Well this is my blog so I guess I can be free to express my opinions. Saskatoon's comedy scene has been expanding at a quick rate. I say expanding because I think it's a more applicable word than growing.
The main reason I bring this up as a topic is I'm pleased to announce the first ever Matthew Murray Invitational tournament (MMIT) to take place on Friday, February 8th when I headline Yuk Yuk's at the Parktown hotel.
Tickets - https://www.showpass.com/yuk-yuks-on-tour-presents-matthew-murray-featuring/
I'm going to pull the "in my day" routine at this point. Please start hearing a banjo in the background and tuning out as I do my best Grandpa Simpson impression.
I started in Calgary at a time when that local scene also had a swell of new talent. We were branded the new "Young Guns of Comedy" by Yuk Yuk's. It was competitive, but also collaborative. Many of my best memories of that time include staying up at donut shops and Denny's until four in the morning working out new bits with other comedians. We experimented, we learned, we got better.
We had many stages to play and you could be onstage four to six times a week if you had a car. The goal was to get a little bit better every time you were onstage. To break through to weekend guest spots at the club, the Wednesday roster, and eventually the main roster.
When I moved to Saskatoon I had to add to my game, but it was much less my onstage content and style, and more my Hustle. It was just as much work to get a gig as it was to do a gig. With far fewer options and agents the focus turned to networking, marketing, sales and phone calls. This came to a head recently when I did the New Years' Eve show in conjunction with the German Club.
This one had MY name on the sign. I picked the show, took a share of the ticket rather than a fee, and promoted as hard as I could. When the doors opened I sat there for a moment and took in the situation. Great ticket sales, a beautiful hall, a good lineup and a happy venue. Then I realized holy shit I had to go on stage that night and actually DO THE SHOW.
So out here in Saskatoon the new comedy crowd are developing two sets of skills at the same time - the Hustle and the onstage. I enjoy watching all of them progress, and go through the same stages my generation did. The 'why did he/she get that instead of me?' phase. The 'I think I have 30 minutes when I really have 10' stage. The cliques, the drama, the gossip and the backstabbing. All part and parcel with growing up in stand up. We even have the resident crazy guy, the one absolutely nobody likes but he just keeps showing up like a mole you get removed over and over. We had one (or several) in Calgary as well, they're just part of the scene as much as the cheap beer is.
But if there is one thing I'd like to say to the young comedy community of Saskatoon as they approach adolescence in the industry - at the end of the day, you have to make them laugh. You can have your take or angle, you can decide for yourself if you want to be disgusting, or super clean, PC or not. You can do voices, songs, impressions, improv, scenes, anything. But they have to make the people laugh. Being consistently solid onstage is the single fastest ticket up the ladder. Yes some people get a leg up for being 'buddies', some people get ahead on looks or who they know, but all those minor advantages even out in the long run, and the people left standing in this business 20+ years are the ones that focus on laughs per minute, creation of material, timing, and delivery.
So keep opening up more stages, make a few bucks with tours, all of that stuff makes comedy a visible viable alternative in the local entertainment scene. But don't do the Hustle at the cost of the onstage product. Not yet. Get the stage stuff sorted out now, get to festivals while you're still young and fresh and attractive for TV. Make every single minute onstage count, and put in the work to get better. Get FUNNY.
I'm here to help.