Joe first began reading stories to children as part of his job running the children's department at an old Barnes & Noble in Auburn, MA. Using the voice characterization he learned from his father and theatrical performance from his mother he grew storytime attendance tenfold during his tenure at the bookstore. Friend and co-worker Amanda Graves got him his first public (and paying) gig in 1997, where he gave animated readings of Dr. Seuss books for the Festival of Trees in Worcester, MA.
After the show, a small boy walked up to Joe, tattered copy of The Cat in the Hat clutched to his chest, and proudly gushed, "I have all your books and all your movies." After guiltily autographing the good doctor's name, Joe knew this was not his last performance.
The following year he was invited back, this time on the main stage in the center of the Worcester Common Outlets mall, and worked a two-person show on opening night with dear friend Colleen Butler-Sweet. Throughout the rest of the week he performed solo, beginning to hone the physical style that would become his early trademark.
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