When I asked comedian Erica Sigurdson to describe her style in five words or less, it took her two seconds to reply: “Sugar coated razor blade,” she said.
Raised in Vancouver, Sigurdson dreamed of becoming a standup comic since the age of six.
“The first time I ever saw a stand-up comic was on Johnny Carson,” she told me. “I didn’t quite understand what he was doing, because as a kid when you watch someone perform on TV they would dance and sing, but he was just standing there, talking.”
When her Dad started laughing she began to understand what was going on — he’s telling jokes and making people laugh. She decided then that it was her jokes she wanted people to be laughing at.
She never told anyone that dream until she was a 24-year-old manager at McDonald’s. “There was a kid working there that died in a car accident. He was so young. It’s such a cliché story, but I realized that life is short and if I want to try and be a comedian I better start now.” Living in Surrey at the time, she moved to downtown Vancouver to be closer to the comedy scene and just kept doing shows until someone finally paid her.
Now one of Canada’s top comics, Sigurdson has been working in comedy since 2000. Some of her biggest accomplishments include being on Just For Laughs, writing for the first season of Mr. D, winning a Leo award for writing, and being a guest on CBC’s The Debaters many times.
This Thursday, Nov. 26, she is headlining at the Revelstoke Performing Arts Centre as part of an all-female comedy show.
What I was most curious about though, was her trip to Afghanistan in 2006 when she joined comedians Shaun Majumder, Mark Critch (from This Hour Has 22 Minutes), the late Irwin Barker, and Tim Nutt on a mission to entertain the troops for a CBC TV special called Standup In Kandahar. I asked her if she had any near death experiences.
“Well, funny you should ask, but there were three rocket attacks during the show,” she told me. “I heard a soldier yell, ‘Hit the ground!” Well I didn’t, and ran back inside the show tent, which is NOT what you are supposed to do during a rocket attack. We had been trained for moments like this. Not that it mattered though, because I forgot all of my training in that moment of panic.”
The show went on, and the best part (other than not dying), was that she managed to still perform under the stress of possibly dying.
I asked if she ever had an epic battle with a heckler at a show: “Well, the rocket attack was probably the worst heckle ever.” She went on to explain that people who heckle aren’t the worst, it’s people who talk amongst themselves in the front row that are because it interrupts the comic’s train of thought. During one show with a gender-balanced lineup, a group of guys in the front were completely dismissive when a female took the stage, and would talk amongst themselves. Sigurdson took the stage, got their attention by grabbing one of their drinks and holding it above her head: “Oh! So now you know I’m here. You guys have been incredibly rude. Get out!”
On Thursday, Sigurdson headlines the all-female Ha Ha Harem comedy show. Joining her are Katie Burrell (a former Revelstokian who left us for the promise of fame and fortune in the big city), and Katie-Ellen Humphries, with whom she regularly performs in Vancouver.
She’s looking forward to the opportunity to perform in Revelstoke with these hilarious women. “When I started doing comedy, I didn’t do all-ladies shows because I felt like I was funny to everyone — which is true,” she said. “However, you can’t ignore the fact that there is something very powerful about the connectivity of a group of women celebrating what it is to be a woman. I think we used to be apologetic about that in the late ’90’s and early 2000’s, but we are strong, powerful, beings, and we should go out and have fun. Sure, there will be jokes that relate more to females and males, but it’s still going to be a crazy fun night.”
Tickets and showtime are available at www.revelstokeperformingartscentre.com.