What started as a few laughs on a houseboat, expanded to an Okanagan-wide comedy festival that is now in its fifth year.
“I don’t want to sound arrogant, but I would put the lineup of this festival up against almost any other festival in the country. And I say that with humility because we were able to secure (the lineup) we have,” said co-organizer Lars Callieou.
The Okanagan Comedy Festival runs through to Aug. 26 and spans Penticton, Kelowna and Vernon. Headliners include Sirius Radio host and former Masterchef Canada contestant Ben Miner, Tim Nutt and more.
Callieou, the festival founder, is also one of the headliners and is proud to say the lineup reflects how much he cares about the festival.
“The lineup is all people that I’ve worked with and that I’m fond of personally. When I started the festival five years ago, I picked people that I was fond of, who were funny and who were also really good people,” said Callieou.
The festival has been “taken to the next level,” according to Callieou, over the past two years with the help of fellow co-organizer Robert Gallant.
“I (first) ran the festival with the help of David Kopp, who owns Dakota’s Sports Bar & Grill in Kelowna … so we used his venue as the main room as the comedy festival. And after three years I realized I was in way over my head,” said Callieou.
This is when Callieou, along with Nutt and other comedians, reached out to Gallant, who was the general manager of the Hubcap Comedy Festival in Moncton, N.B., at the time.
“They were slowly building something here and decided that they wanted to turn it into a full-blown arts and cultural comedy fest,” said Gallant. “So they gave me a call to come out and it wasn’t hard to twist my arm with the Okanagan in the summer time and the wineries, so I said I was in.”
Friday’s show in Penticton takes place at Red Rooster Winery and features local comedian Matt Billon, along with Matt Mellon, Elisia Snyder, Steve Schultz and Nutt.
On Saturday, the comedians (James Moore, Danny Martinello, Ryan Short and Callieou) will fill Red Rooster Winery again with laughs. Craft Corner Kitchen is the second location with comics Mellon, Miklos Blackshaw, Mike McGuire, Norm Shaw and Billon performing.
For more information about the Okanagan Comedy Festival, visit www.okanagancomedyfestival.ca. Tickets are $15 each and can be purchased on their website (online sales close one hour before the show) or at the venues.
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Jordyn Thomson | Reporter
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