Volume 93, Issue 41

Thursday, November 11, 1999


Comedian living the high life

Building a Shakey base

Kilt pulling threads from Celtic music fabric

Marcy Playground stuck on see-saw

Comedian living the high life

Gazette file photo
"BUT, YOU DON'T HAVE DANDRUFF." "EXACTLY." Swinging comedian Harry Doupe brings his flake-free routine to the Grand Theatre on Sunday.

By Michael Murphy
Gazette Staff

Know how to make people laugh? If so, put together a stand up act and start working your way up through the ranks of the live comedy industry.

With any luck, a few years from now you'll be relaxing at the Playboy mansion, knocking back martinis with Hugh Hefner. Skeptical? Then you haven't met Canadian comic Harry Doupe.

Doupe, a Toronto-based funny-man, is beginning to make a name for himself in the chuckle business. He has appeared on the television shows Comics! and Comics On the Road and he has also performed at the Tragically Hip's "Another Roadside Attraction" summer festival. More recently, he toured with professional zaniac Weird Al Yankovic. Perhaps most impressive of all though, Doupe's fame lately earned him an invitation to party at "Hef's harem," the legendary Playboy mansion.

"You know, I thought to myself, if I go up and punch Hugh Hefner in the face right now, I'll be on the front page of every newspaper in the country tomorrow," he says. Luckily, Doupe chose to play pacifist, not publicist, and kept his haymakers to himself. "I'm no press hog," he quips.

As for his standup sensibility, Doupe explains his brand of humour is not of the observational, Seinfeld-esque ilk. "I'm more of a commentator than an observer. I look at things from the inside more than the outside," he comments.

So, what makes a professional comedian like Doupe snicker? Apparently, just about anything. "I laugh at everything," he states. "If I was out in the middle of nowhere, on a 40 [degree] below day, with my keys locked in my car, I would probably laugh about it. I laugh at the futility of things."

Not just a performer, Doupe is also a comedy writer and has penned jokes for the Junos, Geminis, Genies and NHL award shows. He says writing supplements his standup career nicely and is a welcome addition to his portfolio. "I like them together. I like writing because it pays better. I've heard that some people can be more creative when they're hungry, but that hasn't been my experience. I find I work better knowing that there's going to be a roof over my head," he jokingly affirms.

Despite his wide and varied experience splittin' sides and bustin' guts, Doupe still can't tell exactly why some jokes work and others don't. "That's the wonder and the mystery of comedy," he asserts. "That you never know whether an audience is going to laugh at a certain bit. I can look at something and see that, yeah, it works about 19 times out of 20, but you never really know for sure. The audience really is the ultimate judge of whether something's funny."

A London audience will get to judge for themselves Sunday, when Doupe will open for fellow comedian Ron James at the Grand Theatre. According to Doupe, playing at the theatre will be a bit of a dream come true for him. "Well, I haven't performed in London for about five years now. I'm very excited because the Grand Theatre is a venue I've always really liked, but I haven't done a show there yet. I was really excited when I saw the touring schedule and saw that we'd be playing the Grand. I was rubbing my hands with glee, literally," he relates.

Having risen from amateur nights in little clubs to boogie nights at the Playboy mansion, he is, not surprisingly, quite pleased with the current state of his comic career. "Things are going very well right now. I just want to keep writing, performing, doing more of the same," Doupe concludes.

Of course, when your tour itinerary includes jaunts with Hugh Hefner, why would you want to do anything different?

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Copyright The Gazette 1999