“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.”

In comedy, it’s not unusual to hear stories about comics having to wait in line or have to hand out fliers to get  five minutes on a show. On the occasion that a group of comics have an “I-had-it-tough-starting-out” conversation, I think I know someone who’ll have them beat.

Ryan Lachance loves comedy. He loves it a lot. If comedy were a girl, she’d have to get a restraining order. When I first met Ryan years ago, it was at a show at place called El Cocal, which is now one half of Drive Organics.

Ryan has cerebral palsy, so in order to do a free five-minute set, he would have to arrange a ride from White Rock, find a willing participant to hold the microphone for him, and navigate the narrow confines of the restaurant in his wheelchair. He did all this with smile on his face. Of course, once he was on stage, it was nearly impossible to get him off, but really, who could blame him?

His enthusiasm was and continues to be contagious. It has a way of reminding me what was so great about performing in the first place.

His jokes range from the topic of disability to just about anything that happens to bother him at the moment he’s on stage. He’ll often get so caught up in a bit that he’s doing that he will start to laugh which then feeds a loop of laughs from the audience that becomes endless.

Just like any comic who looks back on those starting years, I’m sure Ryan believes it was all worth it.

In many ways, Ryan showing up was worth more to me than it possibly could have to him…but it’s not a contest.

If you want to check out  Ryan Lachance, you can got to :

Ryan was kind enough to answer a question or two for Vancouver Is Awesome.

When was the last time you laughed until you cried?

Yesterday, when my friend John did his impression of me doing Stanley from MADtv.

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

That there is such thing as a bad show, I would take doing stand-up over anything any day. Except sex.

What would be your idea of a perfect venue?

Any venue where they have the hindsight to make the stage accessible for people with such cunning witticisms as I have.

You have overcome more than most to be a comedian, what is the largest obstacle you’ve defeated?

Adapting the viewpoint of my personal disability and making it funny for able-bodied people without disappointing persons with their own disabilities.

How do you feel your act has evolved since you began?

I’m still telling the Skytrain joke, eight years later…   other than that stand-up has allowed me to be okay with myself. Also as a person stuck in their mode of transport over 50% of the time. I’ve also learned to focus less on disability over the years and not use it as such a crutch. I have a lot to learn, yet I am enjoying the ride.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to do comedy but is afraid?

Do it. The only way you’ll overcome your fears is to face them head on. That’s how the girl in the front row knows you’re the man, so many people live their lives wishing that they had done things. Why not just do them, instead of wondering…

Why is Vancouver a good place for comedy?

The people in the Vancouver comedy scene are awesome! A lot of my life I’ve been trying to find the place where I belong, yet the people in Vancouver made me feel like my heart was here.

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

Graham Clark because I’ve learned the most about being a stand-up comic from him, and he looks like a Keebler elf! Charlie Demers, good looks and intellectually the funniest man I know. Kayla Ziefflie is definitely an up and comer that you need to see. The final person would have to be Billy Connolly, just because.

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

With laughter, you too can be rolling on the ground.

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