Who is Lars Callieou? The little fat headed kid with the annoying voice from the children’s cartoon? No, but you’re close. The fat headed adult comedian from Edmonton, with the slightly less than annoying voice.
When I received an email from Edmonton’s NextGen blog I was intrigued. They said, “We like to have guest bloggers from ‘authorities’ on Edmonton’s entertainment scene”. I’ll start by saying I’m proud of comedy in Edmonton. From The Comic Strip, an A room in North America, to Yuk Yuk’s to the Comedy Factory (over a decade in the business), we have more comedy clubs than Toronto and as many as Vancouver.
Edmonton has a legit comedy scene, which I just made less legit by using the word legit.
Jay Leno has been to Edmonton. Jerry Seinfeld, Bill Cosby, Joan Rivers, Dane Cook, Russell Peters – they all put us on their tour schedule. If Edmonton were a city in the United States, we’d be the 9th biggest city in the country. With 1.2 million people, we’re a REAL city. We often think of ourselves as ‘small time’ but we have a lot to be proud of. The second largest Fringe Festival in the world, more theatre seats per capita than anywhere in Canada and a comedy festival that hit the ground running last year (ATB Edmonton Comedy Festival). Our comedy scene should be proud of itself (not too proud because everyone hates a braggart comedian).
What makes me an authority on comedy in Edmonton? I’ve stuck around longer than most of my generation. Guys who started 9 years ago, they’re in Toronto, LA, Vancouver or England. I like to think of myself as the Bull Durham of Edmonton. I’m close to the record for home runs in the minor leagues (that’s a reference to the Kevin Costner movie and not a review of my shows). It’s not really a record you want, but I too, have been to the show.
I’m going to assume you’ve been to a comedy show in Edmonton in the last decade. When you were at said comedy show, whether in a club or a theatre or at an amateur night, you were pleasantly surprised. The comedians were funny. You might have been surprised to learn most were homegrown. There are GREAT comics in our city. Sean Lecomber, Sterling Scott, Kathleen McGee (off to LA soon), Kenny Valgardson… great comics. Names you might not recognize but people who have had you in stitches if you stumbled upon a comedy night they were on.
I was going to use this opportunity on Edmonton’s Next Gen to talk about how
stand up comedy is the bastard stepchild of the entertainment world.
I’d put us ahead of mimes and clowns, unless you’re a mime clown, then you’re above a comic on the proverbial entertainment ladder. They gave us an opportunity at The Works Festival this year, between bands, while equipment was being set up. It’s a start.
Want to find out what the arts world thinks about stand up comedy, put a straight stand up show in a Fringe Festival. You’ll get panned in reviews worse than Michael Richards at the Apollo Theatre. They don’t think we ‘belong’. After 4 straight years in the Fringe, they gave us a little love, we found a little acceptance. For that, I’m grateful.
Sam Kinison said, “If you want to be a success in comedy, don’t go away.” Our city supports the arts. Folk, Blues, theatre, Jazz, comedy, they love it. I believe Edmonton to be an oasis, like Austin or Minneapolis. It’s surprising how great the crowds can be. So Instead of complaining, I want to say, give stand up a try.
With all the great options for entertainment, give comedy a chance.
There are comedy open mics every night:
- The Druid Pub – Sunday
- O2 156 ST – Monday
- Overtime – Tuesday
- Rouge Lounge and/or Hydeaway Pub – Wednesday
- Yuk Yuk’s – Thursday
Those are just the open mics. Amateur nights so to speak. Want to see a pro show, go to a club on the weekend. You’ll see your own comics opening for the likes of Nikki Payne, Brad Garrett, Damon Wayans or Rob Schneider. You’ll leave saying, “That was great! Why don’t we do that more often?”
Live comedy, when done correctly, is the BEST form of entertainment (in my VERY biased opinion). Laugh yourself silly for 90 minutes, then tell me that wasn’t the best experience you’ve had in a long time. You’ll laugh more than any movie, play or concert. To quote Andy Dufresne in The Shawshank Redemption, “If you’ve made it this far, perhaps you’re willing to come a little farther.”
Check out a comedy night, give them your attention, don’t text or talk.
Most comedians have poured their heart and soul into each word, into crafting each joke, we just want to make you laugh.
Why you ask? So you’ll leave and say, “The fourth comedian was my favorite.” We’re just trying to be a random number in your program, but number one in your hearts. Until then, we’re happy to be on the edge of the arts, looking in, wondering if they’ll ever ask us to be with the musicians, painters, sculptors, photographers, writers or poets.
An unknown Jazz musician quote was once told to me third person, Mike Wilmont told Dan Brodribb who told it to me, I wish I could attribute it to an author but I haven’t been able to. Here it is: “There are day people and there are night people. Day people work all day just so they can give their money to night people.”
I’ll see you at a show sometime, you’ll recognize me as comic number 3, your second favorite.
Lars has been a stand up comic in Edmonton for 9 years. He’s been to the Just for Laughs Festival and has a comedy special on the Comedy Network. He hosts The Druid Comedy Night every Sunday and DJs a comedy radio show Wednesdays at midnight on CJSR 88.5 FM. He loves his Mom and is on Twitter. @extralars
NextGen Speaks Out, our guest blogging series, is envisioned as a hub for information and discussion. NextGen is a non-political, non-denominational organization focused on giving all nextgeners a voice. NextGen does not represent the opinions expressed by the individual columnists.