On Sept. 27, comedians Pete Zedlacher, Tim Nutt and Greg Morton will be at the Barking Parrot for the Community Foundation of the South Okanagan’s annual comedy night.
Zedlacher recently celebrated being a part of the comedy scene for 18 years and he’s also appeared on numerous Canadian TV shows.
“Time flies when you’re having fun,” he said, adding that he’s amazed when he recounts how a career as comedian has allowed him to travel the world.
“Last year, I was inside the Great Pyramid of Giza,” said Zedlacher. “Who would think that would happen?”
His introduction to comedy came about as a result of the late Jim Henson.
“When I was a very little boy, I was watching The Muppet Show,” he said. “I was watching Fozzie Bear and I said to my mom, ‘What does that mean, he’s a comedian’?”
“She said, ‘That’s his job, that’s what he does, he makes people laugh,’ and I said, ‘I’m going to be a comedian.’”
Zedlacher said that as much as he finds it “incredible” being a comic, it comes with a price.
“It involves a lot of hard work,” he said. “You’ve got to be obsessed with the craft. There’s so many times I’m just going out there, and I’m hitting the open mike stage, just to work on some new jokes because that’s what you have to do.”
Zedlacher touched on comedian and actor Robin Williams, who took his own life on Aug. 11, as well as comic Joan Rivers, who died Sept. 4.
“It’s been a terrible year for comedy,” he said. “We’ve lost two giants in the span of a month. I went back and I watched some of Robin Williams’ movies and I got a lump in my throat. I worked with him one time in Toronto, and he was a sweetheart of a guy. “He was genuine. It’s very sad that he’s not going to be around anymore.”
Nutt isn’t one to wax poetic about the philosophical nature of his chosen profession, however, he believes he’s learned a thing or two since his first show about 20 years ago.
He said looking at the success of a joke from an objective point of view isn’t important.
“It doesn’t work because you think it works,” he said. “It works because it works.”
He also noted if a comedian had any idea of how bad they were when they started, they’d quit.
“I found an old cassette from the really early years, and I couldn’t listen to more than five minutes of it. I thought I was terrible,” he said.
“I never really aspired to it but I’d always been kind of a smart alec at the kitchen party kind of thing,” he said.
One day, while working at a restaurant when he was living in the Vancouver area, he was carrying a large pot of soup when he slipped and fell down a flight of stairs, rupturing his spine in two places. The accident kept him off work for a year. However, he decided to use his time off to do some free stand-up gigs.
This happened around 1993, at about the same time when a lot of “fringe-type” comedians were trying to capitalize on a comedy boom that began in the late 1980s, said Nutt. Many of them began to leave the scene or got fired, and that opened opportunities for him and others.
“There was a number of us in Vancouver that probably got pushed into the industry before we were ready,” he said. “It was sink or swim.”
In a couple of his early appearances, Nutt was either greeted with a chorus of boos or was heckled but realized that if he was going to make it, he needed to learn to cope.
“There’s a certain point where you realize that it doesn’t hurt you physically,” he said. “It’s almost a zen thing. When you stop caring about the outcome, the results are much better.”
After years of performing, those days starting out as a comedian no longer haunt Nutt, who said he gets excited before a show as opposed to getting nervous.
The last time he felt a twinge of nerves was a couple of years ago, when he was performing in the grandstand show at the Calgary Stampede in front of about 20,000 people.
“I was more concerned that they couldn’t hear me, because it was geared for singers and explosions,” said Nutt. “I followed a team of motorcycle acrobats that drove around the inside of a steel ball and jumped their dirt bikes over the entire stage, with a hundred teenagers dancing to Pat Benatar, and then they shut it down, put on the spotlight and handed me a microphone.”
Tickets for the show are $65 and available at the Penticton Lakeside Resort.
Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and showtime is 8 p.m.