Katie Burrell has taken her stand-up from the small stage of Revelstoke to the lights of Vancouver. This weekend she’s performing in the third annual Stoke FM comedy fest, so we asked her to write about her experience in the big city.
By Katie Burrell, Special to the Review
Note: The video above contains adult language. Viewer discretion is advised.
Being a comedian in Revelstoke was less “big fish in a small pond” and more “weird fish in the wrong pond.”
I moved to Vancouver four months ago, after coming to terms with the fact that this little mountain town might not ever have the scene I needed to get better at an art form I’ve always been drawn to. Maybe there was a part of me that was hiding out in Revelstoke, following a “Plan B” dream of playing in nature, instead of pursuing “Plan A” of performance, creativity, and whatever that might lead to (Botox and handbags). It’s easier to fail at your Plan B than it is to fail at your Plan A (sometimes even to admit to yourself what your Plan A is), and there was a lot of that going on as I took 10 minute breathers half way up sub peak while everyone else seemed to float up it.
Sure, I could do one stand up show a year and capitalize on every inside joke that being a part of a small community set me up for, and yes, I could riff about foreign politics and local drama on the morning show at Stoke FM, but I knew that I wasn’t truly improving, because I wasn’t being pushed.
Getting out of your comfort zone is the worst. To quote some of the local athletes I tried to survive hanging out with over the years, it’s “Type 2” fun. What I’m doing in Vancouver right now is just that. I’m being pushed. I have no advantage there, I have lots of competition, I fear judgment, I’m scared a lot of the time — but I have this funny feeling that I’m going to look back on this period of my life and think, wow, that was fun, because learning feels good. I also never walk on stage and think to myself, “I may die here,” so at the very least Revelstoke gave me perspective on fear.
I did a lot of growing up in Revelstoke: I learned about work ethic, kindness, my pain tolerance levels, living with grace, looking after yourself, income tax strategy, how to remain calm in terrifying situations. That stuff has come with me to the city. For example, to look like less of a wildebeest at work, I cut my hair and got a shellac manicure. On day three of the mani, my bike chain fell off and I wrestled it back on, showing up to my office covered in grease, looking like a bicycle murderer, but with my mani intact.
Two weeks later I peeled the somewhat darkened polish off with a flathead screwdriver, because I own one of those, but not a “manicure stick” (a real thing). My colleague referred to me as having a “hearty soul,” and I did not hear that as “butch.” Because the biggest thing that I learned in Revelstoke was about being true to yourself and listening to your gut. There’s no such thing as right or wrong when it comes to making life decisions, but your gut is usually spot on.
Outdoor action sports photographer jokes don’t hit as hard in Vancouver as they did at the Big Eddy Pub, but grocery store jokes do. The Stoke FM comedy festival has a hilarious amount of traction in the city. Comedians I can’t even believe I’ve shared the stage with think it’s a totally legit show. Someday, I hope to be known as the grocery store comedian. Then I can say, my roots are in Cooper’s, and it’s really just a miracle that I’m not in jail for how many dried mangoes I sneakily ate in the bulk bin aisle.
When you’re in the right pond, it doesn’t matter what size of fish you are. You’re just happy to swim around.
The Stoke FM Comedy Fest takes place this Saturday, Aug. 29, at the Revelstoke Legion Hall. It features Ivan Decker, Ryan Williams, Mitchell Scott, Rupert Common, Katie Burrell and Alex Sparling. Tickets are $20, available in advance at Skookum and online at StokeFM.com. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the show starts at 8 p.m. Bring a donation to the food bank and get a free drink. The show is 19+.