Okanagan comedian hopes to expand stand-up scene in Penticton

Stand-up scene expanding

An Okanagan comedian is hoping to break down barriers for comics looking to break into the stand-up scene in Penticton.

Andrew Verge is launching a series of open mic nights at Slackwater Brewing through his company Comedy on the Verge, running every other Wednesday for the next few months.

"I've been doing shows around Penticton for probably about five years or so," Verge said.

"They reached out to me and said, what about a comedy open mic? And I thought yeah, let's try it out."

Verge said he had noticed that Penticton has options for musical open mic nights, but not so much for comedy. The nearest options are, at least recently, in Kelowna.

Verge decided to try and change that, and hopes that aspiring comics will find their footing.

"When I started comedy, I was doing four open mics a week just to try to see how I could do and get better and save time. And I would drive to Kelowna on Tuesdays and Kamloops on Wednesdays, Kelowna on Thursdays," Verge said.

"It's not like guitar or something where you can practice in front of the mirror, you need an actual crowd to try out jokes and see if they work. And so that's what an open mic is great for."

The open mic nights will be open to anyone, both to attend and watch or to come and try out their comedy on stage.

Verge said the atmosphere will be open and inclusive of anyone trying out their material.

"I'm trying to build a little community," Verge said.

"My idea is to be like, everybody's welcome. You can try it out. Also, if you want any kind of tips or anything like that, we'll always want to offer encouragement. Because sometimes the hardest thing is just to try to a find the space to get up and just have the courage to try it out, and it is quite vulnerable to do."

The open mic pilot project at Slackwater starts tonight, Feb. 21, from 7 to 9 p.m. Every open mic comedian will get at least five minutes to try out their craft, plus there will be professionals doing full sets.

It is free to attend, and will run every other Wednesday until April 4.

Verge hopes the event will attract both comedy fans interested in seeing some up-and-coming local talent, and anyone interested in dipping their toes into performing.

"Just come out and have a beer and watch, or try to tell some jokes!"

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