The 2011 Winnipeg Comedy Festival began this past Friday, April 1st for the start of its 10-day run of mostly stand-up comedy (with a little bit of sketch, improv, and theatre) throughout the city of Winnipeg. Celebrating 10 years, the festival has grown from a small idea in this quaint prairie town into a massive festival featuring comics from across the country and a series of galas televised on CBC every spring.
The official launch of the festival at its featured venue, The Gas Station Theatre, begins tonight at 8:00pm with First Gibbs: A Festival Kick-Off, featuring comedy performer Chris Gibbs. Gibbs, who 20 years ago began as a street performer in London, is a regular on the Canadian Fringe Festival circuit with a variety of one-man shows (such as "The Power of Ignorance" and "Gibberish") and made his Winnipeg Comedy Festival debut last year (his gala performance at last year's festival actually airs this Tuesday evening on CBC). Combining stand-up comedy with improvisation and a bit of theatrics, Gibbs has wowed audiences across the world over, appearing at London's Comedy Store, Melbourne's Last Laugh, and the Just for Laughs Festival in Montreal.
I got the chance to speak with Gibbs last week in advance of his festival shows (he'll also appear as part of the CBC Radio Pilots performance on Thursday night and the Saturday evening gala, Hysterics), and he spoke at length about his early years as a performer, his experiences with Winnipeg audiences and those elsewhere, his many accomplishments throughout his many years of performing, and the various neurosis involved in getting in front of an audience. If you're a comedy fan, or just interested in getting into the mind of a live performer, this is definitely an interview you'll not want to miss.
Paul Little is the founder and Managing Editor of ShowbizMonkeys.com. When not interviewing his favourite musicians and comedians, he can also be found at The Purple Room in Winnipeg, where he is Artistic Director. (@comedygeek)