PEI

'If you book it, they will come': Island comic puts on stand-up show

Charlottetown isn’t exactly known as a hotbed for stand-up comedy, but one Island comic is hoping to change that.

'We really want to see more stand-up happening in the city, so we started collaborating'

Island comic Justin Shaw, who now lives in Montreal, is organizing a night of stand-up at Baba's Lounge on July 10. (Angela Walker/CBC)

Charlottetown isn't exactly known as a hotbed for stand-up comedy, but one Island comic is hoping to change that.

Justin Shaw, who now lives in Montreal but is spending the summer on P.E.I., is organizing a show at Baba's Lounge with several other local comics.

The germ of the idea started during a conversation with local comic Brittany Campbell.

"We really want to see more stand-up happening in the city, so we started collaborating, reaching out to different venues … and we said, 'Let's see if we can just start booking shows,'" Shaw told Mainstreet P.E.I. host Angela Walker.

"It was kind of a Field of Dreams mentality of if you book it, they will come."

A range of comedy

The show features Shaw and Campbell, along with Olivia Barnes, Benton Hartley and Heather Jordan Ross. It's being hosted by Sam MacDonald.

"There's a pretty interesting range, because of the different comedians involved," Shaw said.

Is there something weird about my perspective that I can see this and maybe find something funny and, God willing, share it with the world and hopefully they find it funny too?- Justin Shaw

"Not to say some people specifically work blue, so to speak, but it is a different range. Some leans toward the mature subject matter — viewer discretion is advised — sort of an area, but for myself … I'm really interested in the idea of all ages comedy."

Shaw says his approach is trying to find the punch line in the commonplace.

"Is there something weird about my perspective that I can see this and maybe find something funny and, God willing, share it with the world and hopefully they find it funny too?" he said.

"Easier said than done … but that's the kind of comedy I like to do."

'The energy flows'

Shaw is in Montreal studying at the National Theatre School of Canada's acting program.

He has a history of performing on the Island in sketch comedy and even as a Father of Confederation.

But still, he says every show is a little bit terrifying.

The moment maybe where you find a nerve and you get them laughing, that is the best feeling — it's like the sweet spot.- Justin Shaw

"It's the excitement of being really alive and present in front of a group of people with the goal of making them laugh," he said. "The energy flows."

Plus, he says, stand-up comedy allows for immediate audience feedback.

"You can tell right away, like, 'Did that work? Well, they're not just quietly pondering over the joke. So maybe that joke didn't work,'" Shaw said.

"But the moment maybe where you find a nerve and you get them laughing, that is the best feeling — it's like the sweet spot."

The show features a handful of local comics. (Robert Bejil/Flickr)

$5 admission

Shaw aims to eventually perform at least once in every Canadian province — making it to the territories would be an added bonus, he said.

If the Baba's Lounge show is a success, Shaw hopes to put on more stand-up shows on P.E.I. through the summer.

The show is at Baba's Lounge at 9 p.m. on July 10. Admission is $5.

With files from Mainstreet P.E.I.

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