We Needed That Laugh!
It would not be appropriate to write about comedy and not mention the importance of good timing; a quality which both the comedians and the organizers of the second annual Port Credit comedy festival seem to have mastered.
I challenge you to think of a better time to organize a comedy festival than the three days that span February 27 to March 1. There simply isn't a time of year during which comedy is more needed or appreciated. If you are thinking of disagreeing with that assertion, allow me to point you to Exhibit A: the three nights of laughter which were barely contained in three very distinct but equally apt and equally sold out venues.
These three nights were, in no small part, made possible by the efforts of the Port Credit community in the form of volunteers, workers, and sponsors - truly a team effort. On that note, I would also like to specifically commend Ellen Timms and the Port Credit BIA for their hard work in helping make the three nights a shining success. And yes, the comedians deserve a considerable amount of kudos as well, which is on its way - keep reading.
The line-up was comprised of an eclectic group of funny individuals, each of whom shared with the audience their experiences, struggles, and points of view. Some of the topics one might have considered sensitive, but the comedians' authenticity on stage made it obvious that no offense was intended. All of the comedians demonstrated the merits of comedy not just by providing a good time, but by allowing the audience to share a genuine sense of community.
It was not by accident that I proclaimed the venues appropriate for the comedy festival. They consisted of the First United Church of Port Credit, Clarke Memorial Hall and the Royal Canadian Legion Branch #82. At first glance, a church, a former Sunday school and a Legion branch might not seem like the ideal places to share "inappropriate" jokes and "frivolous" opinions, but when one looks closer at the great performances a valuable and valid connection becomes apparent.
The purpose of all church buildings, aside from the prayer, is to serve as places for people to share their trials and tribulations, to come together as a community and support each other in their endeavors. It seemed to me that the opening night of the festival, with Mike Bullard as host, could not have a better venue.
Mike Bullard, having spent his life in Port Credit, played perfectly the part of the audacious priest, far too familiar with the goings-on of the community and more than willing to share. His playful teasing, keen and funny observation - all impressively improvised - created a safe space and set the mood for the festival with the claim that truth deserves to be shared, especially when it is funny.
What is truth, you may wonder? You may have heard the expression: It's funny because it's true. Indeed, at a comedy show truth manifests as laughter. Laughter is the affirmation that the audience gives the comedians to let them know that meaning has been created, and an agreement reached. In essence, it is the building of community through shared ideas and values. How perfect then was it that the festival took place at a church, a former school, and a Legion hall? All three places constructed purposefully for that very reason.
There, of course, is such a thing as bad comedy. There is the "comedy" that simply isn't funny, and there is the comedy that purposefully (or not) polarizes instead of broadens. Lucky that sort of comedy was not to be found in Port Credit during the festival. Instead, one found a collection of comedians who made us laugh while weaving a thread through the core of shared human experiences, making a real connection rooted in truths and absurdities. The broad variety of human experiences they shone a light on include but are not limited to: parents and parenting, single and married life, pets and children, accents and national identity, sex and sexuality, yoga and weight loss, house renovations and the beauty of old age.
Over those three nights of comedy, the audience was given a chance to explore who they are and to connect meaningfully to others, not just locally, nationally, and globally but on a deeper human level. This is the power of good comedy, and it was exactly that which was showcased skillfully by the performers at the comedy festival. Kudos to you Mike Bullard, Frank Spadone, Graham Chittenden, Gilson Lubin, Darcy Michael, Erica Sigurdson, Chris Gibbs, and Arthur Simeon.
And so, with the comedy festival at an end, I look forward to next years, and encourage you to make an appearance if you're able. If you're not a fan of comedy, I strongly recommend dabbling - you'll be better for it.