© â Submitted photo
Comedian Pete Soucy as Dundersnook
St. Johnâs comedian Sarah Walsh says sheâs doesnât know if her jokes are funny or just weird, but, in any case, they make people laugh.
Clearly sheâs doing something right, since stand-up comedy isnât 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.
âItâs an ability. Itâs a facility with the craft. Itâs timing. Itâs a natural insight. Itâs so many things,â Soucy says of what makes a good comedian.
âItâs difficult to teach. You can nurture it in somebody that has the potential. Itâs like music, I suppose: you either have it or you donât, 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, sheâs performed at Yuk Yukâs venues across the country, and recently had a spot on the Rogers TV special, âComedy in the City.â She also writes and illustrates âKiddo,â her own cartoon.
Like most comedians, Walshâs material comes from everyday life.
âItâs inspired by things I see that strike me as funny, and it just develops from there,â she says.
Walsh and Jason Card were chosen by festival organizers as two of the provinceâs fast-rising stars in the world of comedy, and will participate in the comedy festivalâs CBC Opening Gala, June 13, along with Snook and comedians Derek Sequin, Jon Steinberg, Rebecca Kohler, John Sheehan, Paul Edwards and Steve Coombs.
âIâm really excited, but a little confused â did they get the right person?â Walsh says of her participation in the gala. âItâs awesome. Iâve been buzzing about it ever since they told me.â
Since it was founded seven years ago as the St. Johnâs 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. Johnâs 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 Radioâs âThe Debaters,â and Canadian Comedy Award winner, whoâs been to this province numerous times, both with the festival and separate from it. He stopped in
St. Johnâs most recently in 2011, as host of the âJust For Laughs Tour: British Editionâ with a handful of comics from the U.K.
âSteveâs been here many times, and heâs got a great profile,â Soucy says. âHeâs really good and really versatile, plus heâs got a natural likeability, which I think is the secret to his success. Heâs a smart and funny guy, and heâs really got a charisma that seems to work for him every single time.â
Patterson will also host the Stand-Up Spotlight, and perform his own one-man show, âThis is Not Debatable!,â end to the festival.
Thereâll also be some special, unannounced guests, Soucy says, including a character called Dundersnook â 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.
âItâs so silly, the drag thing,â he says, laughing. âPeople recognize it right away. I donât know if itâs the wig or we have the same nose or what.â
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 yearâs show aired nationally on CBC.
âWe used to just film the gala and thatâs it, but (Paul Pope) wants to video everything and use it in a variety of formats throughout the show and itâs made it a lot more versatile and interesting as a result,â says Soucy.
Tickets for the Exit Realty on the Rock Comedy Festival are available at the St. Johnâs Arts and Culture Centre box office, by calling 729-3900, or online at www.artsandculturecentre.com. More information is available online at exitrealtycomfest.com.