Comedians look for laughs in Goderich tomorrow night

Lawyer and comedian Scott Cowan.

Lawyer and comedian Scott Cowan.

HEATHER BOA Bullet News GODERICH – After delivering the same standup comedy act about 80 times, Scott Cowan figures he has crafted 10 minutes of material that makes people laugh.

That’s because the art of making audiences laugh is deceptively hard, said Cowan, a defence lawyer who’s been honing his standup comedy skills at Toronto venues and stages across the country. Under his stage name Jay Scott, he will host Comedy at the Grill in Goderich tomorrow night, with opening act Todd Van Allen and headliner Jackie Kashian.

Kashian has been touring for 15 years, and hosts a half-hour special on Comedy Central. In her weekly podcast, The Dork Forest, she interviews people about their obsessions. This past week, she was featured in the Toronto Star. To read the article, click here. To listen to a sample of her comedy act, visit her website.

Todd Van Allen has done the club circuit and performed at festivals around the world. He hosts podcast Comedy Above the Pub.

“Comedians make it look very easy because they speak similar to the way most of us do. It’s conversational. But to make it very good those words, and syllables and enunciations have been refined,” Cowan said. As a self-professed novice, he is in awe of great comedians like George Carlin, Bill Cosby, Jim Carrey and Jerry Seinfeld, who learned tricks like the number nine gets more laughs than the number 10 and words with hard consonants like “cupcake” and a certain four-letter word gets more laughs than words with soft consonants like “honey.” And yet the great comedians can say things that aren’t funny at all and make an audience laugh because it knows the funny stuff is coming.

“Just like how you could play six random notes on a guitar and they sound terrible, you play them a bunch of times and they sound right together and you have a million-dollar single,” he said. “When you figure it out, it’s quite rewarding but it’s also very daunting to realize how long it’s taken you to figure that out.”

He said true standup comedy is about telling jokes about what he thinks is funny; mixing interesting thought, points of hypocrisy and things that matter to him. At the same time, his act delivers a weighty message of abuse of powers and misplaced fear.

He is following in the footsteps of comedians Bill Hicks, Rick Mercer and Greg Giraldo, who spoke about social justice.

However, his material is also shaped for the audience. Locally, he delivers knee-slapping humour that feeds on the rivalry between towns and pokes fun at Huron County on such topics as the tornado.

“People love the local stuff. They will give me everything. If I make a joke about Clinton, it will not fail,” he said.

Cowan wants comedy to be part of a vibrant arts scene that he hopes will emerge in the tornado rebuild. That’s why he’s funded shows at the Goderich Grill and Boston Pizza and elsewhere, hoping proceeds from ticket sales will be enough to cover his costs. He would like to mount a comedy festival, in which the audiences move between local restaurants and pubs to catch comedy acts.

Comedy at the Grill takes place Saturday, Jan. 19 at Goderich Grill on the Square in Goderich. Show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets, $20, available at Goderich Grill or online. Tickets at the door are $25.

Written by on January 18, 2013 in Entertainment and Arts, Goderich - No comments

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About the Author

Heather has spent most of her career in local journalism and communications. She moved to Huron County more than two decades ago to join the newsroom at the Goderich Signal-Star, reporting local council and community news. Since then, she had been editor at the Walkerton Herald Times, city editor at the award-winning Observer in Sarnia, and freelance writer for the Hamilton Spectator and the London Free Press. She developed a local network with local government and businesses while working for Heritage and Cultural Partnership. She also worked with municipal and provincial governments in her role as communications manager for a wind energy development company. She has been active in the local community, most recently volunteering time to Habitat for Humanity Huron County. Heather graduated from Ryerson with a Bachelor of Applied Arts, Journalism.