Brent Butt performs in Halifax Thursday, March 15 at the Rebecca Cohn (8pm. $35/$40). He answers a few questions for us about comics (print variety), comics (stand-up variety) and making a hit.
Q: What is a typical day for Brent Butt?
BB: A lot of time at the gym. A lot of working out. Running mostly—couple hours on the elliptical… thingy. OK… I don’t go to the gym. To be honest, there is no “typical” day for me. My duties and obligations change day-by-day and project-by-project, so it’s always different. Keeps it from ever being boring.
Q: Are you still a comic/graphic novel fan? Who do you read now?
BB: I still love the medium and the art form, but I have not kept up. I have no contemporary framework or reference as to what’s out there now. When I buy comics now, it’s usually something with classic roots; Batman, Spiderman, Avengers.
Q: More often these days, some comedians are choosing to skip the comedy club circuit and perform in alternative venues. What do you think about this? Is this something you'd consider? What do you like or dislike about comedy clubs?
BB: Physically, comedy clubs are still, in my mind, the perfect place to do stand-up when it comes to space and environment. The problem with them is that there can be too many restrictions/rules about what you can and can’t say onstage. That part sucks. It’s an expressive art form and it should not be censored.
Q: Do you have any advice for younger comedians looking to make it?
BB: I usually tell them to suck up the courage and give it a try. But that’s to be nice. What I sometimes tell them is this: “Look, if you’re debating it, if you’re on the fence about it… don’t bother. It’s not for you.” It should be reserved for people who have to do it. People who would be miserable not doing it. If you’re able to not do it, then don’t. That’s the honest answer.
Q: How has performing in a stand-up comedy setting changed with your success?
BB: Usually now, people are coming to see me specifically. When you start out, people are coming to a generic “comedy” show. It’s just a bunch of comics, of which you are one. Once you get a fan base, the crowd is made up people who know you, like you, and have come to see you specifically. So that’s nice. But it still only buys you about 10 minutes of acceptance. After that, you have to be funny or the love really drops off.
Q: What kept you going in the early days of your stand-up career?
BB: It never seemed like a sacrifice to me. I was broke, living in horrible hovels, or couch surfing around the country, but it was never a sacrifice. I loved almost every minute of it, so I didn’t need anything to “keep me going”. I wanted to keep going. I was never going to do anything else.
Q: In a market where Canadian sitcoms don't seem to last, why do you think Corner Gas worked for six seasons?
BB: I don’t have an answer for that. Not a single answer, anyway. If there were some magical formula I knew about, I’d just keep repeating it and creating hit after hit after hit. But I do think that one of the reasons people responded to Corner Gas is because it was authentic. It wasn’t trying to be cool, or hip, or edgy, or any of that crap. People see through that contrived attitude a mile away. With us, we were just trying to be a fun, funny half hour of television. No other agenda. And people responded to that. I also think we did a good job on the show. It was well written, well acted, well shot… all that good stuff. It was a great team.