That is the jab comedian Lorne Elliott had to say after hearing about the late summer weather Okanagan residents are having. The wild-haired humourist knows all too well it is what the Okanagan is about, having brought his one man show to the area many times. And, he is coming to enjoy some of that warm fall weather himself. On Oct. 14 Elliott is performing at Centre Stage Theatre in Summerland with his show called The Upside of the Downturn.
“The title refers to where it takes off from, you know, I lost all my money and all those depressing things in the downturn so I was looking for an upside and that is the rest of the show really,” said Elliott. “Well, I didn’t actually lose all my money. I still got 14 cents, I think.”
An “escaped” marine biologist, Elliott worked his way through bars playing folk music on the east coast of Canada. It was during this time he created a show that has stood the test of time using his keen observation of today’s events and his music.
“In Newfoundland, usually when you broke a guitar string you would tell a joke to pass the time while someone was changing it. I found people liked the jokes better than they liked my songs. That is when I started to write jokes,” said Elliott.
Add in musical saw to the special skills he lists and you have yourself a show.
“A friend and I had a group called Free Beer. It was the age of the synthesizer and we found if you had a saw and hit it violently it made these weird synthesizer sounds. When your in a bar everyone would instantly sit down and shut up just because they saw you are playing a saw,” said Elliott. “The fact you are doing something different trumps the fact that you are doing it well. Plus, if no one liked it they aren’t going to say anything because hey, you got a saw. Nobody would go after someone with a saw. He has got a blade with him man.”
Doing music and comedy, Elliott said he was kind of an outcast. Standup comedians wouldn’t title him as such because of it.
“Pure stand-ups were always ticked off I was playing the guitar,” he said.
But, that was the risk he took. Elliott believes that is what comedy is all about.
“You never know what is going to work. It’s going to be a risk and that is what it should be or else you are not doing your job.”
He writes fiction, songs, monologues, plays and one-liners. The outcome is a show of comedy and music, totally original, entertaining, up-lifting and foolish enough to make everyone laugh. That mix had him opening for Rodney Dangerfield in New York City, Jay Leno in Montreal and regular appearances at the Montreal Just For Laughs Festival. Then there are the television specials for CBC and weekly comedy series on CBC radio. It is from his unusual life from marine biologist student, folk musician to touring comedian that he gathers his material.
“Somebody tripping on a banana peel is not particularly funny for the person who breaks his hip, but it is hilarious to watch. I don’t know why that is, but maybe it’s not that it’s causing pain but causing confusion. A break from the normal,” said Elliott.
Tickets for Lorne Elliott’s The Upside of the Downturn, 8 p.m. at Centre Stage Theatre on Oct. 14, are available at Martin’s Flowers and The Dragon’s Den for $20. A percentage of the proceeds will be put towards the creation of the Annual George Ryga Award for Social Awareness in B.C. Writing and Publishing to be awarded in the spring of 2013.