Lotsa laughs from lo­cals at com­edy fes­ti­val

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - ENTERTAINMENT - BRAD OSWALD

THE week­end’s upon us, which means the Win­nipeg Com­edy Fes­ti­val is in its home stretch, and it’s time to clean out the ear­ly­week por­tion of the com­edy-fest note­book. Here are some random ob­ser­va­tions from a few funny-filled week­nights at the 2013 event:

Tues­day’s festopen­ing Com­edy Aces show at the McPhillips Sta­tion Casino boasted a solid lineup of im­ports and lo­cal favourites in a show that proved once again — and, hopefully, for the last time — that if the lo­cal gam­ing house is to re­main a fix­ture on the fest sched­ule, the provin­cially run casi­nos sim­ply can’t get their big­bud­get show­room con­struc­tion project fin­ished soon enough.

Once again, comic af­ter comic — led ably by host Rob Pue, who was very funny — de­liv­ered strong ma­te­rial and gen­er­ated de­cent amounts of laugh­ter from a near-ca­pac­ity crowd, but the au­di­ence’s glee­ful re­ac­tion was at times matched by the in­ces­sant sounds of ping­ing, ring­ing, ding­ing and beep­ing from the VLT lounge on the other side of the any­thing-but-sound­proof tem­po­rary cur­tain that sep­a­rates the stage and seat­ing area from the ad­join­ing gam­bling area.

Add to that the fact that the cur­tain ba­si­cally ab­sorbs, rather than re­flects, the sound of laugh­ter, and you’ve got a bunch of co­me­di­ans work­ing their hard­est in a room where laughs go to die. It’s a venue that won’t be missed.

Stand­outs in the Tues­day show were lo­cals Paul Rabli­auskas and Big Daddy Tazz, who were both in top form, and ev­ery-fest im­port John Wing, who capped a funny set about fam­ily, par­ent­ing and mid­dle age with a few ob­ser­va­tions about a friend who’s sud­denly sin­gle and re­join­ing the dat­ing pool.

“He’s in his 50s; now he’s dat­ing th­ese younger women — 25-year-olds,” of­fered Wing. “That must be ex­haust­ing. I’m not talk­ing about the sex; I’m talk­ing about hav­ing to ex­plain ev­ery­thing that hap­pened be­fore 1985.” Wing ended his set on a mu­si­cal note, ac­com­pa­ny­ing him­self on gui­tar as he served up an orig­i­nal age-and­grav­ity-in­spired num­ber that may or may not be ti­tled This Is What I Look Like Naked.

Wed­nes­day’s sched­ule (for me, any­way) in­cluded The Win­nipeg Show, which in its early years was some­thing of an af­ter­thought but has be­come, in the last two or three years, one of the hottest tick­ets. And with good rea­son — there’s much to cel­e­brate in the city’s standup scene, with Win­nipeg’s ac­tive open-mike and show­case scene pro­duc­ing an ever-stronger com­mu­nity of ris­ing com­edy stars.

Some of the best were on dis­play on Wed­nes­day — Rabli­auskas, An­drew Li­zotte, Chantel Maros­tica, Dan Verville, Tazz, fest artis­tic di­rec­tor Al Rae — but the sur­prise of the evening was morn­ing ra­dio guy Ace Burpee, who hosted the show. There’s a big dif­fer­ence be­tween be­ing funny on the ra­dio and be­ing funny on­stage, but the Vir­gin Ra­dio per­son­al­ity proved he can do both when he shared some in­sights about ap­pear­ing on a show be­ing taped for broad­cast on Laugh Out Loud.

“This is be­ing recorded for CBC Ra­dio, which is great, be­cause it will be the first time my mother has ever heard me on the ra­dio,” he said. “In case this part ever makes it to the ra­dio: Hello, Jane Burpee, and no, I didn’t run into Terry McLeod at work to­day.”

Burpee’s mom, it seems, is a ded­i­cated CBC lis­tener.

“She al­ways asks me, ‘Did you hear what Terry McLeod said to­day?’ And I’m, like, ‘Mom, we’re on at the same time.’”

Win­nipeg joke, Win­nipeg show. Worth con­sid­er­a­tion as a must-see fes­ti­val event.

Thurs­day’s dou­ble­header at the Gas Sta­tion Arts Cen­tre was led off by a tap­ing of CBC Ra­dio’s Def­i­nitely Not the Opera, fea­tur­ing a se­lec­tion of sto­ries fo­cused on par­ent­ing, chil­dren and the point in life at which roles start to get re­versed.

Lo­cal prod­uct Dean Jenk­in­son opened with a funny mono­logue about how his three-year-old daugh­ter sets the rules at home, and an­other Win­nipeg­ger, Bill Richard­son, closed with a touch­ing but very funny tale of mov­ing back home to be closer to his 87-yearold fa­ther as he strug­gles through the chal­lenges of life’s fi­nal chap­ter.

Ar­tic­u­late as ever, Richard­son of­fered this per­spec­tive on the move back to Man­i­toba to deal with ag­ing­par­ent is­sues: “When your fa­ther’s den­tures get wrapped in the sheets and go through the laun­dry, you don’t want 2,000 miles be­tween you.”

Still worth see­ing: CBC Ra­dio’s The De­baters is tap­ing to­day and Sun­day (2 p.m.) at the newly re­fur­bished Met­ro­pol­i­tan En­ter­tain­ment Cen­tre; Cana­dian-TV every­man Jonathan Tor­rens is host­ing the Satur­day Early Gala, ti­tled High School Con­fi­den­tial (6:45 p.m., Pan­tages Play­ouse The­atre); lo­cal troupers Hot Thes­pian Ac­tion are serv­ing up A Baker’s Dozen: 13 De­li­cious Sketches (tonight at 8, Gas Sta­tion); Mr. D side­kick Mark For­ward hosts the al­ways-in­spired Dark and Stormy Show (tonight at 10:30, Met); and Mar­itimer Jonny Har­ris hosts the wrap-it-up Best of the Fest gala Sun­day at 7:30, also at the Met.

APRIL PLETT PHOTO

Rob Pue played host at Tues­day night’s Com­edy Aces show.

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