© ‚ÄĒ Submitted photo
Comedian Pete Soucy as Dundersnook
St. John‚Äôs comedian Sarah Walsh says she‚Äôs doesn‚Äôt know if her jokes are funny or just weird, but, in any case, they make people laugh.
Clearly she‚Äôs doing something right, since stand-up comedy isn‚Äôt easy for just anyone. It takes a special kind of person to have both the jokes and the presence to pull it off, says Pete Soucy, otherwise known as Snook and one of the producers of the Exit Realty on the Rock Comedy Festival.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs an ability. It‚Äôs a facility with the craft. It‚Äôs timing. It‚Äôs a natural insight. It‚Äôs so many things,‚ÄĚ Soucy says of what makes a good comedian.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs difficult to teach. You can nurture it in somebody that has the potential. It‚Äôs like music, I suppose: you either have it or you don‚Äôt, and then you work on developing it.
Walsh, 25, began doing stand-up after taking part in an open mike night in Halifax on a whim at age 18. Since then, she‚Äôs performed at Yuk Yuk‚Äôs venues across the country, and recently had a spot on the Rogers TV special, ‚ÄúComedy in the City.‚ÄĚ She also writes and illustrates ‚ÄúKiddo,‚ÄĚ her own cartoon.
Like most comedians, Walsh‚Äôs material comes from everyday life.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs inspired by things I see that strike me as funny, and it just develops from there,‚ÄĚ she says.
Walsh and Jason Card were chosen by festival organizers as two of the province‚Äôs fast-rising stars in the world of comedy, and will participate in the comedy festival‚Äôs CBC Opening Gala, June 13, along with Snook and comedians Derek Sequin, Jon Steinberg, Rebecca Kohler, John Sheehan, Paul Edwards and Steve Coombs.
‚ÄúI‚Äôm really excited, but a little confused ‚ÄĒ did they get the right person?‚ÄĚ Walsh says of her participation in the gala. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs awesome. I‚Äôve been buzzing about it ever since they told me.‚ÄĚ
Since it was founded seven years ago as the St. John‚Äôs Comedy Festival, the celebration of comedy has grown from a small event to a four-day gathering, changing its name to reflect its title sponsor. Exit Realty on the Rock has committed to three years with the festival, Soucy said.
Previous festival performers have included Dan Aykroyd, Louis CK, Mark Critch, Nikki Payne, Gavin Crawford and Debra Di Giovanni.
This year, shows will happen at the St. John‚Äôs Arts and Culture Centre and the Bella Vista.
A stand-up workshop will kick off the festival, culminating in the Tada! Events Open Mike Night, where new and veteran comedians will take to the stage.
The festival will be officially opened the next night with the CBC gala. The Telegram Talk about Funny show on June 14 will be hosted by Steve Patterson, host of CBC Radio‚Äôs ‚ÄúThe Debaters,‚ÄĚ and Canadian Comedy Award winner, who‚Äôs been to this province numerous times, both with the festival and separate from it. He stopped in
St. John‚Äôs most recently in 2011, as host of the ‚ÄúJust For Laughs Tour: British Edition‚ÄĚ with a handful of comics from the U.K.
‚ÄúSteve‚Äôs been here many times, and he‚Äôs got a great profile,‚ÄĚ Soucy says. ‚ÄúHe‚Äôs really good and really versatile, plus he‚Äôs got a natural likeability, which I think is the secret to his success. He‚Äôs a smart and funny guy, and he‚Äôs really got a charisma that seems to work for him every single time.‚ÄĚ
Patterson will also host the Stand-Up Spotlight, and perform his own one-man show, ‚ÄúThis is Not Debatable!,‚ÄĚ end to the festival.
There‚Äôll also be some special, unannounced guests, Soucy says, including a character called Dundersnook ‚ÄĒ his Snook/Premier Kathy Dunderdale mash-up, complete with pink blazer, blonde wig and lipstick. He debuted the character a couple months ago on an NTV news segment.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs so silly, the drag thing,‚ÄĚ he says, laughing. ‚ÄúPeople recognize it right away. I don‚Äôt know if it‚Äôs the wig or we have the same nose or what.‚ÄĚ
For the second year, Pope Productions is a creative partner in the comedy festival, and will be filming and producing a television special, including footage from the shows and segments filmed with the comedians in locations around the city. Last year‚Äôs show aired nationally on CBC.
‚ÄúWe used to just film the gala and that‚Äôs it, but (Paul Pope) wants to video everything and use it in a variety of formats throughout the show and it‚Äôs made it a lot more versatile and interesting as a result,‚ÄĚ says Soucy.
Tickets for the Exit Realty on the Rock Comedy Festival are available at the St. John‚Äôs Arts and Culture Centre box office, by calling 729-3900, or online at www.artsandculturecentre.com. More information is available online at exitrealtycomfest.com.