Deckhand Will Kendrigan

Next time you board any of the Vallejo ferry boats, look to see if Will Kendrigan is around. Say hello and then ask him to do his best Christopher Walken impersonation.

Deckhand Will Kendrigan says that his experience as a stand-up comedian helps him when he needs to deal with crowds during his day job at Blue & Gold Fleet. Photo by Matt Larson

By Matt Larson

Published: March, 2014

Next time you board any of the Vallejo ferry boats, look to see if Will Kendrigan is around. Say hello and then ask him to do his best Christopher Walken impersonation.

Kendrigan, who moonlights as a stand-up comedian, has been deckhand for Blue & Gold for the past two years. Compared to other jobs he’s had—fixing windshields, for example—Kendrigan says, "This is definitely better." Why? "Better view, you get to see more people, and it definitely keeps you interested."

Aside from the passengers, his favorite part of the job is seeing how the whole operation comes together. "You have the management teams in the different areas that pull everything together. You have the dispatchers who keep track of everybody, the deckhands, the captains, the bartenders, the engineers keeping everything running—it’s interesting to see how everything fits together really well," said Kendrigan. And as a deckhand, he gets a front row seat to the action. "You get to see everybody."

Kendrigan also likes the variety of the job. "When you’re working ‘extra board,’ basically you could be doing just about anything that day—covering somebody’s shift, doing maintenance, and so on," Kendrigan said. "Sometimes you’re working around the engineers." One would think that doing so many different things could pose some challenges, but Kendrigan is a fan of everything. "I like doing it all," he said. "And as long as you’re doing your job and working with the crew, nothing should be too challenging."

Originally from Boston, Kendrigan has been living in Fairfield since 1985. If you’re from the area, and enjoy live comedy, you may recognize Kendrigan from his stints performing stand-up at Laughs Unlimited in Sacramento, or the now-closed Pepperbelly’s in Fairfield. "I’ve been doing stand-up since 1999, just an off and on thing," he said. "A lot of comics out there have a day job. For me, I’ve been focusing on the day job."

There was no particular catalyst that caused Kendrigan to take the mic. "It’s just something I gravitated to over the years." He describes his style as satirical, with improv and impersonations. Again, when you see him ask for his Walken, Sean Connery, Ronald Reagan or Bill Clinton.

Believe it or not, a background in stand-up comedy has helped Kendrigan on the job. "It does help with crowd situations; it’s easier for me to speak in front of them," he said. But despite the comedic aspect of his life, he takes his job very seriously. "I show up to work on time, focus on doing the job and working with the crew," he explained. "You do what you can, work with each other and just remain focused on taking care of the passengers and the boat."

Kendrigan enjoys seeing all of the tour groups from different parts of the world on the boat, as he is a world traveler himself, having visited the Philippines, Indonesia and Australia. "I like checking out the areas and getting to know people," he said. "Thanks to Facebook I found a whole bunch of family over in Australia." His next plan is to check out the Grand Bazaar in Turkey, as well as return to Australia someday.

When it comes to traveling throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, Kendrigan wholeheartedly stands by the ferry option, and he also recommends a livelihood on the water. If anyone out there is looking to become a deckhand, a captain, or any one of the many exciting jobs that Blue & Gold fleet has to offer, Kendrigan says: "Just being out on the open water is a bit more beneficial for you than sitting in front of a desk all day." With that in mind, at least come out for a ride and see what the fuss is all about.