Witty trio booked for Annual Comedy Festival

Three renowned funny men are making a pit stop at the Barking Parrot

Three renowned funny men are making a pit stop at the Barking Parrot as a fundraiser for the Community Foundation of the South Okanagan Similkameen.

Providing the laughs at the 16th Annual Community Foundation Comedy Fest on Oct. 3 will be comedians Dwight Slade, John Wing and Kelly Taylor. Their humour has been called upon for the Just for Laughs Comedy Festival, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, CBC Radio and Comedy Central programming.

“The guys that we bring in are such high-quality comedians that have such a long history in the industry. There’s really no other comedy event in Penticton that has this quality of comedians,” said Aaron McRann, executive director for the community foundation. “They’re proven professionals so we can pretty much guarantee it’s going to be funny.”

McRann said each comedian has a different style and unique content, so they’ll relate to many different perspectives within the audience.

Embracing the style of self-deprecating humour will be Fry.

“I enjoy making fun of stuff that’s happening to me,” he said. “My micro-problems sometimes point out something macro in the larger world, but I don’t do that deliberately.”

That hard-boiled attitude makes him a valuable contestant on CBC’s The Debaters, where a live audience decides the winning comedian by applause.

“It’s a fabulous format for comedy, you just can’t care if you win or lose – you have to serve the comedy of it. I was debating a woman over a gender issue, and I knew the largely-female audience was going to hate me – I love that. It allows this enormous freedom. You could say virtually anything you wanted knowing they weren’t going to like you anyway, so what’s the big deal?”

Fry said some of his routines have included material that came from The Debaters, as the program gives contestants an easy platform to write clean comedy.

“Sometimes you write a joke and think, ‘wow what a great joke that is – too bad I can’t tell it on a cruise ship or corporate event.’ After a while you start wonder what good are those jokes?”

To appeal to mainstream audiences, Fry said clean comedy is essential. While competing in America’s Got Talent, Fry said a joke about lusting for prostitutes was disallowed by the producers, but he managed to tweak it into something he could tell on TV.

“I made it equally as suggestive, but instead I showed the joke in a marital context rather than cheating,” he said. “By going to make it cleaner, I wrote a better joke – one that more people can relate to, and one I can tell anywhere.”

Fry said he was fired from every job he ever had after college, and therefore has no other option than to craft high quality comedy.

“Once I was fired from a brokerage firm (in 1980), I had a year of unemployment, and at the end of that year I struck out on my own as a comic. Haven’t cashed a regular paycheque since then.”

Now in his mid-50s, Fry has decades of material behind him, but said a comedian has to keep their shtick relevant to the times.

“Supposed you wrote the thematic part 10 years ago, let’s say at 45 – now you’re 55, and you’re not that guy anymore. That’s the problem. That’s why you need to remain contemporary, because you’re not always the same guy, and the audience will sense that you’ve moved past this person that you’re talking about, and then what you’re doing is borderline dishonest.”

The show starts at 5:30 p.m. Tickets, including dinner, cost $65 and are available at the Penticton Lakeside Resort front desk. All proceeds support the Community Foundation of the South Okanagan Similkameen.