The Underground Comedy Railroad will hit the road once again with Black comedians from across Canada on another five-city stand-up comedy tour, including two shows in Halifax on February 10 at Pickford & Black.
From our January 2023 interview with co-creator Rodney Ramsey, we find out more.
Created by Ramsey and fellow Canadian 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.”
As part of the 2024 tour, The Underground Comedy Railroad will record their second comedy album in Toronto, with a compilation of the hottest sets from featured comedians who have been with the tour since the beginning. The album will be released on Juneteenth 2024.
The tour stop in Halifax will feature Woodrow and Ramsey alongside Keesha Brownie, Tamara Shevon and special guest Travis Lindsay.
“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 two shows at Pickford & Black (1869 Upper Water St, Halifax) on February 10. Visit comedyrailroad.com for tickets and information.