Volume 93, Issue 80
Thursday, March 2, 2000
|ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
Local grad making good comedy
©Gazette file photo
By Luke Rundle
One need not worry that Kitchener comic Wade McElwain will ever lose touch with his audience. Though he professes he never really stops learning about ways to better his craft, he does seem to have a handle on what comedy fans in Canada find funny.
"I like to talk as much as I can intellectually, but I also do jokes that the crowd likes to hear," McElwain explains. "They like to hear about drinking, they like to hear drugs and they love to hear about fuckin'!"
Born and raised in Kitchener-Waterloo, the 26 year-old comic graduated from Western in 1995 with a bachelor of arts in history, and even contributed comics to The Gazette. "I used to work at Joe Kool's and DJ'd at Jim Bob Ray's," McElwain recalls. "Then I got into comedy in '96 and in '97 I won the Funniest New Canadian competition in Toronto."
His fast track to success relentlessly continued, stopping briefly for an hour-long CTV Comedy Now special, guest appearances on Open Mike With Mike Bullard, as well as an award for the Funniest Homegrown Comic competition at Montréal's prestigious Just For Laughs comedy festival.
Currently, McElwain's big project is a new series for The Comedy Network called Gutterball Alley, in which he wears the hats of producer, writer and star. Of course, it's a mixture of seemingly incompatible premises which somehow combine to make a unique product much like the first time the peanut butter, honey and banana sandwich made an appearance.
"You remember [the 1980's Canadian game show] Bowling For Dollars? It's something like that, bringing up four real bowlers per show who bowl for cash," he begins. "But within that real part of the game show setup, we weave in a talk show format where I'm the host behind a desk and another comic friend of mine, Johnny Gardhouse, is the co-host.
"We've got a banjo player as our house band, we have dancing girls and a rabid audience. It's a sketch/sitcom. Sketch, in that it has quick little hits of funny stuff, but a sitcom in the idea that the bowling alley has recurring characters that we've created," he explains. McElwain says this curious blend of fiction and reality has already been picked up for 16 episodes and is expected to air sometime this summer.
For those who have never been to a live stand-up show, McElwain strongly urges you to make him the one to pluck your comedy flower. "It's gonna be fucking hilarious. You really have to go and see stand-up comedy. I think we've allowed ourselves to get so lazy and complacent in society that we only want that quick fix of pleasure," McElwain sermonizes.
"Comedy is hypnotism and you really have to allow yourself to be hypnotized by a comic, to sit in and really get inside the person's head, enjoy, laugh and get together as an audience. You start to see other people laughing around you and you think 'Them laugh, me can laugh too. Laugh good. Me feel good when laugh.'"
Copyright © The Gazette 2000