First of all let me apologize for the delay in getting this out. I generally try to post this thing (I refuse to call it a “blog” because that word sounds like a Klingon sneezing) every Friday. But last Friday I was in Gros Morne National Park in Newfoundland hiking up and down mountains, which is dangerous to do while simultaneously writing. Plus I was taking part in the 2nd annual “Comedy At Woody Point” comedy festival, which takes a while to recover from since I spent the last few days basically moping that I wasn’t still there.
So, what IS “Comedy At Woody Point”?
It is the brainchild of brainy sports journalist, author and all around very good man Stephen Brunt who saw me MC a gala event in Toronto a couple years ago and thought “if this guy can make tuxedoed literature lovers in Toronto laugh, maybe he can make west coast Newfoundlanders laugh too.” So he asked me to put together a small lineup of big talent comedians including 2 with east coast roots and 2 from “away” and see what we could do.
Just pick a few of your funniest comedian friends and be done with it. But it’s not that simple. The comics have to complement each other (and ideally also “compliment” each other) Styles don’t have to be exactly the same but they can’t be so different that the audience laughs at one comic and is stone-faced during another. Also, when spending time together in close quarters in a small town full of salt of the earth people, the most important part of deciding whom to bring to Woody Point is, DON’T BOOK ANY ARSEHOLES!
This is not to say that lots of comedians are arseholes. Over my past two decades in comedy I’m happy to report that the vast majority of comics I’ve worked with are very good people. I can only think of a small handful of arseholes (strange visual there) and I’m not going to name them here because, well, that would be an arsehole move.
Anyway, our first year we ended up luring in east coasters Nikki Payne and Trent McLellan and “come from aways” Derek Seguin and Erica Sigurdson. And all those funny friends of mine did was blow the roof off of the Heritage Theatre in Woody Point so immensely that the waves of laughter may have up ended boats in the nearby ocean (apologies again if you were on a boat around there at the time).
The show was such a success that Mr. Brunt (which is what we call him when we are there because every other man in the area is named ‘Steve’) immediately booked us again this year.
So I set to work (let’s be honest, NANCY set to work) putting together another lineup that could perhaps equal the amazingness of the first. It wasn’t an easy task, but being able to land “come from aways” Dave Hemstad and DeAnne Smith along with hilarious Newfoundlanders Matt Wright and the Duchess of Canadian Comedy herself CATHY JONES made for one helluva show.
Between days spent hiking on trails of the other-worldly Gros Morne countryside, out on the water of Bonne Bay or eating seafood so fresh it jumps out of the water and onto your plate by the time we get to the theatre to do our shows, this experience is unlike any other comedy festival in Canada, or anywhere else that I know of for that matter.
But then the shows start. The audience pours in from the surrounding towns of Norris Point, Rocky Harbour and the relative metropolis of Cornerbrook and you realize that you haven’t heard laughter until you’ve heard real west coast Newfoundlanders (not an oxymoron) laughing. Think of the best sound system you’ve ever heard, multiply by 100 and you approach about half of the appreciative laughter the crowds of Comedy At Woody Point provide. In the midst of some of the most beautiful natural wonders of the world, this laughter provides the perfect soundtrack.
So, a heartfelt thanks to Mr. Brunt, his soleful soul mate (and incredibly patient hostess) Jeanie, Gary, Sharon, Anita and the whole team of “Comedy At Woody Point” for bringing us out again this year. Thanks to my hilarious and tremendous comedian friends for setting a high bar to try and meet every year from now on. Thanks to Steve and Carol at The Galliott House for making my family feel absolutely at home. Thanks to Nancy and Scarlett for coming to share the magic of Woody Point with me and, above all, thanks to all who have attended the festival and laughed their arses off the last 2 years. With your support, we’ve already committed to coming back for year 3 next summer!
And to everyone who has never been to Gros Morne, well, I can’t recommend it enough. UNESCO has recognized it as a World Heritage Site. But I recognize it as something much more important: a picture perfect paradise, full of fresh air and absent of arseholes.