Tragedy Plus Time Volume 6 – Erica Sigurdson

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“Comedy is tragedy plus time.”
It’s been said many times by many comedians. I believe the original usage dates back to the great Carol Burnett. It’s a quote I have borrowed from to title this column about the wonderful talent in the comedy community right here in Vancouver.

Since I’ve lived in Vancouver, I’ve heard a lot of people say that they had a bad experience at a comedy show and never went back. This is as ridiculous as swearing off restaurants as a whole because of one case of food poisoning. It’s my hope, that the profiles here will bring back those who have turned away or open the door for those who have never seen live comedy.

Finally, for those out there that don’t like to laugh, they might be best served by a quote from another lady of show business, Julia Roberts:
“Show me a person who doesn’t like to laugh and I’ll show you a person with a toe tag.”

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You know Erica Sigurdson. Even if you don’t know Erica Sigurdson, you feel like you know her. She is the funniest person in your office. She’s your favorite aunt.  She’s the person you want to be around when you catch the gossip of the day.

I count myself as lucky enough to know Erica both on stage and off.  Her onstage persona is a fraction of the hilarious person who constantly observes and relates her reactions to the absurdities she sees all around her. She’s not someone who’s always on, but she is always funny.

Her act is almost like a dialogue with the audience, garnering choruses of “it’s so true” while she runs through topics ranging from dating and engagements to reminiscing about how parents buying organic food for children today would be horrified by parents of yesteryear who used to bake coins into birthday cakes.

Erica has been one of Canada’s top comics for a while now. She has been to every comedy festival this country has to offer, appeared as a super regular on CBC’s The Debaters, performed for Canadian troops in Afghanistan, co-hosted a daily talk show and is seemingly always involved with donating her comedy skills to various charities.

In the past Sigurdson’s been referred to as a “sugar coated razor blade”. I assume the name is in reference to the fact that her sharp and biting punchlines are always delivered with just a pinch of sweetness. I wouldn’t disagree with that name, but I prefer to be specific about the ratio. To me, Erica is 10 parts sugar to every 1part razor blade.

When speaking of ratios in relation to Erica, it’s worth mentioning that she strikes a nearly 50/50 ratio when it comes to how much she makes people laugh versus how much she enjoys laughter. There is nothing quite as fun as seeing a polished comedy performer lapse into an uncontrollable giggle fit and it’s just one of many things I have been lucky enough to be a part of just by knowing Erica Sigurdson.

If you want to find out more about Erica, you can go to ericasigurdson.com

Erica took some time out from laugh making to answer some questions for Vancouver Is Awesome.

When was the last time you laughed until you cried?

I think it was telling you and Dave my ‘overheard’ for the podcast, (Stop Podcasting Yourself episode 117) or any other time I tell that story.

What is your dream comedy venue?

I think any theatre is a dream venue.  There’s so many awful venues I’ve performed in, sometimes just walking into a place with good lighting and a sound system feels a gift.

Why do you think, on average, there are less women in stand up than men?

I think the last hundred years have seen a lot of changes in women’s roles, in the home, work place and society.  Now that there are more opportunities open for women, the scales are more balanced, but starting with higher paid jobs like medicine, because it pays more.  So maybe there are less women in comedy because  we’re smarter??  I’d be lying if I didn’t admit some months when I was trying to figure out rent I didn’t think – I should have gone to Devry.

Are there things that a woman can do on a comedy stage that men cannot?

Nope.  Maybe wear heels but that’s it.

What is one myth about stand up comedy you’d like to dispel?

That comics are sitting at the bar after a show, hoping someone will swing buy and tell us a street joke.   Comics don’t typically tell anything close to street jokes and yet there is always one person that wants to tell you an awful, racist joke and then tell you can use it.

Why is Vancouver a good place for comedy?

Vancouver is my control group, because I’ve never lived anywhere else and done comedy.  In my mind, everywhere else is measured against my experiences here.  I think the lack of any major comedy brand controlling comics has been very good for the scene.  We have such a diverse comedy community, comics that aren’t afraid to take a chance on stage because you don’t have this entity judging you and constantly pitting comics against each other for work.  I think in general Vancouver comics are very willing to help others, not just with comedy but hooking each other up with gigs.

Who is one performer/group of performers you think everyone should see at least once?

Jim Gaffigan

Every article about comedy has to have a pun in the title. What would you like yours to be?

If I were American, I would have had a one woman show called I, AM-ERICA  – which isn’t really a pun but puns are nearly impossible to think of if you’re trying.  That’s what makes them so awful is they just fly out.

Where would you like to be in comedy a decade from now?

Hollywood Squares – center square.  If that doesn’t pan out I would like to have sold a delightful script to Hollywood, written a book, hosted my own late night talk show which unfortunately failed because of the politics of Canadian television and then finally just decided to ghost write Lindsay Lohan’s autobiography, called “The Last Straw”

What is a comedic premise you think needs to be retired?

I don’t think any premise should ever be retired.  I mean, who am I to deprive future generations from Arnold Schwarzenegger  impressions?

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