Monday, February 28, 2011

Who To Watch: Trevor Thompson

Today JH5 is proud to highlight Trevor Thompson as “WHO TO WATCH”.  Thompson was candid in our interview, and provides an insightful look into himself, as well as the comedy world.

The comedy scene in Ottawa has changed considerably since Trevor Thompson first stepped on the stage six and a half years ago.  When Thompson started, the maximum amount of stage time an amateur would receive is twice monthly.  Fast forward to 2010, and comedy and stage time has grown in Ottawa.  The two clubs, Yuk Yuk’s Comedy Club and Absolute Comedy still promote New Talent along with their amazing array of signed acts, but there are also various open mic’s and venues hosting comedy shows.  A comic can get stage time anywhere from 2-10 times per month.  

Thompson has been a favorite of JH5 staff from the first introduction to his comedy.   He is not a typical comic, and his material does not follow a pre-set formula.  He moves with ease from jokes about Ottawa, Canada, the world, and hippies with good business sense.  His trademark is his wit, charm, and voice.   Thompson has hosted many show and venues, from large audiences to as few as eight people.  He can take a small audience and make them laugh like they were triple that amount.  While he shines in front of small audiences, he is that much more dynamic in front of a crowd of 150 or more.  Thompson is a very intelligent man and comic, and aware of the world around him.  This increases his skills while performing as he can take what is going on in the world, and apply it to each days performance.  People automatically like Thompson, because his stage persona drives you to him, and leaves you wanting more humour, more laughter, more Thompson.

Thompson tells of his first time on stage.  He was twenty nine, and had always wanted to perform comedy, even as a teenager.  He did not pursue it until later because he had a variety of other creative pursuits all while building a career in the public service.  When he tried comedy for the first time, he brought a lot of friends with him, and the audience was stacked for laughter.  Given Thompson had already had some stage training, and is a skilled writer, he performed well his first time out the gate and fell in love with stand up comedy from that moment.  He states there is nothing as wonderful as the adrenaline one gets from a successful set, the audience’s laughter, and the knowledge everything has fallen into place.  Why do drugs, when you can perform comedy?

Thompson’s idols include Monty Python, Bill Hicks, David Cross, Patton Oswald, and Dave McConnell.  When asked about his best and worst shows he demonstrates his humility (with a side of pessimism) stating he has not had his best set yet, but does remember his worst time on stage.  It was during his first road trip, performing five minutes to an audience in Renfrew where he performed to a crowd of 200 people, who remained absolutely quiet.  They did not just sit there and smile silently, there was hostility in their silence!   He learned on that trip that a comic has to adapt at times to the crowd, and be prepared for anything.   ANYTHING!

Thompson is proud to perform his comedy alongside his peers.  He feels that Ottawa comics form a tight nit community with a talented group of people for the size of it’s population.  Ottawa is very welcoming, which is not always the case in the larger cities where competition for spots is fierce.  Thompson is often seen introducing himself to newcomers, giving them words of encouragement, and always introduces them to the stage with professionalism that gives new comics a boost of much needed extra confidence.  When asked if he had advice for new comedians, he deadpanned “yeah don’t get good and take work away from me”.

Thompson, a local favourite at Ottawa Yuk Yuk’s Comedy Club, is concerned that the new “generation” of comics are trying to get too good, too fast.  When Thompson started out, Howard Wagman, General Manager of Yuk Yuk’s said to him “there are no short cuts in comedy.  The only way to get good, is to continue to gain experience and find your voice”.  Thompson has lived by these words, and has slowly earned his spot as one of Ottawa’s top comics.  Even now, six and a half years after he started, Thompson believes he has a long way to go.  He feels every time on stage is a learning experience, a time to grow and improve your act.  He compares the creation of a 45 minute set to writing a novel.  The work that goes into creating an analyzing a ‘bit’ until it is perfected comes with much time on stage until it clicks and is just right.

Thompson also fears that new comics may come with entitlement issues.  He wishes he had the confidence to go and start a fan page before even being established.  When asked about self-promotion, Thompson states that he is not good at talking about himself, seeing himself on video, or telling people about his comedy.  He comes from a world view of “letting the work speak for itself” but acknowledges that the advent of social media such as facebook and twitter have led to EVERYONE self-promoting and he should get moving.  He has the talent, now he needs to get the word out so that people can see his talent. *for more on Self-Promotion see yesterday’s blog here*

Thompson’s career is soaring at a comparable rate to his patience dropping.  People are not aware that texting while watching a show is considered exceptionally rude, and can throw a performer off their ‘game’.  Funny gal Martha Chaves has compared heckling and not paying attention in the audience to cutting a ballerina’s legs off and telling her to dance.  Thompson has lost his temper with audience members, though often with good reason.  He and other comics on the same show may attempt to let the “texter/heckler” know that this is not acceptable, and can even engage them in small banter and tear them apart with their wit, but there are times when a good “shut the eff up” has come out.  Thompson is working on this, but it is agreed that further education needs to go out to the new generation coming to watch stand up comedy.  If you want to talk or work on your computer/phone, then stay home and watch You tube.  You will get what you pay for, but go ahead.  If you want the live excitement, of which there is no comparison, of stand up comedy, then come on out and put the machines away for two hours.  To put it bluntly:  Thompson hates stupid people, but is learning to live along side of them.

