Calgarians are funny

By McKinley Wiens

Are you a fan of stand-up comedy? If you’re looking for a chance to get out and enjoy an amazing collection of world-class comedians, then look no further.

YYComedy Festival will be hitting the streets of Calgary from September 24–30, and will be showcasing some of Canada’s best comedians.

One of the things that is unique about the festival is that it is celebrating Calgarian comedians, and bringing attention back to the city where many world-class comedians are from.

“The festival is the first of its kind,” says Cory Mack, one of the show’s producers. “No city has ever celebrated its own comedians like this.”

You may recognize some of the performers, including comedians from Kids in the Hall, Saturday Night Live and Just for Laughs, and well-known stars like Gavin Crawford, host of This Hour Has 22 Minutes. And that’s just the start.

In total, there will be over 170 comedians performing in 33 different shows across the city.

“This has never happened,” says Harry Doupe, comedian of 22 years and one of the three producers of the YYComedy Festival. “This many different headliners have never gotten together for one Calgary show.”

The festival is, in part, a celebration of Calgary becoming this year’s cultural capital of Canada, as well as National Arts Day, which is occurring during the festival.

“We wanted everyone involved,” says Doupe. “The comedy clubs who don’t normally ever work together, all the weekly stand-up shows that happen, they’re all stacking their lineup. It’s the biggest show they are going to be putting together for the entire year.”

Mack and Doupe believe that Canadian comics sometimes undervalue their own comedic prowess, and that more effort should be put into recognizing their contribution to Canadian culture.

“I think Canadian comedy is the biggest cultural export we have,” says Mack. “And if we’re the cultural capital of Canada, why not celebrate it? It’s really celebrating and honouring comedians the way they should be, because they’ve added so much to the Canadian perspective.”

Comedians who will be performing at YYComedy took home awards in six of the seven categories they were nominated in while at this summer’s Canadian Comedy Awards.

“It’s a rare opportunity to look at how much this city has contributed to comedy,” says Mack.

Doupe hopes the festival will also raise awareness of lesser-known comedians in Calgary — the hidden gems that perform regularly in the city. Mack, a comedian herself, knows how good it feels to have a captive audience.

“It’s the best thing in the world. There’s nothing better than when you’re in the zone. You’re bringing people together.”

Three of the comedy shows will take place at the University of Calgary. Pat Kelly and Peter Oldring, from CBC Radio’s This is That, will be at the university on September 26 and Gavin Crawford on September 27. The University of Calgary Comedy Club will also perform a free show in That Empty Space on September 25.