Sunday, 23 August 2015

Heroes of Comedy - Brent Butt

We at Blog Paper H.Q. like a giggle. In a world full of chaos, misery and belly button lint everyone needs a good laugh from time to time.

Since records began* there are one billion and seventy six comedians working in the world today, all of varying quality. It costs a fair few beans these days to go out to see a show of any kind, so you don't want to be disappointed with your choice of evenings entertainment. So Blog Paper is here to point you in the direction of mirth makers who we believe to be the best of the best of the best...sir!** A service we provide free of charge and with no two drink minimum. You're welcome!

As is our want with all our reviews, we don't want to just draw your attention to people you would have already heard of. You have to have lived in a cave to not know all about Billy Connolly and how great he is. You don't need to know how in the simple times of the 80's when jokes could be replaced by a bit of fruity language Eddie Murphy was king of the world. In this post and any that follow, the comedians we profile are hugely popular in their own countries but might not have quite as high profile in others (if they happen to be reading this and I am doing them an injustice  - I apologise). Blog Paper wants to carry the flag for their world wide comedy domination. This time we would like to introduce you to -

Brent Butt

Like all the best things in this world, I discovered the work of Brent Butt by accident. A few months ago I was fiddling around amazon looking to buy a tool to extract a horses hoof from a stone when I came across a DVD of a T.V. show called Corner Gas. As I had never heard of such a show I looked it up and, as it turns out, I had stumbled onto what most in Canada seem to believe is a masterpiece of it's genre.

Without going into vast detail, the show chronicles the day to day life of a sleepy town called Dog River in an unpronouncable (well at least unspellable, that's why I'm avoiding it here) area of Canada and the kooky characters that live therein. So far so every sit-com ever. Corner Gas scores immediately with it's writing and performances. These are great every day characters spouting dialogue from the daft to the incredibly subtle and the whole cast do their material heaps of justice*** It is undeniably one of the best t.v comedies I have seen, and due to a mis-spent youth, I have seen a lot!

Watching Corner Gas lead me to further research it's star and writer Brent Butt.

Born August 3rd, 1966 Brent grew up in Tisdale, Saskatchewan, a small town in the prairies of rural Canada. It was this sleepy town background that would become the premise for Corner Gas and the fictional town of Dog River. He moved to the city at the age of 20 to pursue a career in stand up and quickly became a hit on the club circuit. The road called soon later, his appearances nationally and internationally at clubs and festivals cementing his fast growing reputation as one of the funniest men in Canada.

Fast forward to 24th September 2016, North Vancouver. I was lucky enough to be given, by my very generous family and friends, the opportunity to see a special charity performance by Brent. I was in town on a four day stay, short time considering the distance I had travelled. However, in support of a wonderful charity I was bought for my birthday a V.I.P. ticket to the show which meant a guaranteed meet and greet with my new comedy idol, an opportunity I am sure many would not turn down. There were many other aspects I squeezed into my trip, but no matter what itinerary you add to your Expedia account, how many tourist sites you buy tickets for or how many t-shirts you buy with pictures of a moose on them, when you tell a celebrity that you travelled half way across the world to say hello it is impossible not to come off as something of a stalking nutcase.

A little light entertainment for a good cause!
On the way to the venue I discovered that as a tourist, on your way to meet a personal hero and wanting your look your best, it is wise to check to see if the theater you are visiting isn't half way up a road which is essentially part of a mountainous topography. If it is, take the bus, I walked the relatively short distance from the Seabus dock to the theatre. The camber was a tiny bit on the steep side, almost vertical would be relatively accurate. By the time I got to the box office door I was sweating like a cop in a donut factory. Luckily I was over an hour early and there is a nice breeze coming up the hill from the sea below for me to waft about the place and dry myself off, all classy like. 

Half an hour before the show started I was taken back stage with a number of other patrons to meet Brent. In my years I have been lucky enough to meet more than my fair share of my idols. This was one of only a couple of occasions where I found myself genuinely star struck. In hindsight I think it was probably due to the amount of effort that had to be made to actually get to this legendary meeting of minds. For the previous few months I had been thinking about what to ask, I've already learnt not to try and be funny to a comedian. So a few genuinely interesting questions that also hopefully skipped past tired and rigid ones that had no doubt been asked so many times before were duly stored in the memory banks and practiced through out the day. When the moment came, I shook Mr. Butt by the hand and my brain and mouth decided not to partake in the proceedings and seized up like the rusty chain of an unused bicycle. All I can remember forcing out of my head is "Do you collect comics?" Not exactly Pulitzer prize winning questioning of a burgeoning blog writer. 