While Thompson enjoys his peers, he does feel that the worst thing to see is outdated comics who have just given up.  Comics performing racist/sexist material that they were doing twenty years ago often fare badly.  The world has changed, and comedy has changed with it.  There are dark comedians who can do this material in a way that makes more fun of the racist, but when comics won’t evolve, they do not bring the energy to the audience, and present a bad face for professional comedy.

In an ideal world in ten years Thompson will either be playing Major League Baseball, or making a living full time at comedy.  Either one will satisfy him fully.  Thompson continues to be one of JH5’s favourites, and we are proud to present him as “WHO TO WATCH”.  He will continue to be a strong fixture in the Ottawa comedy scene, and it is our hope that people will catch the Thompson fever.  

Jenn Hayward
JH5 Promotions

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Jenn's Thoughts: February 27th, 2011

Today I am going to discuss self-promotion, but first a look at what is coming up this week:

Monday:  WHO TO WATCH:  Profile of Trevor Thompson
Tuesday:  WOMEN OF COMEDY:  Guest Blogger Christina Walkinshaw
Wednesday:  MEN OF COMEDY:  Guest Blogger Graham Chittenden
Thursday-Friday:  WHAT TO WATCH OTTAWA *Special note, we are close to adding Montreal with support of TuJoHAHA!
Saturday:  A special surprise!

Most importantly, JH5 is proud to present The Shattered Ceiling Cabaret to celebrate International Women's Day, a benefit for Immigrant Women Services Ottawa.  This evening will celebrate women through comedy (Kate Davis, and Martha  Chaves), song (Chelsea O'Connor), Bollywood (Bollywood for Fun), Metis Jigging (Jaime Koebel), and Burlesque (Rockalily).

" I never wanted to be famous, I only wanted to be great" - Ray Charles

Self Promotion

As always, JH5 is here to promote and celebrate comedy.  We are just people with ideas, and if people find them useful, let us know!  If not, we hope this article, which is titled Jenn's Thoughts and should be taken as such, can provide a forum for discussion on the subject of promoting one's self, in whatever one does.

It is well known in comedy circles that some of the best comedians are unknown, and some average comedians are quite famous.  As someone who loves promoting and supporting talent and organizations, this has always been an interesting topic.  What makes someone famous, and when do people compromise talent to get make it big?

Ottawa itself is home to some strong talent, yet many people could not tell you their names.  When someone says "hey, I like (insert comedians name here)" it is because they have seen them perform live once at a club or corporate event.  It may be one of the only comedians they have seen.  It is great that talent is being recognized in small doses, but this word of mouth may take a very long time for the comic to become recognized.  In this age of social media, having talent is almost as important as hype. How then does the public distinguish between those with talent and those without, and why are the very talented comedians not promoting themselves.  Let's discuss.

You Tube has birthed many breakout stars such as dancing babies, men getting hit with various objects in the scrotum, and Dane Cook.  Novelty at best, but better known than most comedians.  Is You Tube going to make it better for true talent to get noticed?  The answer is no. Those who break out on You Tube have a hook, a quick easy laugh.  The videos that go viral often involve a cat who burglarizes his neighbours, or a dog who knows how to do chores. People do not send links to half hour sets of "the best comedy ever".  Who has half an hour?  (Ironically, people won't watch a half hour video but will watch 15 two minute videos)

It is clear that those who become famous through You Tube and other social media often have a gimmick, or some off the wall quality that makes people want to share it around.  I imagine that if a comic, even a brand new comic, would get over a million hits if they did their act naked.  A naked comic?  That's a hook.  Maybe in their act, they bring out a cute dog to do a trick.  That's a hook.  People need a hook, but obviously real talent will not degrade or reduce their quality to become famous.  They, like Ray Charles, want to be great.  As wonderful as this is, great doesn't pay the bills.  

Is there a middle ground?  The answer is yes and no.  There is no sure fire method to bring greatness to fame or fame to greatness, but there are tips to quality self promote.  In the WHO TO WATCH segment tomorrow, Trevor Thompson discusses this issue, and has always believed that the talent should speak for itself.  While agreed, promotion is then getting the talent known so people can appreciate it.  Some common ways to self-promote are:

  • Websites
  • Fanpages
  • Twitter Accounts
  • Blogging (no comment)
  • Postcards
  • Business Cards
  • LinkedIn
  • so much more
Those comics that are supported by an agency have some promotion out of the way.  They have impressed someone in the industry enough to want to stand behind their quality.  This is great, but know the same agency is also booking many other talent, and will leave some of the promotion to the comedian. Funny Business is a well known agency who provides some of my favourite comedians, but these comedians still need to help promote themselves.  They need to stand out from the crowd, so after their agency sends them out to a gig in front of 300 people, those people can go to the comedians website and spread the word. 

What barriers exist to comedians (and other art forms) utilizing self-promotion?  The first is money and time.  Wonderful talent may have to keep a day job to stay afloat, and spend their evenings performing to hone their craft.  What time is left to twitter, update sites and more?  We at JH5 have many ideas how to address these barriers, but are not sharing them today :)  (feel free to contact us should you wish to know more).  The hardest barriers to overcome are: confidence, accepting compliments, and selling oneself. Many newcomers to comedy start fan sites.  When I tried comedy it seemed the thing to do so what the heck, i started one too.  My family was nice enough to join, thus I now have a fan club of five people!  I was saying "look at me I am great" when I had barely started out.  So for a true comedian to have a fan page, it seems as if amateurs have watered down the pool and made the idea of promotion weaker.  Imagine two different sites two different comics.  They have the same number of fans, so they must be equal in quality right?  Alas no, perhaps one fan has 500 followers because they have been working in comedy and slowly grown a fan base, and the other one has 5000 Facebook friends who said "sure, I will 'like' your page".  

