Full bladders were not recommended at the third annual Uptown Waterloo Comedy Festival.
Famous Canadian comedians such as Brent Butt and Debra DiGiovanni took the stage to perform stand-up comedy and laughed while the world laughed with them at several locations in Waterloo from March 8 to 12.
The festival began three years ago thanks to executive producer, Phil LeConte, who believed his hometown of Waterloo needed a comedy festival.
On March 8, the Opening Night Festival Gala was held at First United Church in Waterloo. It featured six hilarious comedians including Brent Butt. When asked about being nervous before performing, Butt said, “For me, this is the only part of the day that makes sense. The rest of the day, I don’t know what I’m doing.”
Originally from the small town of Tisdale, Sask., Butt has gone on to great fame, appearing in various productions including episodes of The Kids in The Hall and The X-Files. In 2004, he created the Canadian hit Corner Gas where he had several roles including creator, writer, executive producer and director.
This was his third time in Waterloo. He was suggesting that Kitchener and Waterloo become one and call itself “Kitchen-Water.”
Chris Gibbs, a British-born comedian was the host for the evening and introduced each act as well as sharing his comedic experiences comparing Americans to the English. He said he is always asked if he can “turn off” his accent but that would imply that he had been talking wrong his whole life. He can, however, sound like most Americans. Can he tell the difference between an American and a Canadian accent? With his British accent he said, “No, sorry you all sound the same!”
Gibbs, as well as most of the other comedians, found it strange to perform mature jokes in a church setting. He said he felt as if he was going to get struck by a bolt of lightning.
Another comedian joking about the setting was Todd Allen from Victoria, B.C., who has appeared on The Late Late Show on CBS, the Comedy Network and the Just For Laughs Comedy Festival in Montreal. He enjoys the sound of laughter from the audience. “I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t get tingly inside. That’s the reason I do it, for that sound. I really like it.”
He grew up in Victoria where his family tree lives or what he calls “the family cactus because there are tons of pricks.”
Continuing on the mocking Americans theme, he said he moved to the United States in 2008 when the economy was not in good shape. When crossing the border, he said he showed his papers and the border official told him arrogantly that he was just another Canadian coming to steal American jobs. The punch line to the joke was when Allen said, “With all due respect sir, what jobs?”
The next comedian to take the stage was from Ottawa. Nile Seguin has appeared at the Just For Laughs Festival and Winnipeg Comedy Festival and is a regular on-air contributor for CBC Radio.
The laughs continued as comedian Rob Pue took the stage. He won the 28th Annual San Francisco International Comedy Competition in 2003 and appeared as a regular on the MTV series Punk’d. He is an energetic and sociable comedian and is known for expressing life as it is without leaving any detail out.
One of his jokes included his experience crossing the border from Alberta to Montana on a bus where he received a quiz in which the first question was, ‘Are you a terrorist?’ “If I was a terrorist, I wouldn’t want the bomb to blow in southern Canada, no one would care,” he quipped.
Seán Cullen is an eccentric man who is known for combining his talent in music and improvisation. From Peterborough, he has appeared frequently on CBC’s Royal Canadian Air Farce.
Cullen interacted with the audience and was able to make everyone laugh with his improvisation.
He commented on how he dislikes the police response time in Toronto.
“Last night, a werewolf attacked me on my lawn so I shot him in the chest killing him instantly. Then I phoned the police saying there’s a werewolf on my lawn dead, hurry. Ten minutes goes by, 15 minutes, then 20 minutes. They show up like half-an-hour later and what did they see? A naked man dead on my lawn. If you had been here 25 minutes ago, he would’ve been covered in hair and fangs. So I was charged with murder.”
In addition to making residents laugh, the event supported the Food Bank of Waterloo Region, raising over $1,400 and over 700 lbs of food.
Overall, the shows were successful as volunteer Brytni Tregunna, who is also a visual merchandising student at Conestoga College, said that most shows were sold out.
“The guys have put so much effort into the show this year with the Gala Night as well as the festival and it was well worth it!”