Cultivating comedy: Two local comedians hope to have Usask bursting at the seams

By in Culture

Since November of 2017, the University of Saskatchewan has been a lot funnier thanks to an open mic comedy night at Louis’ Pub. Occurring sporadically on Thursdays in the pub, Campus Comedy is a project brought together by brothers Dustin and Dylan Williamson with the help of USask Improv. 

For Dylan Williamson — who is an active member of Saskatoon’s comedy scene — the U of S comedy night is meant to reach a younger crowd who otherwise may not experience stand-up.

“Campus Comedy is an attempt to get more young people trying stand-up,” Dylan said, in an email to the Sheaf. “We have only one comic who comes regularly and attends [the U of S], and he’s around 30 and doing his master’s.”

Despite the lack of student stand-up performers, this move to have a comedy night on campus indicates that the scene is growing. According to Dylan, the Saskatoon comedy scene has come a long way in the nearly seven years that he has been performing stand-up.

“I started doing comedy six and a half years ago, and there was only one weekly room that people could try stand-up in,” Dylan said. “It was run by local comic Dez Reed at venues like Beily’s, and then it moved to the basement of Joe Dog’s.”

However, the growth of Saskatoon’s stand-up scene has been a long time coming. In April 2013, Dylan immersed himself in Vancouver’s alternative-comedy scene. Upon his return, he realized that Saskatoon’s local scene had a lot to do to catch up.

So, the Williamson brothers started several open mic nights, including the Comedy Lab at the Thirsty Scholar. For Dustin, their work has been paying off.

“We have roughly 30 comics that come to at least a show every two weeks and a bunch that come less frequently,” Dustin said, in an email to the Sheaf. “The comedy scene is booming, and it is really exciting to see.”

Throughout the growth of the comedy scene in Saskatoon, the Williamson brothers have worked to keep the scene diverse.

“Back in 2012, there were roughly a dozen comedians that were trying comedy — none of which were women,” Dylan said.

Since then, Dylan and Dustin  have helped with the female-only Women Crush Wednesdays shows at the Belvedere Treehouse in O’Brians Event Centre. They have also been featured in the Indigenous comedy stage show Cards Against Colonialism as the Token White Settlers.

Campus Comedy is a great place for aspiring comics to practice their chops, as the audience is primarily made up of student peers. For those who are interested in trying their hand at stand-up but are worried about the horror of no one laughing, Dylan has some sound advice.

“Bombing is inevitable, no matter how seasoned a performer you are,” Dylan said. “A lot of new comics don’t know how to bomb with grace. They get flustered, panic and start blaming the audience, or they get angry. It is not their fault that they don’t like you. All you can do is keep your chin up, thank them for their time and try [to] learn from the set.”

Campus Comedy entertains audiences at Louis’ every second Thursday, with the next show set for 8 p.m. on March 1. Cover is $5 for attendees and free for performers. To find out more, head over to Campus Comedy’s Facebook page.

Jordan Stovra

Graphic: Laura Underwood / Layout Manager