This is hard to overcome, but should not deter the real talent from promoting.  In my head, three things provide weight to someone proclaiming to be a good comic.

  1. Where have they played?  Really check this out.  Many have played at Yuk Yuk's and Absolute Comedy, but it has been on a New Talent Night.  Not really the superstar action when all you have to do is call in at the right time to get a spot.  A regular host or Middler?  You now have my attention.
  2. Who says they are good?  Testimonials are about as good as references.  It really depends on what is behind them.  If an amateur comic was hired for their grandparents 50th anniversary, and the guests write a testimonial, that is nice, but let's broaden it a bit.  I recently gave a testimonial about our website designer.  He was also a friend of mine.  In some eyes that might water down the testimonial, but what strengthens it is that we do repeat business with this person.  Friendship aside, he provides quality work in a timely fashion, and we continue to pay him money, which is what makes a good testimonial:  Money Talks.  So to promote, find others who will testify that you are fantastic, but with depth behind it. 
  3. Time.  This in itself is not a defining factor, as many people might play stages for many years, but not be very good.  A comedian who has continually grown their craft over 7 years, and can demonstrate their progression, this provides weight behind the claim, "I am a strong comedian".
The final discussion topic in this blog is back to where we started: the hook.  There are those who use gimmicks for their hooks, but we are talking about the core of a comedian.  When people turn to your newly developed website, in five minutes they should know who you are.  At your core, what do you represent?  What are you trying to say in your comedy, and why should people say money to watch you?  Essentially:  your branding.  Remember back to the beginning of this blog, to someone appreciating your talent after watching your performance?  When they told their friend/colleague that they liked you, they likely gave reasons you were funny.  What makes you different?  

I have some ideas on how to create this hook, take or leave them as you will. 

1. Pretend you are doing a Google search on yourself.  What key words would you type in?  What is your comedy about?  What joke would people remember and type in to find your name? 
2.  Choose your top five comics of all times, and try to describe who they are at their core.  What are their key messages?
3.  Find out how others would others describe you through a 360 view?  360 involves from all angles, so perhaps ask a friend, other comedians, the owners of the comedy clubs, and some of your fans.  360 is not easy, as you are essentially asking for feedback, and many will try to then say what they like or don't like about your act, but redirect them.  How would they describe you, not change you? 

Once you have completed these exercise you have the raw data to find out how to market yourself. Go back and answer the questions of what makes you special, and why others should watch you.  Do not limit yourself to "i am gay, I am black, i am a woman etc. etc."  You must dig deeper, and really find your core.  Once you do, build your site and start promoting yourself.  When you create yourself as more marketable, people will want to purchase your product, which in this case is your comedy.

One cannot just be great at one thing and make a living.  If you are an artist, in any area, people must know the art exists before they can appreciate it.  The ideas we present here may assist you in being able to market yourself in a way that keeps your integrity intact.  If you are not a comedian reading this blog, find the comedians you like and spread the word.  Live comedy is an exciting art form that gets lost at times because of You Tube and other technology, but there is nothing like it, and I advise you to get out there and support it today.

Jenn Hayward

Friday, February 25, 2011

Absolute Comedy Recap/Review: February 24, 2011

It seems that every soccer mom, grandparent and principle showed up at Absolute Comedy this Thursday evening. Lucky for this audience, the host and MC for the evening was Denis Grignon, a seasoned pro in the comedy world. His impressively clean material worked very well with this audience. He warmed them up with some mingling and well polished jokes.

Josh Williams then hit the stage

Williams is a regular in the Ottawa comedy scene, especially at Absolute Comedy where he is a fixture. Some of his jokes are on the risque side, and a few fell flat but Williams acknowledged it in such a funny way that he won everyone back. His self-deprecating humor and charming personality was a big hit appreciated by the audience.

Next up was Becky Bays

Bays is a newcomer from Toronto. Her adorable sauciness is a greatly appreciated new take on stand-up comedy. Her one liner about liking older men was the highlight of the entire show. Hopefully she will be doing more shows in Ottawa soon. JH5 will keep you posted!

And Finally Ted Bisaillion

By the time the headliner Bisaillion arrived to the stage, the audience had become very interactive. They were yelling things out and commenting on his performance like they were on their couch watching him on television. Ted got many laughs but the audience would not give them out easily. He worked for every laugh, and it really paid off. Bisaillion took the often told airline jokes and brought them to a new level of funny. At one point, after mildly offending a woman in the front row, he offered to donate his check to her charity. Throughout the remainder of the show Bilaillion joked about giving money away to everyone offended by anything the comics had said.

All the comics did very well, but had to work a bit harder to get the laughs. They succeeded as it was a very enjoyable show; even the lady in the front row seemed happy at the end of the night.

For reservations to Absolute Comedy, contact (613) 233-8000

Sophie Buddle

Yuk Yuk's Comedy Recap/Review February 24, 2011

It is Thursday night, and Yuk-Yuk's on Elgin Street is sold out to a crowd of quiet, subdued people. About half of the crowd was there for a fundraising event for Ugandan children. The other half were there for two-for-one student night, making the audience a diverse mix.
The host is local favorite Trevor Thompson

Thompson starts off by apologizing for tonights performance, because he is feeling really sick, but promises he will do to his best not to hack and wheeze all over the audience. He succeeds, and manages to get through his rant about Glebe hippies complete with Axel Rose impression without breaking his voice and with high energy,  Unfortunately this crowd remained quiet, not giving any energy back. 

