The Dark Side Comedy Club in Dartmouth celebrates Pride Month with two shows from Canadian Comedy Award-winning comedian Kyle Brownrigg on June 3 and 4.
Brownrigg was a natural choice for Dark Side’s Pride festivities as one of the few gay Canadians doing professional stand-up.
“You don’t have a gay male stand-up comedian like Ellen famous or Wanda Sykes famous in Canada,” he says. “And frankly, I think that needs to change, and I think people want to join me on that journey.”
And while he acknowledges homegrown trailblazers like Scott Thompson, the Kids in the Hall member is more closely associated with sketch comedy than stand-up. “He does stand-up, but he was never famous for that,” says Brownrigg.
The upcoming Halifax gigs will also be a personal celebration for Brownrigg, as he marks ten years as a comedian in September and his new CraveTV stand-up special, Introducing Lyle, has just been released.
One of seven original shows recorded at the 2021 Just For Laughs Festival in Montréal, Brownrigg’s 30-minute show introduces audiences to his drunk persona, Lyle.
But while Brownrigg will cover some of the material from his television special in his Halifax shows, he says local audiences can expect a lot more.
“Yes, there will be some repeat material, but it’s good stuff, and there will be a lot of new material too,” he says. “You’ll like it.”
Not the first time the Toronto-based comedian has visited Halifax, Brownrigg has been to the city as part of the Halifax Comedy Festival for four years.
“I was asked back this year, but because of the pandemic, I said no, because they require about 15 minutes of material, but everything has been closed, and we’ve been in lockdown in Ontario,” he says. “How in the world could I produce 15 minutes? Where would I even start?”
With the pandemic now in his rearview mirror, though, Brownrigg is ready to get back on stage with his brand of comedy as an out, gay performer.
“I would definitely say that my sexuality influences my stand-up comedy,” he says. “I remember back in the day, many older generation gay comedians would say things like ‘I’m not a gay comic’.”
Thanks to a seismic shift in the younger generation, Brownrigg finds audiences are more accepting of different comedic perspectives.
I think people are more educated now where there is no longer this sort of laughing at us, but now they are laughing with us. The gay community is also more empowered and there is certainly a difference in the way that gay comics are received now.
“I think people are more educated now where there is no longer this sort of laughing at us, but now they are laughing with us,” he says. “The gay community is also more empowered and there is certainly a difference in the way that gay comics are received now.”
Beginning his career in Ottawa, Brownrigg’s pivot to comedy came after trying his hand in the corporate world.
“I tried working in an office, but let’s just say I don’t mix well with HR,” he laughs. “I’m too blunt and didn’t understand the whole office politics thing.”
A chance meeting with two comedians at an Ottawa art gallery would be the impetus Brownrigg needed to pursue comedy.
“I thought you had to be like a Robin Williams or someone famous to do stand-up comedy,” he says. “But I just kind of got into it and realized that the shoe really fits, and I just kept going.”
But while Ottawa gave Brownrigg a solid base and is a city that started the careers of comedians such as Mike MacDonald, Tom Green, Norm MacDonald and Jon Dore, he knew it would be a move to Toronto that would take his comedy to the next level.
“Ottawa is such a great place to develop and figure out how it works, but Toronto is where you go to have a career,” he says. “The population in Ottawa is too small to support an indie scene for comics, so you need to have a larger population.”
But while he finds himself on the road more than playing clubs in downtown Toronto, Brownrigg recognizes places like Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal are where you need to start a professional comedy career.
“Toronto was a no-brainer but the only way to do that was to get out of Ottawa, start all over again and work my way up the ladder,” he says.
As he gets ready to celebrate ten years as a comedian, coupled with his new CraveTV special and his visit to Halifax and other cities across the country, it’s pretty evident Brownrigg is already at least partway up that ladder now.
The Dark Side Comedy Club presents 2 Days, 1 Love featuring Kyle Brownrigg at the Hilton Halifax Comedy Ballroom (101 Wyse Road, Dartmouth) on June 3 & 4. Visit etix.com for tickets and information.