Todd Barry photo (c) Punchline Magazine

by Matthew Stefanson

Sled Island Report, Thursday June 21. Comedy night.

Beer in Alberta is plentiful and cheap. I always forget that fact, and sometimes it interferes with the proper fulfillment of one’s duties, such as when one realizes they are supposed to be interviewing comedians in half an hour, have just ordered another pint and are at least a 20 minute walk from the venue. Beer also makes one relentlessly determined, so after arriving only twenty minutes late I was luckily still ten minutes ahead of the show.

Sled Island’s comedy portion has featured some great names in the past. On the very first year that they included comedy they somehow snagged Fred Armissen, and last year Neil Hamburger was attacked with a glass during his set. Hopefully it doesn’t happen again when I see him tonight, but god I hope it does. This year the big names include Todd Barry, the man who made “The Doggie Bounce” into America’s favourite dance craze. The aforementioned Neil Hamburger is performing as well, but the festival also features some home-grown talent.

On the bill at the Auburn Saloon Thursday, three calgary natives were slated to perform. Ryan Kukec, the host of Sled Island’s comedy section for the second year in a row returned from his new home of Toronto to warm up the room for Calgary based and chronically “local” comedian Chris Gordon. Graham Clark, Vancouver-based comedian and podcaster on the Maximum Fun network, also returned to his hometown to perform a great set.

The comedy aspect of the festival may seem like a bonus to most of the attendees, but for me it was a once in a blue moon chance to see some of my favourite comedians. Especially coming from a place like Saskatoon where comedians are much less likely to stop by, seeing Todd Barry do an hour is something that a comedy fan can’t pass up. As the festival continues, the comics it can book should become even more impressive, especially if they can keep the attendance at the level that it is.

Check out my interview with Stop Podcasting Yourself’s Graham Clark and “still local” comedian Chris Gordon here.

Oh and I also saw an amazing group called Prince Rama at Broken City later in the night that a couple of locals helpfully described to me as “a couple of smelly Brooklyn hippie chicks” [quote cleaned up for publication]. Thanks, Calgary.