Next up is local talent David Rotenberg

To be more specific, next up is Rabbi David Rotenberg.  Rotenberg managed to get some genuine laughs out of the crowd, but many of his jokes, being mostly about the cultural differences between Jews and non-Jews barely solicited polite chuckles, which was most unfortunate, because Rotenberg's material was not just funny, but also very intelligent. His bit about being wished a "Happy Heineken" by a store cashier was original, well written, and received a loud guffaw from myself.  Yet the audience remained quiet.

Next to take the stage is Ugandan-Canadian Arthur Simeon

It seems that Simeon is the person the crowd is here to see, making sense of the fundraiser for Ugandan children. Simeon has a charming stage persona, and spends a great deal of time interacting directly with audience members.  He makes fun of African stereotypes, and flirts with the ladies. Although  the energy of this crowd was generally low, they responded much more favorably to Simeon than to the first two performers. The energy rises slightly in the room, but still not at the peak it could be.

The headliner tonight is Ian Sirota

Sirota is a veteran on the Canadian comedy scene.  He attempts to keep the audience energy up and flowing. He does this with a shotgun approach, adding a little bit of everything to see what received a reaction, including being poor, married a long time, Canadians liking beer and hockey etc.  The jokes are well written, but the topics are ones that are covered by a plethora of other comics.  They might play well to some audiences, but this audience was not biting.

If you are looking to get your laugh on this weekend, head down to Yuk-Yuk's and check out these very funny gentelmen. and bring your energy, they deserve better than they received tonight. And when doing a fundraiser, no matter how sad or serious the topic, bring your laugh to the club!  Simeon is also headlining the Yuk Yuk's Prescott location.  Tomorrow brings another day for everyone to bounce back to a great audience this weekend.  Reservations to both locations:  236-LAFF (5233)

Josh Hayward

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Interim Article: About Us

Fear not, MEN OF COMEDY is still coming, later today, with the talented Kenny Robinson!  
In the interim, I am excited that we got an article in the community papers (all of them) on our show for March 8th!  
We have two television appearances booked, and many ads out there, so folks, let's get those tickets moving!
Here at JH5, we have now divided our business into four areas:

  1.  Producing shows
  2. The Blog you are reading (yes, when we get enough people, we make more money, so spread the word
  3.  Custom Social Media Marketing
  4. Custom Home Murder Mystery Parties

We have not yet gone public or changed our website about 3 & 4 so you heard it here first!
As JH5 grows, so too does our need for talent.  We will need more comedy guest bloggers.  We are thrilled that the talents of Darcy Michaels, Kenny Robinson, Graham Chittenden, Aaron Berg, Christina Walkinshaw, Cory Mack, and more!  We will be looking for more reviewers, and some talented people to work with our Murder Mysteries.

Our company all started with our love of comedy and our desire to produce quality shows that are gender and culturally friendly.  As we have moved forward, we have seen other niches that our skills can be put to use in this world.  We will never forget though why we are doing this.  As a bureaucrat (me) and a stay at home parent to three children we adopted three years ago  (Josh), we wanted to leave a legacy for our children, and provide something that Josh can make money at while still being available for all three school, and so many appointments with community services to give the absolute best services for our children who did not get the best start in life.  

For those new to our Blog and company, we are called JH5.  All our children have "J" names, as do Josh and Jenn (us), thus we are JH5.  Our children have business cards, with the titles of  associate producers on our shows.  The teacher was confused when our 7-year-old girl was inviting the class to a play at our home!  So we won't be using them as our main advertisers, but they love being involved with the show!  In our next show I told the boys they could bring flowers to all the pretty women as they come off stage, to which they replied "but what about the ugly ones, don't they deserve flowers too?".  The opportunities for us as a family to utilize this business to help us grow closer and serve the community at the same time is more than we could ever have dreamed of.

So please continue to read and support our blog, sign up for our facebook page , follow us on Twitter, and support local comedy wherever you live, you won't be sorry.
Catch Kenny later today and our reviews tomorrow.

All our relations,
Jenn Hayward (JH2) 
on behalf of JH1, JH3, JH4 &JH5

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


How does a girl from Saskatchewan become a comedian? Some folks throw questions at you like this and you wonder if they really want to find an answer – or perhaps the judgement is in the question? You know those questions – like if you’re pregnant and huge and total strangers ask “when are you due”. They’re not sending you flowers – they’re just WOWED at how HUGE you are according to their judgy-judgy pregnancy/size calendar in their minds.

But what if you really wanted to know how someone could go from a farm a ¼ mile from Dodsland, SK. to a comedian? Well, to be honest, finding comedy in Saskatchewan, apart from the obvious dog running away for 3 days joke, was hard at times. Growing up there were Ukrainian jokes, Helen Keller jokes, Jesus jokes and Bob Hope. More slim pickings for chuckles also included glimpses of the jokes in the Readers Digest and Wall and Den, a morning radio team out of Saskatoon. One day over cereal we heard them saying that “out in Dodsland there’s a man named Weldon Bacon….you know, Well-done Bacon.” See? This is what we had to work with. 

