Winnipeg Comedy Festival's yuks getting drowned out by roar of Jets fans

The Winnipeg Jets' playoff run is no laughing matter for the Winnipeg Comedy Festival, which began Monday, and is feeling a pinch from the city's single-minded pursuit of the Stanley Cup.

Ticket sales down 15% as Stanley Cup fever grips downtown

Ticket sales for the festival are down about 15 per cent from last year, according to executive director Nick Kowalchuk. (CBC)

The Winnipeg Jets' playoff run is no laughing matter for the Winnipeg Comedy Festival, which began Monday and is feeling a pinch from the city's single-minded pursuit of the Stanley Cup. 

Ticket sales for the festival are down about 15 per cent from last year, according to executive director Nick Kowalchuk. 

"It does alter the ticket sales," he said. "It's entertainment dollars, right? When you're looking at these entertainment dollars, it's either going to sports or it's going to the arts or other different culture. It's always hard, and we can never compete." 

The unpredictability of the playoffs meant they couldn't plan ahead, which is causing additional strain, he said. 

"It's fabulous! It's exciting! But I was glad I didn't have to drive down Portage at 6 o'clock," he said. "But we had to get comics through that." 

"It's super exciting, but it's hard to work around," Kowalchuk said, noting there was no way to control or predict which shows it would affect.

Friday night's big Comedy Fest gala at the Pantages Theatre is on at the same time as the game and whiteout party.

Even though it is on the other side of the downtown from the game, he is advising people to leave early because parking will be at a premium.

Kowalchuk noticed ticket sales start to slip as the Jets playoff prospects became more solid in March.

A few shows have sold out, though shows on game night are tougher sells. 

"You've got to plug through and there are people that are still supporting us and still coming out and still buying tickets," he said. "There are people who want to come out and support us as much as they can." 

It just as easily could have been a snowstorm that caused the whiteout, Kowalchuk says, adding that not every year can be a record year for attendance. 

As for how much longer downtown will be in the throes of Jets fever, Kowalchuk bets it won't let up any time soon. 

"I wouldn't be surprised if they make it all the way."