Because getting up on stage, a bright glaring spotlight only on you, trying to be funny, with the only sound being the dull hum of the sound system, in front of strangers is like going for a root canal work: slow and painful.
So why would anyone want to try stand-up comedy?
Because. It’s just there … something inside that tells us
a) we are funny
b) we can make other people laugh
c) it’s only four or five minutes, so why not?
I know: in November of 2004 — can’t believe it’s been 20 years ago — I followed a lifelong dream when I went on stage at Yuk Yuk’s in West Edmonton Mall. It was a Wednesday and they called it Amateur Night.
I’m going back to the future.
THE 2014 EDMONTON COMEDY FESTIVAL begins Wednesday and runs through til Saturday. As part of the fun the Edmonton Comedy Festival Media Challenge takes place at The Ranch Road House at 8 p.m. A dozen of us — including Edmonton Sun video editor Nathan Martin and reporter Trent Wilkie from the Edmonton Examiner along with myself — will be trying to tell jokes.
“I’m expecting a few surprises. I’ve seen almost everyone’s set and at least a couple of them are pretty raunchy,” says comedy festival executive producer and veteran comedian Andrew Grose. It’s always a shock to see someone who must never swear or cross the line in one job go way over the line in this. There’s also a wide range of topics and styles… everyone has put a lot of work into getting ready for this.
“I suspect they’ll be some outstanding sets and some car crashes.”
ANDREW STARTED THE friendly competition two years ago when he found purchasing advertising for the Comedy Festival was expensive. Really expensive.
“So I came up with a media competition. By inviting a dozen media personalities from TV, radio and print I suddenly had all these news agencies talking about the Festival, and it didn’t cost me a thing,” says Andrew.
Besides, he says, most people working as reporters and radio an television hosts like talking about themselves. (No, really?)
Andrew has seen countless amateur competitions. He says the media contest is different because the audience knows all of the contestants.
He also says there wasn’t a media challenge last year because there isn’t enough media members interested in making it an annual event.
“It took me two years to get people to say yes for this year’s show,” says Andrew.
SPEAKING FROM EXPERIENCE the first time on stage was an unforgettable memory.
Veteran funny man Ken Valgardson ran the show and told me I had five minutes.
Never have been very good telling time. I was up there for 14 minutes and things went reasonably well.
I was so pumped from the experience I couldn’t sleep at all that night.
It’s an incredible rush. It could return.
So what will Thursday night be like?
I really don’t know.
There are some characters who will be on stage and all of them can tell stories.
Who knows? Some lifelong dreams might come true.
And if there’s some laughter generated along the way it could certainly be a night to remember.
(Cam Tait is the special projects advisor for Challenge Insurance.)