You had to look and listen hard for the good stuff. Once in a friend’s rumpus room in BC, we heard Steve Martin’s Wild and Crazy Guy. An epiphany. Sometimes I’d catch a glimpse of Laugh Inn or a Dean Martin Roast. I’d try Red Button’s bits… “I did ALL the dishes and dusted and NEVER got a dinner”. My parents would stare blankly and shake their heads. Anarchy! I need more comedy! 

One fateful year, my folks had tickets to see Bill Cosby at the Jubilee in Saskatoon. Mom got the flu and last minute I got to go with my dad and our neighbours. A four hour round trip from the farm to see a man sit on a stool with his cigar and his mind and our imaginations and weave words for hour after hour. I thought my dad would fall off his chair or quite possibly the balcony. My cheeks hurt and my mind was racing. For months after, we relived the words, the images – repeating them to anyone who’d listen. I couldn’t get over how much of it we remembered – and the connection each of us in the audience felt to him and his stories. 

Small town folk know the excitement of something happening – we used to pray folks would get married so we would have SOMETHING to do! And if there is a wedding dance, not only is there something to do – we’re all doing something together. A comedy show is like a wedding dance (except there’s no open bar). Stay with me - we all agree to go on the ride together - anticipating, breathing and sensing something’s about to happen – we buckle up and hear what we hear – see what we see - and at the end of the time – we leave. And more often than not we leave with more than when we went in with – connections and opinions and funny stories to tell. One thing is certain, regardless of what we take home from the show, that adventure we shared is never ever going to be the same for anyone else. That comedian and the audience combined with the words and intentions of that time together will never exist in the exact same combination. That is what makes doing comedy both dangerous and full of possibility. And exactly why comedy terrifies some and why comedy is a compelling, undeniable calling for others…like me. Long story, not so short.

Monday, February 21, 2011


The Fabulous Jen grant

Jen Grant preforming at JH5's Chickles
Twelve years ago, a young woman already experienced in the performance arts was asked to try her hand at comedy.  A friend supported her in her first endeavour with stand up, and helped her get the confidence to give it a try.  As Jen Grant hit the stage at a New Talent night, it was clear to everyone that she already had the stage presence to go far, and it was clear to Grant that she was already in love with the thrill of being on stage and making people laugh.

Throughout her 12 year road with stand up comedy, Grant has had a range of experiences; from throwing up before an important gig before performing 15 minutes of material to a silent and hostile audience, to flying to Egypt and Israel to perform for Canadian troops!  She has had these experiences, and everything in-between.

Grant was scared her first time on stage, but performed quite well.  Given her experience in Second City Acting classes, she had and still has a natural ability on stage.  When watching Grant you see an extremely talented stand up comedian who flows from joke to joke with the ease of regular conversation.  She performs on average four times per week, and no longer feels the jitters on stage.

Grant’s process for developing material is to get inside her head, isolate, and try it on stage.  She states there is no other way to find out if a bit works than to try it a few times.  Grant’s peers actively challenged and pushed her to improve her craft, and with focus and hard work she has evolved into an amazing performer.  Her advice to new comics is to separate yourself from your material, no matter how personal.  One thing she never engaged in, and advises aspiring comedians to never do a ‘hackey’ joke just to get a laugh.  This can become habit, and it is better to write and find your own voice and be confident in who you are.

Grant started out in Ottawa, but now lives in New York City.  She comes home regularly to visit family and perform for her home town.  She also enjoys performing with some of her colleagues in the business, such as Don Kelly, Wendi Reed, Julien Dionne, Alex Wood, and Martha Chaves among others.  It is in Ottawa she is truly home, performing sold out shows to audiences who can’t get enough of Jen Grant.  You can watch her act many times over and there is always laughter!

One experience Grant shares is performing for the troops in Egypt.  The English speaking Canadian troops totalled 25, out of an audience of 200.  Most of the other performers on the tour were singers and dancers.  Grant went on stage, gave the performance of her life to entertain the hard working Canadian men and women, who responded with laughter and applause.  The rest of the non-English speaking audience thought Grant was just a long winded woman introducing the next dancing act!  It is a good thing she is attractive as well, or this crowd of non-speaking individuals may have gotten a bit rowdy!  These experiences she has in life could only have been brought to her through her hard work, determination, and natural skill.

Grant loves performing comedy, and thinks the best thing about comedy is that she doesn’t work in an office, confined to cubicles.  She knew from an early age that she was creative and free and needed to find a career to match this.  The challenge to being a full-time comedian is the instability of the lifestyle.  To make it as a comedian, it requires sacrifice and determination, along with time on stage.  Jen travels across North America to a variety of audiences.  This must be done to work consistently and wait for the “big break”.

In an ideal world, in ten years Grant will  be the biggest star anyone has ever seen or an organic farmer in Wakefield, Quebec.  She jokes, but she is talented, hard working, and ambitious, and will likely end up far in this business.

