A fledgling standup comedy scene is taking hold on the Sunshine Coast, led by a first time comic with serious ambition for funny business.
The next installment of the Coast Comedy series takes place on Saturday, Jan. 14. The series of monthly shows began last November at the ‘Postrophe cabaret in Lower Gibsons, adjacent to the Tapworks Brewing Company.
Coast Comedy is the brainchild of theatre practitioner Sophia Ballantyne. Ballantyne is a graduate of the stage and screen program at Capilano University who settled in the United Kingdom after completing her diploma. The pandemic triggered her return to her Gibsons hometown, where she became an active contributor to occasional open mic nights at Tapworks.
“It was there that I started doing standup seven months ago,” Ballantyne said. “And I fell in love with it pretty quickly. I decided that I wanted to create some sort of constant comedy scene in general.”
Ballantyne connected with Vancouver comedian Darcy Boon Collins after Collins visited Gibsons for a show in mid-2022. She explained her vision and recruited Collins to become one of the featured comics at the inaugural Coast Comedy show in mid-November, joined by touring performer Dion Arnold. Ballantyne’s onetime high school chum, local comedian Rae Lynn Carson, hosted the inaugural show.
“Rae Lynn is one of the funniest people I’ve ever met,” said Ballantyne. “They’re just really a great piece of the community, and I’m lucky that Rae Lynn is into this and helping me out. They’re just kind of a local legend in my eyes and I’m really really happy to have them around.”
Ballantyne also took the mic herself, overcoming nerves to deliver a short segment of observational humour.
“I’m comfortable speaking in front of people, but this was a nervous that I’ve never experienced before,” she recalled. “It’s really intense, just you and the microphone and no idea how it’s going to turn out. But it’s a welcoming room, and it’s always a good night and everyone always is very supportive.”
‘Postrophe is an intimate venue, with a capacity of about 35 patrons. Its manager Malcolm Jack uses the space primarily as a recording studio. For Ballantyne, the crowded, dusky setting is perfect for the visceral experience of live standup.
At the December show, Ballantyne herself took the mic as host, while two Vancouver actors, Mufaro Mbudzi and Colin Cowan, appeared as headliners.
For the upcoming show, Ballantyne will return as host, leading a lineup of comedians with something specific in common.
“I wanted to do a female — basically a no-male — comedian show,” she said. “That was one of my goals early on, because like a lot of professions, [comedy is] very male-driven and it’s harder for women and such to sort of crack into the business and be taken seriously. So I really wanted to showcase more female talent as well.” Carson, Randee Neumeyer and Alannah Brittnay are on the marquee.
Scott Collison and Faye Kiewitz, ubiquitous Sunshine Coast entertainers who run local trivia contests and music events, have become informal mentors for Ballantyne in her quest to encourage local standup.
“Their zest and appreciation for the community and providing fun things was a big part of why I decided to do this,” she said. “Comedy is where I’m starting to find my passion.”
Tickets for early and late shows on Jan. 14 are available via local listings on Eventbrite. Coast Comedy is active on Instagram at @coast.comedy.