From the rooftop deck of their apartment building to a skate park and baseball diamond at the Halifax Common, local comedians and roommates Durham Laporte and Brandon Michael have been keeping busy producing comedy shows around town in some unlikely places.
“We started doing shows around the city when only outdoor options were allowed,” says Laporte. “We started at a skate park, and that branched out when we found a good spot at The Commons, and we just kept it there.”
With the duo’s fifth open mic show Comedy @ The Commons at the baseball diamond near Robie Street and Quinpool Road set for September 7, they believe they can eke out another couple of the weekly shows before the weather makes it impossible to continue outside.
“Hopefully, I can find an indoor space that can continue it throughout the winter,” says Michael, who, along with Laporte, will be keeping busy regardless with several shows in the coming weeks.
The first of their other shows will be In Laughing Colour. An homage to the Wayans family sketch comedy show that aired for five seasons on television in the early 1990s, the show is set for September 15 at The Narrows inside the DoubleTree hotel in Halifax.
“There’s only going to be one white comic who will host, but the rest will be a very diverse lineup of the best comics that we can get, including some from out of town who are visiting,” says Laporte.
Then on September 22, Michael and Laporte move to Serpent Brewing in Spryfield, featuring the writers from the CBC television comedy show This Hour Has 22 Minutes.
“A few of them were here last summer when we were starting to produce a lot of shows at that time,” says Michael. “We made the connections and have been able to build a bit of a relationship with them when they realized our shows were legit.”
At the end of September, the two will team up with fellow comic Kyle Barnet for four shows in four days, beginning at The Dart Gallery in Dartmouth.
Much of Michael and Laporte’s success over the past year has been establishing credibility with other comics. It can be traced to their love for the genre going back to their teen years.
For Laporte, it came from wanting to make people laugh at high school.
“I was one of those guys who always liked talking in front of the whole school for events,” he says. “And I’ve always thought I was funny, and sometimes it actually feels like I am funny, although with stand up sometimes you’ll have a night where you feel like you’re not funny at all.”
For Michael, his first foray on the comedy stage came when he had to obtain a special permit to perform at Yuk Yuks at age fifteen.
“It was kind of a hassle, so I only did it twice and then the week after I graduated from university I started full time,” he says.
But while Michael didn’t get serious about being funny until after graduation, it was both a coping mechanism and growing up in a funny household that initially set him on his path.
“I was born in Montreal and then moved out to Alberta and then to Nova Scotia, and because I moved around a lot the way I tried to make friends is by joking around a lot,” he says. “And I grew up in a household where everyone was funny and where there was ever only comedies on the tv.”
Now finding their comedy stride in Halifax, the duo says their success together has come by offering something a little different.
“The thing about our shows is that they’re some of the more unique comedy experiences you’ll get in the city,” says Michael. “I sometimes think at an independent show you can see comics try something a little bit different, or go on a little bit of a strange route, which can be fun because there’s less pressure in a lot of instances on the topics.”
“In a club or an open mic as an audience member, you’re mostly going to get a similar product each time,” adds Laporte. “But with almost every show you come to of ours will be a whole different experience.”