Grant is still a young woman, and has an amazing career ahead of her.  JH5 is proud to present Jen Grant as the first “WHO TO WATCH’ segment, and rest assured, when Grant is in town, JH5 will let you know.  If you have not had the pleasure, you are in for a wonderful treat.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Comedy Etiquette

I have watched live stand up comedy since I was 17 and saw my first show at Yuk Yuk's in Edmonton.  I have been hooked ever since.  I even tried stand up when I was younger, but soon quit because lord it is scary.  I have been doing it slowly for a year now on amateur stages, and love it, but it is no less scary.  Now I have more life experience though to make fun of.  I don't' write jokes, I just stand there and people laugh at my life experiences, well that is the goal, sometimes they form tears and are worried for me and my family :)

Comedy has changed much over those 19 years.  There are still comedy clubs, but many consider YouTube a good substitution.  (it is not people, go to a show and see for yourselves)  19 years ago the landscape was different, especially for women.  Overall what was shock comedy at that time is pretty common place now.  Today, racism and extreme sexism is not really as acceptable, unless done by a genius writer who is more poking fun at racists and jerks.  Today, I think the good comics must have strong writing skills.  They must be intelligent, and witty word smiths.  This is demonstrated in much of the local talent.  One of the darkest comedians I know in the city (Dave McConnell) is careful about words he uses, and has whittled them down to a craft to get maximum laughs per set.  Many other comics exist, right here in Ottawa, and I am always drawn more to their writing than their performances.  Others may disagree, but whatever, get your own blog :)

One other change in the comedy scene is the advent of cellphones, texting machines, and other wireless things I do not know about.  (i seriously do not have a cellphone outside the one my work makes me have so they can get hold of me 24/7, but i don't use it personally)  What audiences are doing now is bringing these machines into the comedy club and using them while the performers are on stage.  Some of you may say "but Jenn, this is a problem all over, it is annoying when they do this during movies too, why is comedy special?.  I can only say that yes, I get exceptionally annoyed with people in movie theatres who bring out these devices, but in comedy you are dealing with live people.  If watching Gone with the Wind, and the person in front of you brings out a very distracting cell phone, Rhett Butler is not going to lose concentration and stop kissing Scarlet O'Hara (if you don't get this reference, look it up, I am not providing a second one).  In a comedy club, when you bring out the devices, you may stop the comedian's train of thought or momentum, which ruins it for EVERYBODY.  Comedians do an amazing amount of work to get this material ready for you, you paid money to get in, so put the cellphone away, and enjoy the show.  No good can come from it otherwise, and you are likely to gain the contempt of the comedian, and NO good can come from that.

So we all agree that texting machines are bad etiquette in a comedy club.  Etiquette tip number two, and this one is important: if you enjoy what you are hearing, and think it is funny, feel free to laugh OUT LOUD.  I have watched many people raving about the comedian when the show is complete, but they made no noise at all during the show.  Our society, and I will say especially government town, seems to be quiet and shy at the best of times.  If you are at home, watching television and hear something funny, I bet you laugh out loud.  When in public, you may shy away from bringing attention to your laugh, maybe it is loud, you snort or otherwise.  I will agree that maybe when you are watching a play about AIDS and burst out laughing, perhaps it is not the best thing (but seriously everytime i hear them sing those horrible songs in RENT, i laugh a little inside).  Ideally you will cry at AIDS shows, and laugh at comedy shows.  There is nowhere in the world where it is more acceptable to drink, let loose and LAUGH!  Comedians feed off your energy, and the more energy you provide the more energy they will give back.  So that show you raved about could have been that much better if you had expressed said appreciation.

Thirdly, and very importantly, don't heckle.  I can't stress this enough people.  I took my boss to a comedy show last year, and found out she was the worst heckler I haver ever known.  One of my favourite comics had enough and yelled "just shut the eff up".  She was so mad, and said to me "it's just part of the show, they should learn to manage it".  No, listening to your comments about their jokes is NOT part of the show.  There are times when the comedian making fun of you is hilarious, but that is NOT their job.  It is your job to come and listen to the professionals (this is their living and they are on that stage because they are great at what they do) and their job is to entertain you.  I asked my boss how she would feel if, while giving a presentation to 200 people someone kept interuppting her and interjecting their opinions.  Let me tell you I have seen this happen, and she does not like it at all, and neither do comics, so keep your voice for laughing, otherwise keep quiet.

These are what I think the main etiquette issues are.  I think if I had to add a few it would be show up on time, don't drink four bottles of wine before you come to the show, and groupies, well you are on your own, but protect yourself!   I am sure there are more advice that professional comedians can add (and hopefully as more of them guest blog you will get to hear their opinions!), but for now, do these three and everyone will have a great show.

Don't let these three "rules" get you worried about coming to a show.  Stand up comedy is an amazing art form that can only truly be enjoyed live.  I think society is forgetting about it, and choosing to stay home and watch movies, and they are missing out.  Get out today to see why JH5 staff and members are so excited about comedy, all the while supporting local comedy.  Tom Green, Jon Dore, and Norm MacDonald all got their start here in Ottawa, and people can see "i remember seeing them....".  Come today and you will see the next superstars.  Hurry up, but leave the texty machine at home!


Friday, February 18, 2011

Absolute Comedy Review: February 17, 2011

Thursday nights at Absolute Comedy always have a certain electric atmosphere about them. This night was no different. The audience was mostly youngins, with a sprinkling of drunk teachers and everyone was excited for the show to begin.

The host for the evening was Tommy Fitz, a regular at Absolute Comedy. Fitz appeared on stage wearing some very comical glasses. He started with some crowd banter and learned very quickly that teachers are very disruptive when alcohol is involved. A women in the back was in town for photography purposes and Fitz turned this into a funny joke about pornography which the crowd loved. Fitz then talked about his dad and ninjas and everyone was warmed up for the first act.

The lucky audience got a surprise visit from Jordan Chyzowski. This young man was in town for his aunt’s wedding and is definitely one of Canada’s hidden gems. Unfortunately he will not be performing all weekend; however, if he is ever performing in Ottawa again, JH5 will let you know!

