Amateurs go for guffaws at pub comedy nights

There appear to be many more would-be stand-up comedians on the Sunshine Coast than there are places for them to perform. The 101 Brewhouse + Distillery has figured that out and is providing an opportunity for some amateur jokesters to try out their material in monthly shows this summer at its Gibsons venue.

“There’s a [comedy] hole to be filled,” the pub’s events manager, Faye Kiewitz, told Coast Reporter. In the eight months since Kiewitz has had the job, she experimented with some improv and comedy nights and saw the potential. She said the more she asked around, the more she heard the name Paula Howley, a local public-speaking coach and, as it turned out, an amateur comic who had performed in Vancouver clubs.

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“I approached her and she was completely interested,” said Kiewitz. “So, she’s been organizing it all.” The result has been a series of three comedy nights, with the third Amateur Comedy Challenge set to go in August. Howley, who emcees the evenings along with Vancouver producer and comedian Leena Manro, has been holding occasional workshops where she helps the first-timers figure out what they think is funny and how to write that into jokes.

If the July 17 show was any indication, what’s funny has a lot to do with sex. Most of the jokes on the subject were pretty good, but none can be repeated in a family newspaper. Among the four local performers (five more Vancouver comics were also on the bill), three were women and each of them – Howley, Ivy Lock and Suzanne Doyle-Ingram – had the packed house howling about virtually one topic, the perils of sex and dating. “It was pretty raunchy,” Kiewitz admitted.

The only local male to do a set was musician Steve Weave, who it so happened was the only married performer. He didn’t touch on coupling or courtship but had everyone in stitches with his tales of a middle-aged man’s adventures with voodoo-grade pot.

Despite the risk of doing an ego-crushing, no-laughs routine, there’s no shortage of local people clamouring to give stand-up a shot, Kiewitz noted. “We have a waiting list, and some who’ve done it say they want to do it again,” she said. “It’s the adrenaline rush and thrill that propels most people to do it.”

Only one person has bombed, and it was someone who had skipped Howley’s workshop but insisted on performing, said Kiewitz. Now, all are vetted and tuned up well before their five-minute sets. She added that Vancouver comics enjoy the friendly Coast crowds. “They don’t get such a warm welcome in Vancouver. They’re thrilled with our audience and how engaged they are.”

The next comedy night at the 101 is Wednesday, Aug. 21 at 8 p.m. Admission is $5, which pays for the ferry and a meal for the Vancouver performers, and covers the cost of calming and fortifying the local amateurs with a drink.

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