Comedy in Kelowna

Comedy in Kelowna. Ok lets start  this column with a little K-town comedy history. You really can't talk about comedy in Kelowna without starting with Herb Dixon. He's been doing comedy throughout the valley and North America for over 32 years and it was the Snickers Comedy Club in the Sandman that was the home to our first comedy show in Kelowna. Started in 1988  the club really got going by 1993 when it moved to two shows each weekend hosted by a guest or Herb Dixon. The show would eventually wind down in 2003 as Herb got busier on the road it made it tough to ensure the quality of the local show was up to the standards he wanted to see.
Before the Snickers Comedy Club wrapped up there was also a large effort in 2000 and 2001 to found a Comedy Festival in the summer. From what I could tell the first year went really well with over 6000 attendees reported. Unfortunately even the $50K from the City of Kelowna (over two years) didn't help ensure that the Festival lasted beyond its second year. Whether it was the wrong time of year or just bad luck I can't find much info on the reasons for its cancellation but now that a decade has passed perhaps its time to take another look at the Comedy Festival concept in Kelowna. What do you think?
After the comedy festival and Snickers Comedy Club had ran their course a Yuk Yuks show was launched in Angies. Eventually Angies shut down around 2010 and Yuk Yuks disappeared locally along with it. Interestingly a new comic at the time, Rob Balsdon had just launched his new comedy show, Train Wreck Comedy literally two months before Yuk Yuks closed down. Originally intended as an open mic the closing of Yuk Yuks presented an opportunity for the new comedic endeavor to expand almost immediately into booking larger acts touring through town.
More than four years later Train Wreck Comedy is going strong and hosts monthly shows at O'Flannigans and Lake City Casino. I caught up with Rob Balsdon to talk about all things related to comedy in Kelowna.

The next show at Lake City Casino's (Friday, March 28th) is most likely sold out so here is the info on next month shows
In chatting with Herb Dixon about this story it was interesting to hear him talk about some of his first times working with Rob. I'll refer to it as that invisible moment where the "torch was passed" but that's just my twist on the tale. Herb was inviited to open a big show with Norm McDonald in Kelowna but he had to turn down the opportunity. He suggested that they instead hire one of Kelowna's newer acts, Rob Balsdon. The rest is history.
One of my favorite ideas that Rob worked on last year alongside Keynote productions was the Halloween Howler at the Kelowna Communtiy Theatre. From what I hear its back on for 2014 so its great to see the appetite for the art of comedy in Kelowna grow. So is it maybe time that Kelowna take another look at the concept of a Comedy Festival? Do we have what it takes to make it successful?

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About the Author

Ryan Donn is a singer/songwriter, event producer, digital creative, and Councillor at the City of Kelowna

I love creating songs, which have been used by the Terry Fox Run, Kelowna’s Centennial Celebration, or heard on various local radio stations. 

In the past few years, I've focused on creating community events including Music in the Park, New York New Years, Castanet’s Free Family Skate, Talented Kids, Talented Kelowna, and others.

Originally from Scotland, I’ve lived in Kelowna for over 20 years. My wife, Kimberly, and our two daughters, Lyla and Bella, share our home with Tom (adult with diverse abilities).

In 2014, I was elected to Kelowna City Council. 

Opinions are my own, and don't represent the City of Kelowna, Festivals Kelowna or Creative Okanagan. 

To connect with Ryan:

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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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