Fitz then brought Dan Bingham to the stage. The audience was impressed with this Montreal based comedian whose toaster jokes stole the show. Comics often do jokes about how Americans view Canada, but not this well. He had figured out the further you go south in the U.S, the more ignorant people become. By the time he reached Dallas, Texas, beavers were putting their feces in hockey gear. The crowd loved him, and his jokes.

Finally, headliner Evan Carter, came to the stage. His Urkel-like persona was a big hit with the crowd. Everyone related to his hatred for teenagers and their refusal to load the dishwasher. He had the audience in the palm of his hand the entire show.

Absolute Comedy receives a WHAT TO WATCH this weekend!

Reservations can be made by calling (613) 233-8000

Sophie Buddle, Contributing Reviewer

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Review Yuk Yuk Comedy Club February 17, 2011

The Thursday night crowd at Yuk Yuk Comedy Club (Elgin location) has mixed ages. Interestingly enough, the back is filled with interactive, enthusiastic university students, while the front is filled with a few hard to read bureaucrats and a ninety nine year old who looks confused to be there. The MC for the night has his work cut out for him. As Dave Atkinson takes to the stage, he immediately warms up the front row while thoroughly entertaining the partying crowd at the back.

Atkinson has a natural ability on stage, and allows witty banter with ease. There is a birthday in the crowd, and Atkinson spends time engaging a hard working 34 year old who works for the military. Atkinson's ability to take that small bit of information into a plethora of jokes is inspiring. Atkinson is energetic and has the crowd of all ages relaxed, laughing and ready for the next act.

The next comic is John Ki, an Asian comic, (if you can't tell, he reminds you continually through his act, to great laughs.) Ki is extremely laid back in his comedy style, but keeps the energy going through the audience's laughter. He begins talking about growing up in a small town in Ontario, and the racism that exists, and receives great laughter mixed with outrage and how horrible this town sounds! Ki then moves to tried and true material of men vs. women. The audience is at first hesitant, as this type of comedy can be contrived and overused, but Ki takes it in a new and hilarious direction, appealing to both genders. He then moves on to telling the audience how hard it is to be a man (what?) but he has a few good and hilarious points, and moves on to questioning the stress levels of 12 year olds. Much of this material is new, and it plays well with this audience.

Atkinson then introduces the headliner, Ojibwa comic Don Kelly. Kelly immediately speaks of the diversity of the performers tonight (Asian, Aboriginal, and laid back potentially high white man) and questions if Yuk Yuk's is working towards a Cultural grant, and hopes they are going for new carpeting. The crowd responds very well, and all look to the floor to see the cement. The crowd then simultaneously loses energy, it is Thursday night past nine o'clock, and Kelly has to work to get their energy back up. He does this with ease, and enjoys some "banter" with the aforementioned 99 year old. Kelly ask him his name, and he yells "I used to work you know", and the confusing banter continues onward until Kelly leaves the lovely elderly gentleman to his nachos. The crowd enjoys this interplay and is fully awake and back with Kelly. Kelly belts out his marriage jokes, some native jokes, and a topical Bev Oda that comes off the top of his head! Kelly is flawless in his set, interacts with the audience and leaves them fully satisfied.

The show is well received by this audience, and the three unique voices of Atkinson, Ki, and Kelly compliment each other nicely. By far this is the easiest recommendation for "WHAT TO WATCH" and you are advised to make reservations and see this amazing show.

For reservations contact Yuk Yuk's at (613) 236-5233

JH2 (Jenn Hayward)
Blogger and JH5 owner

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Something exciting is afoot! As most of you know, Fridays we post a recap, a review if you will, of the shows at Yuk Yuk's Comedy Club, and Absolute Comedy Club. This gives you, the readers a view of "WHAT TO WATCH".

We are excited to launch "WHO TO WATCH" coming at you on Mondays, starting February 21rst. While WHAT TO WATCH is subjective, and really more a recap of the show, WHO TO WATCH is us interviewing our favourite comedians, and those involved in the comedy business! While we at JH5 focus mostly on female comedy, we will highlight some of the guys we like! (Don Kelly, Trevor Thompson, and one of those Carter boys are just to name a few)

Why are we doing this? If you have read any of our previous posts, you will see that we, all of us at JH5, LOVE comedy. We love to watch comedy almost as much as we enjoy "smooching" with our spouses. (almost) We want to help energize the Ottawa community about comedy, and highlight those working hard on their craft, to give a bit of spotlight to them. We average 100 people per day on our site (let's make it more people!!) and we take 10 of those away for our mom's who are so proud, that they continue to click our site to see if we mentioned them. (trust us, if we mentioned them the comedy would STOP). We want this readership to grow, and help Ottawa become excited about comedy! We want to let you know who we like, and will have a Q & A with our faves, updating weekly! Perhaps this is just the comedian you have been looking for at one of your events? We will also provide their booking information!

So tune in here, bright and early Monday mornings, for WHO TO WATCH! Do you have a fave. that you want us to interview? Then post it in the comment section! We will do comics not in Ottawa as well, pending their desire to be interviewed. Our one rule on "WHO TO WATCH" is that we must have seen them live ourselves. We will not interview someone we have not watched live, because live is where it's at baby, and live is what we are promoting here at JH5!

See you on the 21rst where we have our first WHO TO WATCH with our red headed comedy Goddess, Jen Grant!

As always, thank you for your support, and spread the word that JH5 is the best place to find out about comedy in Ottawa, and hopefully soon in all of Canada!

