Com­edy’s Ian Boothby of­fers his faves I


The Georgia Straight - - Arts - By

Guy Macpher­son

an Boothby’s re­sume must be 15 pages long. The guy has done ev­ery­thing in and around com­edy, on stage, screen, page, you name it. Best-known now for his comic-book writ­ing, par­tic­u­larly his re­cently ended 20-year ten­ure writ­ing the Simp­sons Comics, Boothby just got back from the Madrid Comic Con with his comic­book-artist wife, Pia Guerra. To­gether, they do about four ma­jor comic cons a year, and more when they have some­thing to plug.

He’s got a book called Ex­or­sis­ters com­ing out in Oc­to­ber, has been busy writ­ing Sparks! for the Scholas­tic se­ries, and is a reg­u­lar con­trib­u­tor to Mad mag­a­zine.

But he’s still got time to per­form. He started out at the age of 13 on the CBC kids’ show Switch­back. At 16 he was per­form­ing standup at Punch­lines in Gas­town, even­tu­ally mak­ing his liv­ing at it. But af­ter about eight years work­ing the road, he stopped. “It was just aw­ful,” he says now. “You’d per­form at all these venues that were ab­so­lutely ter­ri­ble. It just wasn’t for me. It was rough. Not that good for the soul.”

Then he dis­cov­ered im­prov with Van­cou­ver Theatre­s­ports League. “That was just such a more pos­i­tive ex­pe­ri­ence, so I started do­ing that more on the reg­u­lar,” he says.

Along the way, he wrote for TV and film, and was a weekly car­toon­ist for a lo­cal pa­per. “If you’re Cana­dian,” he says, “you have to do, like, five things to make a liv­ing.”

Five. Ha! With all on his plate, he still hits the stage. He can be seen in The Crit­i­cal Hit Show, a live, im­pro­vised epic fan­tasy, and he has plans to do more standup when things set­tle down a bit.

Oh, and did I men­tion he also does two pod­casts?: Sneaky Dragon, at 350 episodes and count­ing, and the Marx Bros.–in­spired Full Marx, both with co­host David Dedrick.

Here, then, are some of Boothby’s favourite things on the lo­cal laugh cir­cuit: LO­CAL STANDUP WHO AL­WAYS GIVES ME THE GIG­GLES

“Katie-ellen Humphries. She al­ways de­liv­ers some­thing fresh and new and sur­pris­ing and is just a damn de­light to watch. There’s al­ways some­one like an Ivan Decker who clearly is go­ing to take off like a rocket, but Katie is very in­ter­est­ing to watch and one of my favourite per­form­ers to see. She al­ways adds an ex­tra level to what she’s do­ing.” LO­CAL IM­PRO­VISER WHO’S EAS­I­EST TO PLAY WITH

“Allen Mor­ri­son is one of my favourites. I work with him on The Crit­i­cal Hit Show and he does Theatre­s­ports and he’s one of those guys that floats around and is in every show in town. He’s one of these guys the au­di­ence im­me­di­ately falls in love with and that just makes your job per­form­ing with him so much easier. When I started watch­ing im­prov, that was the case with Colin Mochrie. Nancy Robert­son used to be like that too, so if you were in a scene with her, you could get away with mur­der.” LO­CAL SHOW THAT GIVES THE BEST BANG FOR YOUR BUCK The Lady Show. “It’s a mix of standup, sketch, top­i­cal news seg­ments, and weird mono­logues. Diana Bang does these crazy mono­logues that just go off the rails. They’re won­der­ful. Then you get some tra­di­tional standup in there as well. It’s the kind of show that will make peo­ple go see more standup and im­prov and sketch, so it’s a great show for the com­mu­nity, as well.”


Sushi Yama (371 East Broad­way). “The nice thing about them is they’re open un­til mid­night every day [ex­cept Sun­days]. If you go late, which you will if you’re do­ing a show, they have to get rid of the fish at the end of the day so your por­tions are huge. And it’s a fairly healthy al­ter­na­tive at the end of the night. Plus, they have beer and sake, so you can drink your trou­bles away if it wasn’t a good show.”


The Butt­pod. “It’s just a nice, ca­sual yak with the best co­me­dian in Canada, Brent Butt. He’s very gen­er­ous as a host. He’ll let you go on, but he’s al­ways got some­thing to say as well that’ll keep things at a good pace. It’s ev­ery­thing a ca­sual pod­cast should and could be.” BEST LO­CAL POD­CAST TO LIS­TEN TO

The Big Loop. “You can com­pare it a bit to Black Mir­ror or Twi­light Zone, but for­mer standup Paul Bae lay­ers it with at­mos­phere so well. It’s al­ways a creepy treat to lis­ten. Paul’s had re­ally good suc­cess with that pod­cast, and well-de­served. It’s nice to see some­one re­ally put an ef­fort into some­thing and have it pay off.”

ONE THING THAT WOULD MAKE THE VAN­COU­VER COM­EDY SCENE EVEN BET­TER “A Se­cond City/ucb–style theatre that mixed sketch and im­prov, and pos­si­bly standup. We have cross­over be­tween the standup and im­prov scenes, but we don’t have one venue that caters to that. I wish we had some­thing along those lines here.” BEST VENUE TO UN­COVER FU­TURE COM­EDY STARS: “The Rio Theatre (1660 East Broad­way). They have Im­prov Against Hu­man­ity, Paul An­thony’s Tal­ent Time, Gen­tle­men Heck­lers, The Crit­i­cal Hit Show. There’s a lot of bur­lesque stuff as well. It’s this great space that feels like the theatre from The Mup­pet Show. Ob­vi­ously, you’re go­ing to see fu­ture com­edy stars at the $5 venues, and you should see as many of those as you can, but if you want a more com­fort­able seat, the Rio Theatre is a good place to find peo­ple right be­fore they take off.”


“My reg­u­lar artist James Lloyd would al­ways put lo­cal peo­ple into the back­grounds, es­pe­cially in the Fu­tu­rama comics. Weird, fu­tur­is­tic ver­sions of lo­cal punk rock­ers or lo­cal artists. You’ll see them scat­tered through the back­ground of New New York. If you see some­one that was just this odd char­ac­ter and seemed to have very spe­cific el­e­ments, that’s usu­ally a car­i­ca­ture of some­one in the lo­cal scene. But I’m not 100 per­cent sure Canada still ex­ists. Maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t. I feel it’s all just been in­cor­po­rated into New New York, be­cause clearly all these Van­cou­ver peo­ple are there!”


“It’s a great city to make your mis­takes in and get good in be­fore you go some­where else. And stay healthy in. You can drink nice clean wa­ter, have cheap sushi, go for a walk in Stan­ley Park and do some for­est bathing. You can do your stuff here, get re­ally, re­ally good, screw up a lot, and then, when you feel ready, leave. Or at least keep in touch with the rest of the world, be­cause that’s where the work is; there’s not a lot of work proper in Van­cou­ver. This is just re­ally a good prac­tis­ing, re­hears­ing city.”

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