How a stroke of light­ning changed ev­ery­thing

Dave Hem­stad on go­ing from pro golfer to co­me­dian and tour­ing with The De­baters

Thornhill Post - - Currents -

Be­fore Dave Hem­stad was per­form­ing at the Just For Laughs com­edy fes­ti­val and on CBC’s The De­baters, he was en route to be­come a pro­fes­sional golfer.

He was ath­lete of the year in his fi­nal year at Thorn­hill Se­condary School, and al­though he was in­volved in school plays and even did a standup set for his fi­nal project in drama class, golf was still his goal. So he took a golf schol­ar­ship down to Mis­souri State Univer­sity.

“In hind­sight, that wasn’t what I wanted to do, but it looked like the best route for me,” he says.

It wasn’t un­til he was struck by light­ning dur­ing a golf tour­na­ment that his mind­set be­gan to change.

“That wasn’t ‘ the mo­ment,’ but over the next few months, I ques­tioned what I wanted to do with my life and re­al­ized that I wanted to do standup com­edy more than any­thing,” he says.

So Hem­stad re­turned home to Thorn­hill and started go­ing to ama­teur com­edy nights at Yuk Yuk’s and dif­fer­ent open mic nights.

“I started at the bot­tom and started climb­ing up­hill,” says Hem­stad. And that climb­ing paid off even­tu­ally.

Hem­stad’s cred­its in­clude a com­edy spe­cial on CTV called Com­edy Now!, a star­ring role in the Show­case se­ries Al­most He­roes and per­for­mances at sev­eral com­edy fes­ti­vals across Canada.

He is also cur­rently tour­ing with The De­baters with stops across On­tario.

“When you do your first Just For Laughs, that’s kind of the mecca that you’re al­ways work­ing to­wards as a co­me­dian be­cause it’s the big­gest com­edy fes­ti­val in the world,” says Hem­stad who has also per­formed at the Hal­i­fax Com­edy Fes­ti­val, the Win­nipeg Com­edy Fes­ti­val and more.

Al­though his com­edy ca­reer has ex­panded from standup to tele­vi­sion and be­yond, he says there’s noth­ing bet­ter than play­ing a live com­edy club.

“In a com­edy club, I don’t know how the show is go­ing to go. At a TV tap­ing, I know ex­actly what I want to do and what I’m try­ing to do,” says Hem­stad. “In TV, you might have six min­utes to per­form, which is a fun chal­lenge. But it’s dif­fer­ent when you have 45 min­utes at a com­edy club and you can do what­ever you want.”

Be­hind the scenes, Hem­stad has also worked as a com­edy writer on shows such as Still Stand­ing, The De­baters and for the 2016

Cana­dian Screen Awards that was hosted by Norm Mac­don­ald (of Satur­day Night Live fame).

“Steve Pat­ter­son [The De­baters’ host] and I wrote for that to­gether, which was great be­cause I got to work with Norm Mac­don­ald who is ob­vi­ously some­one I re­spect very much as a comedic tal­ent,” says Hem­stad.

As part of his work with The De­baters, Hem­stad is cur­rently on tour with Pat­ter­son (one of his old­est friends and col­leagues) and fel­low co­me­dian Kate Davis.

“The three of us are hav­ing a lot of fun be­ing on the road to­gether, and the crowds love the show. Peo­ple love The De­baters, and it’s re­ally fun to per­form for crowds who are ex­cited to see what you’re go­ing to do,” says Hem­stad.

When the tour is over, they’ll re­turn to Toronto for a live tap­ing of The De­baters for CBC at the Dan­forth Mu­sic Hall on March 7.

Hem­stad also has two tele­vi­sion shows in de­vel­op­ment cur­rently — al­though he can’t re­veal any de­tails — and he has re­leased a com­edy al­bum on iTunes.

“It’s called Com­edy Dump Truck be­cause I thought ‘great­est hits’ was a bit too ob­nox­ious, but it’s my great­est hits al­bum,” he says.

Hem­stad will per­form at the Dan­forth Mu­sic Hall on March 7

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