Sunday, February 13, 2011


Tomorrow is St. Valentine's Day, the day where those with dates feel pressure to do something special, and those without feel pressured to have a date. Truly, I hate this holiday and hubby (JH1) and I don't celebrate. Not that we judge those who do, but we got married on February 19th and will celebrate that, I mean, how much romance do two people need in one month!!

So on this day of love, what do you have planned? There is the boring flowers and candy. There is fancy schmancy dinner that costs an arm and a leg. There is romantic movies, hot tub hotel rooms, and there is.....COMEDY! (what else did you think this blog was going to write about??)

Both comedy clubs in Ottawa are offering love with a touch of humour. They both offer dinner packages or just the show. Is it risky taking a date to comedy? No, there is no risk. Taking a date somewhere they will be able to fully relax takes the pressure of you, and a relaxed date will be better able to.....well to do something after the date. Also, you get your monies worth at the comedy show. You get 1.5-2 hours of solid laughter. And according to the audiences last Thursday (please see previous blogs on Friday for full reviews of the shows) you are getting amazing shows all the way around!

So why impress your date with something new, something that shows you care about her health and well being. (laughter is known to cause less stress, and prevent suicides. yes i read that somewhere) No date? Come on down anyway! Always hotties around the comedy clubs, always! In fact, I am pretty sure some of the headliners are single as well! Plus, no one needs to care if you have a date or not, you are there to laugh! Put societies pressure and "shame" for not having a significant other to bed and get out there and have fun! Take responsibility for your fun and laughter and come out and laugh your collective asses off!

Both shows were reviewed positively, and will be a good bet to go! Yuk Yuk's has the amazing Kristen Von Hagen hosting, and there is something about a female comedian to make everything seem alright! So go to Yuks, or go to Absolute, but just go. Phone now to avoid being disappointed! And if anyone hooks up with someone after these shows, you can thank JH5 for sending you!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Review Yuk Yuk's Comedy Club February 10th, 2011

Kristeen von Hagen

Not sure what to expect when the theme for the show is “Love Court”, but the audience is ready and enthused. The MC for the evening was none other than Kristeen von Hagen, who has been hailed one of Canada’s Top 30 Power Women by Elle Magazine. Bouncing back and forth from clean TV friendly comedy, to edgier “after hours” television type material, von Hagen, had total control of the crowd right from the beginning of the show. She interacted well with the crowd during much of her opening set. von Hagen is a seasoned veteran and it shows.

Darrin Rose

The first “headliner” of the two proclaimed headliners Darrin Rose, a star of Video on Trial and NBC’s Last Comic Standing, which the crowd seems to embrace right from the get go. Rose, with his laid back attitude certainly seems to enjoy partying all the time. He must have mentioned partying in his set at least one hundred times. Rose had the crowd laughing right from the beginning of his set. His nice beard, nice trendy clothes and gold chain around his neck really seemed to make an impact with the young ladies in the crowd. His interactions with the crowd were fantastic. His style was different. Sometimes naughty while still keeping it clean all at the same time. The crowd enjoyed it very much.


When Eddie Della Siepe walked on stage with slick greasy hair and his 4 foot 9 frame the audience seemed a little reluctant to laugh. They were not sure what to expect. The first couple of minutes of his set were touch and go. But five minutes into his set, something changed. He became a fabulous comedy force to be reckoned wiht. He was fabulous and the audience really embraced his boyish charm. Siepe has a knack of making the audience feel they are all part of the jokes.

All in all, a good show with a solid talent, everyone walks away with money well worth the show. Definiately a “WHAT TO WATCH” for Valentine’s weekend, and a special showing on Valentine’s Day.

To reserve tickets contact 613-236-5266 and be sure to say JH5 sent you!

Skip Phillips, contributing blogger

Absolute Comedy Review: February 10, 2011

COMEDY REVIEW Feb 10, 2011

As always, Absolute Comedy is packed and the young audience is buzzing with anticipation. The lights flash on, the Eminem song stops and the feisty MC, Pierre Brault starts his ramblings. Brault did some top notch warming up, although the crowd was already pretty interactive. He spoke to the group of people that were going to Antarctica for some reason, and referred back to that country various times throughout his set. He spoke to the drunken girls, and even spoke to the girl in the front row who was not aware that comedy etiquette involves NOT texting throughout the entire show.

Pierre Brault then brought to the stage Jeff Schouela, and the audience is confused why a professional comedian acted so nervous. Maybe it’s just his stage persona? Or maybe he knew that –apart from his abbreviation jokes- a lot of his bits didn’t work for this audience. While some of his dirtier jokes did very well, I’m sure he’s had better shows.

The host popped back onto the stage, and at this point has started look like a garden gnome on cocaine (This is a big compliment. Gnomes are hilarious.). He describes how the Americans at customs pronounce his name; it was exceptionally funny and the crowd could not have agreed more.

Headliner time! The moment Derick Lengwenus walked onto the stage, everyone loved him. He propositioned a couple for a threesome, and his endearing personality made it acceptable for him to verbally destroy the texting girl in the front row. About half-way through his set, he did an impression of the female reproductive system. Describing it would not do it justice. He ended his set with a very original Christopher Walken impression, then proceeded to make amends with Texty McFrontRow by giving her his CD for free.

Overall a great night, and definitely a WHAT TO WATCH for this weekend. To make your reservations call 613-233-8000.

Sophie Buddle, Contributing Reviewer