'I sometimes have to pinch myself': Get to know comedian Paul Rabliauskas
A member of the Poplar River First Nation, Paul Rabliauskas brings a fresh and energetic approach to his standup performances.
Rabliauskas is one of the featured comedians in the CBC Gem special The New Wave of Standup and is available to watch online here.
We invited Rabliauskas to take our questionnaire, and here's what he had to say!
1. Where do you come from, and what were you like growing up?
I come from Poplar River First Nation, but was raised in Winnipeg. I was a funny kid but also very shy and scared of absolutely everything.
2. What kind of first impression do you hope to make on audiences when you step on stage?
I hope to make a good impression; energy is huge in comedy. I hope it's a fair exchange between myself and the audience, and when it's over we both feel happier than we did before I made my way up on stage.
3. When did you first know you wanted to do comedy? When did you decide it was a career?
It was in my early 20s. I always knew I was funny and was obsessed with comedy, so hitting up my first open mic felt real right.
4. What was the greatest moment you've experienced on stage? How about the worst?
We had basically only one open mic in Winnipeg because the scene was very new, every Sunday at the Cavern. The shows were standing room only and a handful of those shows were my favourite. The atmosphere made those shows great.
My worst experience came in a little town in Saskatchewan. I was on the road with some amazing comics, but the crowd did not want anything to do with us.
5. Who are your comedy heroes? Who do you look to for inspiration?
Charlie Hill, hands down, is my number one comedic hero. The way he broke down barriers for First Nation comics is profound. Non-Native comics I definitely looked up to: Patrice O'Neal and Dave Chappelle.
I'm lucky to have a collective of very strong Indigenous women in my life. They're teachers, mothers and warriors and have shaped who I am today.
6. What other fellow comics should Canadians know about?
Man, Winnipeg has an incredible young pool of amazing comics and so does the Native scene. Mike Green, Jordan Welwood, Ashley Burdette, Spence Adamus, Andy Noble, Benjamin Walker, Florence Spence, Chad Anderson, Dana Smith, Tatanka Means, Benji Rothman, Matt Nightingale and Tim Gray just to name a few.
Also, there's a handful of comics in Toronto who have always looked out for me and I also think they're amazing: Garrett Jamison, Pat Burtscher, Pat Thornton and the great Kenny Robinson. It's strange because Poplar River is so far and isolated from the world and I get to call these comics on my list friends. I sometimes have to pinch myself.