Comedy fest organizers promise three nights of hilarity

Karla Hayward
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Humour

Think you're funny? Tie on your napkin - it's time to eat some humble pie.

The first St. John's Comedy Festival starts Friday and it's gonna leave you crossing your legs, attempting to not spew drink out your nose and with a firm knowledge of what funny really is.

Pete Soucy, a.k.a. the infamous Snook, is the festival organizer, along with Terri Andrews, and an impressive one at that since show planning only got its start a few months ago.

Think you're funny? Tie on your napkin - it's time to eat some humble pie.

The first St. John's Comedy Festival starts Friday and it's gonna leave you crossing your legs, attempting to not spew drink out your nose and with a firm knowledge of what funny really is.

Pete Soucy, a.k.a. the infamous Snook, is the festival organizer, along with Terri Andrews, and an impressive one at that since show planning only got its start a few months ago.

"It was probably back in February. It's really quick, but it's something that has been discussed for years," Soucy said.

"People always said, 'Why don't we have (a comedy festival)? Halifax has one.' And Halifax doesn't even have a lot of local talent - they use a lot of our talent. So, finally, enough discussion went on that a couple of us said, 'Let's do it.'"

A three-night, five-show event, the St. John's Comedy Festival is bringing in some big names. Think people like Lorne Elliott, Irwin Barker, Steve Patterson and Erica Sigurdson.

Still not impressed? It gets better. How about the entire cast of "This Hour Has 22 Minutes"?

Soucy explains, "Well, Mark Critch was in from the start, and I thought, well why don't we try to get all the cast of '22 Minutes'? The show's high profile, everybody knows the performers and likes them, so I went in that direction. And it's the first time they've ever done anything as a group outside the show."

So on came Gavin Crawford, Cathy Jones and Shaun Majumder, to join Critch.

The first two nights of the festival will feature two shows, with four different performers in each. So, to get to see all eight comics, you must see two separate shows.

Soucy explains the reason behind the set-up, "A two hour show is what people can sit through. And, where we like to give the comedians a full set - which is generally between 20 and 30 minutes (apiece) - then, really, you can only have four per show."

On Sunday night, the festival will take the form of a gala at the St. John's Arts and Culture Centre where all eight comics will perform, hosted by Snook. The show will be taped for broadcast on NTV.

"You can see everyone at the gala, but it's a limited set, a 10-minute set, and it's a little more family friendly than the stuff they really do in their standup routine," Soucy said.

A comic himself, Soucy's pleased to see the festival come to fruition.

He's already thinking about next year.

"I just think it's a great thing. We finally have a focus for comedy. ... This is something that is going to build. Next year, we hope to have things like an open-mike night, a sketch comedy night, we may have workshops. ... I think it will be a place not only to see great comedy, but a place for people to break in and get started in the craft."

And for festival-goers, he promises some seriously funny shows.

"It's going to be a night of surprises and top-notch comedy to rival any in the country. ... They should Scotchguard their seats."

The St. John's Comedy Festival happens Friday and Saturday at the Battery Hotel, with Sunday's gala being held at the St. John's Arts and Culture Centre. Tickets are available through the Arts and Culture Centre box office (729-3900), and at the door. Festival passes are available. Visit website www.stjohnscomedyfest.ca.

telyarts@yahoo.com

Organizations: Battery Hotel

Geographic location: St. John's

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