Despite my unwitting impression of a serial nut bar Brent was very charming, friendly and softly spoken. I think when you meet a professional mirth maker, it is a fairly obvious mistake to assume they are going to be immediately wacky and larger than life characters. I have found the majority come across more contemplative and quiet. I had a very nice few minutes chatting with Brent as best as my synapses would allow, most of them were to busy buzzing, using their energy to resuscitate the sensible parts of my brain and override my putz circuits. All in all from that moment I could have gone home a very happy little geek.

Brent Butt and his unofficial stunt double (Me)
I shuffled my way to the auditorium and found my seat. Whilst I was sitting there, waiting for the show to begin. I was to wondering what the show would have in store. There is not a huge amount of Mr. Butt's material available out there on the internet. He is not in the habit of recording his shows. There are some clips on You Tube that I recommend you seek out, most look like they have been filmed from the audience with someones Nokia 3310. There also some great highlight clips from festivals and t.v. shows. My favourite being this - some of you will remember the incident involving international renowned hair product Fabio and an unfortunate visit he had to a Theme Park some years ago whilst on a roller coster a goose recognised him and flew over to ask for his autograph...with unfortunate consequences.

I watched this clip over and over and every time I shoot coffee out my nose! Next time I watch it I intend not to be drinking at the same time. I think I have now devoured every clip I can find of Mr Butt's work. A one night marathon viewing had me laughing until a little bit of wee came out. It is well known that this is the international standard scale used to decide how funny someone is which ranges from "Dry as a bone" to "A little bit of wee coming out". So there you are proof positive to Brent Butts talents as I am sure he is the cause of main dots of shame on the front of many pairs over trousers - if not around the world - then certainly around Canada. 

I have seen many stand up shows in my time and only two other people have made me laugh so hard and so consistently like Brent did. 

His style is very laid back and unassuming, covering topics from trying to explain the vastness of Canada to foreigners to proctological examinations and all sorts in between. Just like the humour in Corner Gas there are jokes that range from the subtle to the just plain daft delivered with easy going self assuredness of someone who has honed his craft for over 20 years. All the material is very family friendly, I only heard two mild swears the whole evening. In a comedy world where fruity language is abound, this is quite refreshing.

I have in the past been accused of being a tad embarrassing by my loved ones when in I am watching a comedy show. Certain things set me off laughing harder than other members of the audience. It's usually a nicely framed turn of phrase that gets me laughing so loud the person sitting next to me shoots three feet in the air. This happened many times whilst watching Brents show, he has a fantastic way with words coupled with a nice line in mime and theatrics that tickle the funny bone into submission. 

I really want to try and find something negative to say about the show to give the impression of impartiality. This is after all a review on a fan site for Brent's work and obviously there is going to be certain amount of gushing and possible rose tintedness going on. In my honest opinion I really can't fault him - actually I can - the show ran a little over an hour which I believe is standard on this side of the pond for a headline act. I think in England we are spoiled as most comedy stars on tour will do a minimum of an hour and a half. I would have loved to listened to Mr. Butts stories for a little longer, all night probably. 

So if you get the chance to travel thousands of miles to see Brent Butt do his thang, full tour details are available at his official web site Do it you, will not be disappointed. Take the whole family. If you are going to see him at the Centennial Theater make sure to get the bus  - don't walk it you'll get all out of puff and sweaty.

On a brief note I have tried to bring Brent to the attention of many friends and, when showed a picture of him they assumed they were being shown a picture of my good self! It seems, if I was funny, I could make a great living being a Brent Butt impersonator. Now I admit we are both a pair of handsome devils, but I think the similarity stops at the glasses ...and maybe the fact we are both folically challenged. 

                           Me                                          Brent Butt

* Yesterday about one o'clock
** Blog Paper - random movie references our speciality
*** Heaps of Justice is a great name for a rock band