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Jay in the life

Upstart Canadian comic Jay Malone returns to Nova Scotia to record a live album. Chuck Teed finds out why he’s terrified.


Comedy albums have enjoyed a resur-gence as of late. Both Tenacious D and Weird Al Yankovic recently hit the top 10 in the United States with their respective albums The Pick of Destiny and Straight out of Lynwood, while internet phenomenon Dane Cook has spent over a year on the charts with his double disc Retaliation. Comedy is hot right now, and this heat is translating into big cash for big laughs.

Enter Jay Malone. The Victoria-born, Toronto/Los Angeles-based comedian hits

the Ginger’s stage December 17 and 22 for two marathon sessions of stand-up, which will be recorded, edited and released on CD at a later date. It’s an ambitious undertaking, and Malone is understandably anxious about his date with the stage.

“I’m terrified,” he says, laughing. “You go to these shows, and you’re never guaranteed to have two, three, four great shows in a row, because it’s so dependent on the crowd. I’m really nervous about people showing up and coming out, things like that, but if it doesn’t go fantastic at least I’ll have some good tape.”

Malone, who grew up in Kentville, got his stand-up start in 1999 while attending the University of New Brunswick. “It was a spur-of-the-moment thing,” he says. “I had no comedic ambitions whatsoever, but my friend heard there was a comedy competition, and he dared me to call. Two days later I had to write eight minutes of stuff, and it happened so quick that I didn’t have time to think about it.”

Malone reached the finals and immediately caught the comedy bug. He moved to Toronto after 13 performances and became a fixture on the circuit, gigging regularly at The Laugh Resort and Comedywood. The transition to the stage didn’t come easy, however. “It was painful,” he says. “I am not a natural performer, and I had a thick shell to get out of. I have a writing background, so that came more naturally to me, but it was a hurdle to get comfortable in front of an audience.”

Malone’s shell eventually thinned, and he experienced his first breakthrough performance about three years after he picked up the microphone. “I had one show that I remember specifically, it was at the Laugh Resort about four years ago and I did a five-minute spot,” he recalls. “When you write jokes, you have to write the set-up and the punchline, and in your mind you fantasize that people are supposed to laugh here and here, and of course they never do.

“But this one night every single punchline got huge laughs, and I walked off stage sort of in a daze, because it worked exactly how it was supposed to work,” he continues. “And one of my friends said, that’s it, you’ve had the show, and now you’ve got to have that show every time. It’s a challenge, but it’s also cool to know that you can do that, so you’re chasing something that actually exists.”

This quest for laughs is what led Malone to record his CD at Ginger’s. In town visiting an ailing friend, Malone stumbled upon the Sunday Night Comedy Spectacular and fell in love with its thriving scene.

“My friend was in the hospital having a liver transplant and I promised that when I came down to Halifax I would hang out with him, so I did, and I met up with Peter White and the Sunday Night Comedy Spectacular,” he says. “They put me on three shows in a row, and it was just jammed with amazing people, and the jokes were working the way they were supposed to work. Peter suggested we do a show at Christmas and tape it, and I was like, ‘Yeah, maybe I should even do a CD,’ so that’s where the idea sparked from.

“Now my family can come. Some of the people laughing on my first CD are going to be my family and friends. It’s really cool, I love that idea, they’ll have copies and I’m sure they’ll want to pay for some.”

Jay Malone w/Peter White, December 17 and 22 at Ginger’s Tavern, 1662 Barrington, 8pm, $7 adv/$10 door, 425-5020.

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