Comedy

Never really a class clown: Meet Chris Robinson

You may have seen him featured in CBC Comedy’s Next Up web series, or in The Amazing Gayl Pile digital original series, and now’s your chance to get to know comedian Chris Robinson.

You may have seen him featured in CBC Comedy's Next Up web series, or in The Amazing Gayl Pile digital original series, and now's your chance to get to know comedian Chris Robinson. 

Known as "Canada's nicest nasty comic," Robinson has released his debut album, Gut Bussa Vol. 1, from Macaw Studios, and it is definitely NSFW… Robinson tackles everything from racial slurs to becoming a dad, while also dropping into some pretty blue subjects.

Here, he tells us a bit about his journey, and how comedy can support in this challenging time.

"I grew up in Brampton, Ontario. I was the youngest of four and usually the comic relief in our household. I was never really a class clown. The class clowns always annoyed me to be honest.

"I would crack jokes with my friends or people close to me if it was in class. If I was going for a laugh for the entire class I didn't force the jokes, I would wait for the jokes to come to me. But in drama class I would usually go off and use that as my outlet to perform and be funny.

"When I was 14, I listened to Dave Chappelle's special Killin' Them Softly and as soon as it finished I decided that I had to do comedy. I wanted to spread that same joy that I was feeling from the special to the world. I believed in myself that my comedic mind could take me on the path I wanted to go.

"I always wanted [standup] to be my career, and slowly over time I started getting better and better and more booked and paid gigs. But I didn't sign with any comedy clubs for a long time, so I never felt like a professional. It's hard to view yourself as a pro when the majority of your shows are in the back of bars and weed lounges. It wasn't until I won Sirius XM Top Comic that I actually started viewing myself as a pro comic.

"Getting $25k for an eight-minute set in a packed theatre is hard to beat. Like I mentioned… I never felt like a pro, so winning gave me a huge confidence boost and I felt vindicated for the lack of love that I was getting beforehand. 

"My worst on-stage experience was at The Punchline in Atlanta. I was just in town for a few days and luckily got a hosting gig at the club. I was feeling myself cause I did a set the night before and bodied it at another club, The Laughing Skull. It was my first club gig in the U.S. so I was nervous and boy did I eat it. I was forgetting punchlines, whole sections of jokes, doing full act outs to silence. 

"Nothing is worse than acting out a full scene to a quiet audience. It was like I was doing a dramatic monologue. I was supposed to do 15 off the top and got the light at seven minutes. Then I messed up the first comic's name as I brought him on stage. I wanted to leave and go home but nope, I was hosting, so I had to go back up three more times to an audience that hated me. I legit felt bad accepting the cheque from the booker. 

"She tried to be nice saying 'You kind of got them in the end.' I had to keep it real and said 'That's very nice but we both know that was horrible. I'm sorry.' Then I went and sat in my car alone in the parking lot until my girlfriend's friend came out and gave me a pep talk. 

"I had to take a two-week break from comedy after that just to reevaluate my life.

"My comedy heroes are Dave Chappelle, Patrice O'Neal, Richard Pryor, Dane Cook. All of those guys are legends in my eyes and their comedy has always helped get me through tough times. They are huge inspirations for me along with comics like Dave Merheje, Brian Regan and Roy Wood Jr. 

"Comedians have historically been known as the truth tellers in tough times. There are tons of comedians out there who have very insightful and intelligent jokes about black life and struggle in our modern world, while also making it hilarious so it doesn't feel like a lecture. Comics like Chappelle, Michael Che and Wood Jr. do that perfectly.

"Comedy is great to take a break. After staring at your phone and news all day of riots and protesting and constant brutality, it's nice to pause the problems for a few minutes or an hour and just laugh. 

"A good hard laugh can really help cleanse your palette of all the bad things going on in the world. I think it is important that we face all of the troubles that are being highlighted right now, but it is also important to not get burned out to a point that you want to ignore it altogether. I think comedy can help provide mental nourishment to keep pushing, learning and fighting."

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