Whistler comedian Kyle Killeen tends to leave things to the last minute.
So much so, that he was still writing material for his set last week at the Crystal Lounge’s comedy open mic just minutes before he was to hit the stage. Thinking he had until the end of the Canucks game, Killeen was furiously penning jokes about his “Whistler skid life” in the final period when he heard from the event organizer that he was supposed to go on any minute.
A frazzled Killeen got behind the mic, let out a few of his trademark giggles and read from his well-worn joke book, winning over a drunk and somewhat hostile crowd with his unique brand of Whistler-centric humour and easygoing stage presence.
In short, the kid’s a natural, but that doesn’t mean he’s not going to take the time to prepare for his set Monday (Jan. 27) at the Creative 5 Eclectic Comedy Jam.
“I’m probably going to use a few of the classics, but this is my first paid gig, so I think I’m actually going to take some time and not wait until the third period to write some jokes,” Killeen said.
The pizza delivery guy hails from Ottawa and took part in a few open mics there before taking home the top prize at Whistler’s first amateur comedy competition in the fall. The contest earned Killeen a free catskiing trip, an opening gig at Maxx Fish for several pro Vancouver comics and, admittedly, the inspiration to get back into stand-up.
“It was definitely motivating to have the contest, and then after that those open mic shows at the Crystal helped because I’m quite the procrastinator and usually wait until the day of to (write material),” he said.
Fellow comic and Whistler local Tara O’Doherty shares Killeen’s opinion, saying the LB Productions-run competition, which was proceeded by a four-week comedy crash course led by Toronto actor and stand-up Megan Fullerton, gave her the push she needed to fulfill a lifelong dream.
“It was one of the most incredible experiences of my life,” said O’Doherty, who will also be performing on Monday. “I dreamed of doing stand-up and I’ve always been the sort of class clown-type person. But being able to get up there in front of a crowd and have that response, people laughed and it’s the best compliment anyone could ever get. From that, I just wanted to do more.”
O’Doherty, who is a staple of the resort’s arts community, performing improv and acting in a host of different local productions, hasn’t actually done any stand-up since taking second place in November’s amateur contest. Just like Killeen though, she guarantees that she’ll be ready to go once Monday arrives.
“I’ve been working on some new stuff,” she said. “I’m always trying to create funny, but I like it polished. It’s my OCD and ADD — everything has to be right but just for a short amount of time.”
Between the fall’s popular stand-up competition, the Crystal’s monthly open mics and Dusty’s upcoming comedy jam, it’s clear Whistler has a growing appetite for funny.
“You look after that competition, and the crowd that grew and grew leading up to the finals, it was incredible.” O’Doherty said. “Seeing hundreds of people show up, it shows that Whistler is thirsty — and I mean thirsty — for humour and arts in general.”
And with an international, fun-loving populace, Whistler is an easy place to gain inspiration from, making it easy to riff on the unique resort town, according to Killeen, who said he’s motivated by Whistler “in every way.”
“You’re just here living the dream and there’s just such a funny culture here, it’s easy to be inspired by it,” he said.
The Creative 5 Eclectic Comedy Jam starts at 8 p.m. at Dusty’s Bar. Admission is by donation.