Regina has never been known as intentionally hilarious, but all that changed last weekend when the prairie city hosted the Canadian Comedy Awards. Perpetuating stereotypes that everyone who lives on the east coast are so gosh-darn funny, Nikki Payne won for best female stand-up and Halifax homeskillet Ellen Page nabbed best female performance in a film for Juno. Of course, This Hour Has 22 Minutes filled their wheelbarrow with nominations, including wins for Gerry Hall, Gavin Crawford and the writing team, but we were most excited about Picnicface, who represented with noms for best sketch troupe and for Powerthirst.Just in case you’re like me, and you need to watch it again.
Picnicface’s Brian MacQuarrie wrote me after the awards with all the news:
Hi Sue, Regina was awesome. I talked to Debra DiGiovanni and we both agreed the Canadian Comedy Awards are like summer camp for comedians. Literally take some of hardest working comedians, slap them in the same city for a weekend and then say, "play!"
Picnicface landed in Regina at a perfect time, the leaves were changing and the weather was beautiful. Sometimes, here in Halifax, it can be difficult to find a place to play Frisbee or to toss the ol' pigskin, but not in Regina. Not at all! They have a lot of fields. I heard the rumours and let me tell you, "not rumours! It's ALL true!" Regina is the city of Fields.
Our time there started with our cab driver telling us, "I know you guys are almost late for your tech rehearsal, but I want to show you a few things." And with that we began driving in the opposite direction. Say goodbye to our hotel, say hello to the World’s longest bridge over the smallest body of water. "And on your right you'll see our most famous cabinet minister's former home. Colin Thatcher," our self-proclaimed tour guide told us. "Cool" I exclaimed, trying to make chitchat, "Did he change Regina for the better?" Thinking this was their Joseph Howe or Alexander Keith. Nope. Not even close. "He murdered his ex-wife in their garage and it was all over the news." I guess you take your famous historical figures as you get them.
Regina afforded me a lifelong dream to meet some of my childhood favourite comedians, Mike MacDonald, Mike Willmont and Jeremy Hotz. Jeremy was this year's recipient of the Dave Broadfoot Comedic Genius Award. And he received the award after doing one of the best standup sets I had ever seen. As a starting-out comedian, you head to these things thinking, "I know what funny is, I have it figured out." And then you watch Jeremy Hotz perform and you realize, "Nope! You don't even have a clue what funny is."
Speaking of funny, Picnicface also got to meet Kids in the Hall member Dave Foley, who didn't hesitate to mispronounce my last name. "Brian Mac Guire E." Dave Foley is by far my favourite Kid in the Hall and to simply say, "hi" was awesome. Regina became this place where I could relive the times where I had watched these great comedians I watched on TV and was a place where I could show off my funny. It was a humbling place too...Picnicface lost in both categories we were nominated in. Pretty Funny Canadian Sketch Troupe went to Canadian Content, a sketch troupe from Vancouver and Pretty Funny Internet Sketch or Webisode went to a woman talking about her poop.
I learned a lot about comedy that night...The set up and punch-line way of comedy was old, it's all about stating the obvious. "I'm sitting on a toilet. I'm pooping in that toilet that I'm sitting on. I'm looking at my poop in the toilet that I pooped in, when I sat on it.” This has changed my outlook on comedy for the better. I can feel it. I'm going to tell so many factual… So I'm a little bummed about losing in both categories, mainly that poop category, but oh well. This weekend was more about the friendships hashed and bonds formed with your fellow comedians. As cheesy as that sounds, talking to Irwin Barker about comedy will replace any plastic poop-trophy. Having Debra DiGiovanni go out of her way to tell me, "I love Picnicface!" beats winning best sketch troupe in Canada any day. And watching the different sketch styles from the best of the best in Canada was great! I can't wait to steal some of their ideas and pass them off as my own! And next year, we hope to be taking part in the Vancouver Comedy Fest, via the connections we made during this trip. Thanks Regina for all the memories!