘Laughter does good like a medicine,’” she said, paraphrasing Proverbs 17:22. “That is our tag line. Rapha Comedy is a group consisting of 50 comedians coming in and out of these shows, switching it up and making it different.”
Mosher alternates Rapha Comedy between two downtown eateries, Leisha’s Bakeria on Lafayette Circle and Amici Miei Café on Main Street. Mosher admitted that her evening shows have very little competition from other live entertainment downtown.
“There is pretty much nothing now,” she said. “There is the Downtown Cabaret and there is Murphy’s Law (a Fairfield Avenue bar that occasionally offers live music). There is no comedy except a show in Stratford. The Bijou had a comedy show that was repetitive — the same players were there every month.”
But getting people to come downtown on a weeknight has been a challenge for a long time. Massimo Tabacco, the owner of Amici Miei Café, acknowledged that bringing in an after-work crowd is no mean feat.
“It is mostly a lunchtime crowd,” he said about his café’s customer base. “I’ve been here seven years, and little by little it is going upwards for a dinner crowd with more people living downtown. We also get a crowd from the surrounding area — when there are shows at the (Webster Bank) arena, some people come for dinner.”
Tabacco said Mosher’s Rapha Comedy (which began at his café in April) has been a work in progress for drawing people downtown, though he remained optimistic about its potential.
“Summer is not a great time to do these kinds of shows — people like to be outside,” he said. “It has built up little by little and we’re trying to build it up stronger for the fall and the winter. People come here for her and some of our customers stay and watch the show. She’s very funny and the people she brings are funny — they are a diverse bunch of characters.”
Mosher recognized that more word-of-mouth and person-to-person marketing is needed for her comedy shows. “I’ve been doing a lot online, but it is about creating more of a buzz for the people in the downtown buildings — the people that work and live here,” she said, adding that her eventual goal with Rapha Comedy is to expand to a regular Saturday event.
And while Rapha Massage and Rapha Comedy exist in different spheres, Mosher said there has been some degree of overlap. “It is nice when people see Rapha Comedy, they turn around and say, ‘Oh, you’re a massage therapist, too!’”