|“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.
Everyone gets songs stuck in their head. Sometimes all it takes is the mere mention of the name of the song and you’re done for.
I actually enjoy it when a funny song gets stuck in my head. For a good chunk of 2008, Flight of the Concords “Ladies of the World” proved to be an immovable object.
After several Saturday nights, “What’s up with that?” burrows deep for the rest of the week.
I believe an all time record for song-stuck-in-headness occurred the first time I heard Craig Anderson play his hilarious ode to holidays, “Christmas with the Andersons”.
It wouldn’t be the last time that Craig would make an impression around the holidays. Last year saw Craig taking an almost dramatic turn as the radio host Dave in the Leo nominated online series Mental Beast. His acting, like his work in comedy is seemingly effortless, almost annoyingly effortless.
This was a production that was made in cooperation with the fantastic Bronx Cheer, a sketch duo Anderson formed with Conor Hollor. Bronx Cheer was the force behind the Hero Show, the “you-can-do-any-solo-comedy-act-on-stage-that-isn’t-stand up” show, at which you could see a guy like Craig sing a song like “Christmas with the Andersons.”
See, the song is stuck in my head again.
If you haven’t seen Anderson in any of these capacities, you will have more opportunities now than ever to see him work. Besides reoccurring work on television and his participation in the Vancouver International Improv Festival he has officially become a member of the funniest group in town, The Sunday Service.
A few weeks ago, I heard a rumor that Craig was leaving town, he has since assured me that this isn’t true. This is a relief, knowing that Craig’s unique sense of humor will be around for a while yet. Besides, I need a new song.
If you want to know more you can go to:
Craig was kind enough to answer some questions for Vancouver Is Awesome.
When was the last time you laughed until you cried?
On Saturday, right before a show, when Ryan Beil did his impression of Commander Sisco from deep space 9 backstage. “Jake, don’t you like baseball?”
What would be your idea of a perfect venue?
A zip-line/flying fox from the back of the house to the stage, a ceiling that opened like Skydome so I could lower myself onto the stage from a helicopter to start the show, tiny doors all along the walls controlled by a button on stage so I could release a bunch of cats into the audience. Also, lots of hot tubs.
What was the primary motivation behind the creation of the Hero Show?
Conor Holler and I had done some shows in Toronto and New York and were really inspired by the scenes there. We knew what kind of comedy we wanted to do, but there wasn’t an outlet for it in Vancouver at the time, so we started one. The idea behind the hero show , and behind Bronx Cheer in general, was to consistently produce a show that was hilarious, cheap, and short, like a lot of shows in New York. I should add that the format of the Hero Show is lifted from The Loner Show in Toronto, hosted by the very funny Brian Barlow. It’s just a great format, and we wanted to do it here.
What is one myth about live comedy you’d like to dispel?
I don’t really have one. I’m comfortable with us keeping our mystique.
You have done dramatic acting, sketch and improv, what does each give you that the other does not?
Well what they all give me is the opportunity to discover hilarious moments. In sketch, that’s during the writing process, in acting its when you figure out how you’re going to play a scene, and in improv, you’re on stage discovering those moments as you perform them, which is why its the most fun.
Musical comedy has certainly seen a lot of success in the last couple of years and you have dabbled in this. Do you find crowds react differently to this type of performance versus your other comedy?
Sometimes it seems a little easier, like you can get away with telling less jokes because you’re singing a song. You’re not just a bear on stage telling jokes, you’re a dancing bear on stage telling jokes, its one more level of entertainment. So yes, it’s cheating. However, if your audience isn’t really expecting sing-song-time it can be awkward. I remember once you had me on a Just For Laughs showcase where everyone else did stand-up and I sang a 5-minute song about how my bed went on a road trip without me. People were confused.
Why is Vancouver a good place for comedy?
It’s exciting to do comedy here because it feels like we’re just on the cusp of being a big deal. It’s not a big, oversaturated scene yet, its a group of talented people doing it because they’re passionate about it.
Every article about comedy has to have a pun in the title. What would you like yours to be?
Anderson? I hardly know her son!