One of the most anticipated and highly-attended shows every year at the Winnipeg Comedy Festival is The Winnipeg Show, the stand-up comedy showcase at the Gas Station Theatre comprised of Winnipeg-raised or Winnipeg-based comics. Sure, for those of us who closely follow the local comedy scene, most of this comedians are familiar and can be seen on a weekly basis at open mics or feature shows throughout the city on a weekly basis. But for those comedy fans who don't regularly visit the Cavern on Sundays or the King's Head on Tuesdays, it's a chance to see some of the great talent this city is producing. (Plus, there are always a one or two former Winnipeggers, such as Bruce Clark this year, who are back in town for the festival and get to share a stage with their hometown comics.)
For the local comics honing their craft in this city, however, The Winnipeg Show -- which is Friday, April 8th @ 10:30pm -- is a big deal. Unlike open mics, or even gigs at Rumor's or elsewhere, this Winnipeg Comedy Festival show smack-dab in the middle of the busy weekend schedule is an amazing opportunity. Stand-ups like Dan Huen, Mike Green, Dan Robertson, Ryan Ash, and the godfather of local comedy, John B. Duff (who's hosting this year's event) get to show casual comedy fans and those visiting from out of town their best 5-10 minutes of material, and shine a spotlight on the quality comedy being produced in this small-ish prairie city.
Last week, I met up with one of those Winnipeg-based comics being featured on the show -- Ryan Ash -- in the Osborne Village area for a walk-and-talk, and asked him about how he got started in comedy, who inspired him as a comic, and what he thinks of the local scene. For more from Ryan (who, besides being a sought-after act in the city, is also the host of the outrageous local live game show, "Advancement"), visit him on YouTube.
Ryan was just added to the bill for the Best of the Fest Gala taking place Sunday, April 10th @ 5:00pm at the Pantages Playhouse Theatre. So be sure to check him out alongside Ryan Belleville, Pete Zedlacher, Mike Ward, Jimmy Tingle, Nikki Payne, Darryl Lenox, Maureen Langan, Elivara Kurt, and Sean Keane.
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)