Comedian Dave Hemstad said he found his calling on stage when he was touched by the universe, literally.
“I got hit by lightning and became a comedian, in that order,” said Hemstad, who is performing in Penticton on Saturday. “And no, you don’t get any super powers after being struck by lightning.”
Hemstad said he saw lightning crack a tree in half in front of him while on a golf course, which then ran through the ground and up his body. While suffering some nerve damage, it opened up his eyes to go after his passions in life. So when an opportunity came up while attending Missouri State University to take the stage at a student comedy night he took the leap. He immediately knew what his new calling was.
“Yes, the parents were really happy about that. I was attending college for free on a golf scholarship, on the dean’s list for academics, but guess what mom and dad, I am quitting school and becoming a comedian,” recounted Hemstad.
Despite boasting about his grades, Hemstad claims he is not smart enough to sit down and write up jokes, rather they come organically.
“Well that was an American school. Any Grade 10 Canadian could get on the honour roll there,” he joked.
Hemstad has a keen sense of storytelling and crafting his life experiences into a great joke. He said it comes from being inspired by Grammy Award-winner, satirist, writer/author and comedian George Carlin.
“I like to make comments on just the observations I make in my life and see if others are also making those same observations. That is where most of my material comes from,” said Hemstad.
The Ontario-born comic is a three-time Canadian Comedy Award nominee and began performing on national television in 2002. In addition to his own half-hour Comedy Now special on CTV and his gala performance at Just For Laughs Festival in Montreal, he has taped appearances for both the Halifax and Winnipeg Comedy Festivals for CBC. He also has many acting credits to his name including the Showcase comedy series Almost Heroes. The comedian is also well-known as a regular on CBC’s hit The Debators for both television and radio.
The immediacy of standing on a stage in front of an audience is where he is at home.
“There is nothing more of a rush than standing in front of a crowd and getting them to laugh and laughing along with them,” said Hemstad.
Hemstad will be providing one-third of the laughs expected on Saturday night at the 14th annual Community Foundation of the South Okanagan comedy festival which takes place at the Barking Parrot. Appearing alongside him are Erica Sigurdson and Kermet Apio.
Sigurdson is an award-winning comedy writer and stand-up comic. Her comedy travels have taken her to every corner of Canada, including the most northern point on earth, Alert, Nunavut. Sigurdson was twice nominated for a Canadian Comedy Award and won a Leo Award for Best Comedy Screenwriting. She has written for the 21st annual Gemini Awards, numerous CBC radio shows and pilots for CTV and The Comedy Network. Sigurdson is also known for her quick-wit on The Debators.
Born and raised in Hawaii, Apio is the 2009 winner of the Great American Comedy Festival in Nebraska and has appears on television and radio with over 40 appearances on Rewind, a show heard on NPR. Apio has called Seattle home since 1989 when he did his first open mic night at the Comedy Underground.
For the past 13 years the Community Foundation has teamed up with world-class comedians for a night out in Penticton with great food, a live and silent auction and loads of laughs.
“We have some top notch comedians lined up for this year’s Comedy Fest. All three are absolutely hilarious,” said Aaron McRann, executive director, Community Foundation of the South Okanagan Similkameen. “We have gathered some fantastic auction items that have been generously donated by local businesses — there will be something for everyone,” added McRann.
Thanks to significant support from Investors Group and our Friends of the Foundation, all proceeds from this incredible event go to operating the Community Foundation of the South Okanagan Similkameen.
“We’re very proud to have such great sponsors,” said McRann. “Without their support we wouldn’t be able to host such high quality comedians. Every year the show sells out because it is simply the best comedy show in Penticton.”
Tickets for the show are $60 and available at the Penticton Lakeside Resort. The show takes place at the Barking Parrot, doors open at 6 p.m. with the show starting at 8 p.m.