Reason #85 of '101 Reasons Why I Heart Edmonton'

The Funny People

By Emil Tiedemann

When you live in a city with a longish winter and seemingly excessive construction in the summer, you almost have to develop a sense of humour, or you might just implode one day. And if that’s the worst of it, we’ve got it pretty damn good. 

Perhaps because of that, there are a lot of pretty funny folks here in Edmonton making us pee ourselves laughing, whether it’s at one of the comedy clubs or via a basement podcast or even some potty-mouthed Twitter account. We like to laugh, we like to make others laugh, and we don’t mind poking fun at ourselves from time to time. Most of all, we love stickin’ it to those damn Calgarians! Just kidding...ish. 

The 'Vulgar Comedy Show' at The Hydeaway venue in downtown Edmonton.

But, I digress. Some locals might say our comedy legacy dates back to around 1980, when Second City Television (SCTV) relocated from Ontario to Edmonton’s Allarcom-ITV studios, bringing along future legends like Dave Thomas, Rick Moranis, Robin Duke, and Tony Rosato

In the late-’80s and early-’90s, there were Three Dead Trolls in a Baggie, a local comedy troupe, sort of our answer to The Kids in the Hall. They formed as Joe Bird, Wes Borg, Paul Mather, and Cathleen Rootsaert (& later Neil Grahn and Dana Andersen) in 1987, and produced their own songs, Fringe shows, and even a short-lived CBC series. 

Rapid Fire Theatre is another great example of Edmonton’s comedic capabilities, testing our bladder control at every one of their late night improv performances (Theatresports and CHiMPROV), originally held in downtown’s now-defunct Phoenix Theatre, then at the Varscona in Old Strathcona, and now at downtown’s Citadel Theatre

Mayor Don Iveson participating in a segment with Rapid Fire Theatre.

The company originated here in Edmonton back in 1981, though as part of the Theatre Network before becoming their own theatre company in 1988. Some of Edmonton’s funniest people have gone through Rapid Fire (and their various annual festivals), and others found their niche at our annual International Fringe Theatre Festival, like Hollywood star Nathan Fillion (Castle, Firefly). 

Or maybe they got their start more recently at the Edmonton Comedy Festival, a four-day stand-up event featuring comics from across North America. Some of Alberta’s funniest folks have found their way to Edmonton’s own sketch comedy TV series, Caution: May Contain Nuts (APTN), including Sheldon Elter, Howie Miller, Aimee Beaudoin, and Ryan Parker

And all over online there are locals who are stroking our funny bones, from podcasts (The Quik and Slow Comedy Show, One Word, Go! Show) and blogs (Tiny Plastic Men, Ryan Byrne) to Tweeters (@Matt_Mellon, @kellysoloduka) and even YouTube clips (“Sh*t Edmontonians Say”). 

 

And we can’t forget some of Edmonton’s homegrown stars that went on to make people laugh around the world, such as Michael J. Fox (Family Ties), Tommy Chong (of Cheech & Chong), and Bruce McCulloch (of The Kids in the Hall). 

There’s no denying it, we’re a funny people, and we’re only getting funnier, making sure we’re able to laugh our way through the worst of the snow storms and traffic jams Edmonton can toss our way from time to time. #yegisfunny

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