Writer stands up for standup


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Born in Virginia. Built his career in L.A. and New York. Currently has residences in Montana and England.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 08/04/2010 (4731 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Born in Virginia. Built his career in L.A. and New York. Currently has residences in Montana and England.

All of which, of course, makes comedian/author Rich Hall a natural pick for a comedy-fest gala titled Whose Canada Is It Anyway?, doesn’t it?

"I’m going to make it sound like I’ve really paid attention to Canada, when I haven’t really," Hall laughs. "That’s the beauty of what I do, and what any writer does — to say what I’m going to say, and somehow keep it within a believable framework."

Friday’s late-night gala, which is hosted by Kids in the Hall veteran Scott Thompson, also features performances by Derek Seguin, Don Kelly, Sam Easton, Franco Taddeo and Gilson Lubin. Tickets are $39.95, available at Ticketmaster.

While his Canuck counterparts serve up varying perspectives on who and what makes up this country, Hall will no doubt be expected to offer an outsider’s view of Canada’s quirks.

"Well, everything I’ve ever said that’s not about Canada would be an outsider’s view of Canada," he said, "so I’m not too worried about content."

Hall, 55, has been a staple on the American comedy scene since the early ’80s, appearing as a regular on such sketch-comedy shows as Fridays (1980-82) and Saturday Night Live (1984-85). His fascination with language also led him to author the popular series of Sniglets books that invented and compiled "words that don’t appear in the dictionary, but should."

In recent years, Hall has built a second career as a popular comedian and writer in the U.K., making numerous appearances at the Edinburgh Comedy Festival and producing several series and specials for British TV.

Hall said his time overseas has given him a renewed sense of purpose about comedy.

"I went to the Edinburgh festival, basically because they invited me, and it was a real eye-opener. I suddenly realized that there’s a whole different appreciation for comedy. In America, when you’re a standup, people look at you and think, ‘How long are you going to do this before you jump to something else?’ And I’ve always seen comedy as a justifiable art form that’s as legitimate as music or poetry or anything else."

Hall added that he maintains a certain level of appreciation for smaller comedy festivals, such as Winnipeg’s, where the focus is less on landing a sitcom deal or a network contract and much more on just being funny.

"I’ve always found that to be true here (in Canada), except for Montreal, where it’s almost laughable the way comics are lap-dancing around (TV) producers. But even there, I found that the galas have the best audiences — a great theatre, and great crowds to perform for."

For more comedy-fest fun, check out my blog, Comedy Festering, at www.winnipegfreepress.com.


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Brad Oswald

Brad Oswald
Perspectives editor

After three decades spent writing stories, columns and opinion pieces about television, comedy and other pop-culture topics in the paper’s entertainment section, Brad Oswald shifted his focus to the deep-thoughts portion of the Free Press’s daily operation.

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