The Underground Comedy Railroad will hit the road with Black comedians from across Canada on a five-city stand-up comedy tour. It is the first time in its eleven-year history that it will make its way to this part of the country, with two shows kicking off the tour at the Darkside Comedy Club in Dartmouth.
You are not going to see this collection of comics together on stage anywhere else. And it’s uniquely Canadian too. – Rodney Ramsey
Created by comedians Rodney Ramsey and Daniel Woodrow in 2012, the tour was born out of a Montreal show where Ramsey found himself on the same bill as two other Black comics.
“I realized it was the first time in ten years as a comic that I was part of a regular show with two other Black people who were the only people in the show,” says Ramsey. “I began thinking, why doesn’t this ever happen? And when I realized there was no cross-country tour like that in existence I knew there was an opportunity.”
Gathering some of his fellow comedians who didn’t have access to the mainstream comedy clubs in Canada, the idea for the tour was born, and it has since travelled the country during Black History/African Heritage Month in February.
The tour also spawned The Unknown Comedy Club, an online comedy club that broadcasts interactive virtual stand-up comedy and corporate team-building experiences. Run by Ramsey and Woodrow, The Unknown Comedy Club has allowed them to engage comics with whom they would not otherwise have an opportunity to work.
“Every year, we had problems booking comics that we love and hang with all the time because there’s this anti-competition problem with comedy clubs,” explains Ramsey. “With the virtual club, though, we could work with them online.”
Despite continuing to build their online presence, Ramsey says nothing can entirely replace the live aspect of comedy for comedians. That is why they take The Underground Comedy Railroad on tour each year.
“Virtual reality comes a really close second, but there is always a lag online,” he says. “There is that split second that takes your joke to get to the audience, and then the audience laughs. In real life, you get the response right away. Nothing beats that.”
Working with local comedian Travis Lindsay, the tour stop in Halifax will feature Ramsey and Woodrow alongside comedians Kevin Christopher, Tamara Shevon, George Rivard, Alan Shane Lewis, and Keesha Brownie. It will welcome special guests Travis Lindsay, Evan Carter, Zabrina Douglas, and Cedric Newman during its Dartmouth stop.
“You are not going to see this collection of comics together on stage anywhere else,” says Ramsey. “And it’s uniquely Canadian too.”
The Underground Comedy Railroad plays the Darkside Comedy Club at the DoubleTree by Hilton Halifax Dartmouth (101 Wyse Rd, Dartmouth) on February 3 & 4. Visit comedyrailroad.com for tickets and information.