P.K. Subban's standup comedy debuts next week on CBC

The Montreal crowd is chanting: "P.K.! P.K.! P.K.!" Only P.K. Subban is not on the ice wearing a Canadiens sweater, nor even part of the Original Six franchise any longer. He's in front of a sea of loyal fans on this day, not as a star hockey player, but a first-time standup comedian.

Ex-Habs defenceman 'pokes fun' at Canadiens brass

P.K. Subban's comedy show generated $150,000 for the Montreal Children's Hospital Foundation. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

The Montreal crowd is chanting: "P.K.! P.K.! P.K.!"

Only P.K. Subban is not on the ice wearing a Montreal Canadiens sweater, nor even part of the Original Six franchise any longer. It's the first day of August and Subban is back in Montreal, about a month after the shocking trade that sent him to Nashville for fellow all-star defenceman Shea Weber.

He's in front of a sea of loyal fans on this day, not as a star hockey player, but as a first-time standup comedian. The crowd stands and applauds to open the P.K. Subban: Shots Fired special, which airs Monday on CBC, before Subban finally gets around to "the elephant in the room."

He pauses and then delivers the punch line: "I went to Europe this summer."

Lighthearted digs at the Canadiens, specifically head coach Michel Therrien, general manager Marc Bergevin and even the Molson family, do indeed follow over the hour-long special. Subban said he simply wanted to "poke fun" at the rumours and endless chatter regarding his sometimes polarizing and yet largely successful run in Montreal.

"I think that there's been so much made of the whole trade, I just wanted to make light of the situation because the reality is it's just business," Subban told the Canadian Press in a recent interview. "But we can still laugh and giggle and have fun with some of the stories and rumours that have gone on, poke fun at it and then get people to pay some money and donate it to my charity."

Nothing was off-limits

Subban got help writing the jokes from Pat Dussault of "Just For Laughs," but nothing evidently was off-limits. In good humour, the former Norris Trophy-winning defenceman takes aim at Therrien's system, the Habs' consternation over his flashy ways, and even the Molson-family beer.

During one sketch Subban is confronted by images of Therrien and Bergevin while a voice chuckles and says "Respect the system, no celebration, no fun P.K."

The former Canadiens defenceman came back to Montreal to host a comedy gala that raised funds for charity. 1:03

Subban, who may face the Canadiens for the first time next Tuesday in Nashville (he's currently sidelined by injury), said "we wanted to make sure that everybody knew how much I loved the Montreal Canadiens organization, the city, and my coaches and GMs, and everybody that has been my boss or helped me along the way, just showing them the utmost respect.

"I think that anybody watching that would get a kick out of it. I think it's pretty funny."

Subban just being himself

It's perhaps fitting that Subban opted to take the stage so soon after the trade while Weber, a quieter sort, waited weeks before finally arriving in Montreal for the first time. Others might have considered rescheduling the show or putting it off altogether in light of the intense debate the trade caused. But for the outgoing Subban that was never the case.

P.K. Subban adapts to local culture in Hamilton, Ontario. Watch the P.K. Subban: Shots Fired Just for Laughs gala on January 2nd at 9pm (9:30NT) on CBC. 0:32

In his mind the (perhaps) one-time chance to jump on a stage and toss out some jokes was too good to pass up and where better to do it than Montreal where he was a beloved figure for six seasons. He knew he'd have support from the crowd, some of whom were decked out in Canadiens jerseys, including a fan in the front row.

Subban, who wore a mauve three-piece suit himself, got a little teary-eyed off the top when the audience offered a long standing ovation, but he settled down once he got into the comic routine.

His timing in that sense was surprisingly on point.

Subban didn't rehearse his routine — which is interspersed with bits from other comedians — until the day of the show. He sought general advice from other comics, but mostly tried to be himself. Those who know him well, Subban says, would describe him as a natural jokester.

A different spotlight

He could see how difficult it was, however, to try to make people laugh under the bright lights.

"Remember, I did it in a city where everybody knows me, where I played hockey and everybody there was a hockey fan," Subban said. "They go to cities where maybe some people aren't as familiar with them where they have to kind of earn the respect of the room and that's really tough."

"I just wanted to have fun with it," Subban added. "I wanted to be myself within the structure that they gave me. But I also didn't want to embarrass myself."

He was especially pleased to raise more money for charity. The event generated $150,000 for the Montreal Children's Hospital Foundation, according to a representative from the CBC. Subban notably donated $10 million to the hospital more than a year ago.

CBC reporter Doug Gelevan talks to P.K. Subban about the trade, the Just for Laughs gala and what's next. 0:46

"How many guys can say they've hosted a comedy gala or comedy show?" Subban concluded. "That's not an easy thing to do and I'm pretty excited about it, pretty happy about it."


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