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Butler tackles B.C. topics with satire


‘We have the power to make whatever we decide we want to happen, happen’

By Kara-Leah Grant

Who: Todd Butler

Where: MY Place

When: Friday, Nov. 1

It ain’t easy being funny, but Todd Butler doesn’t have to try too hard.

After decades on the entertainment circuit, Butler is still churning out satirical songs and comedy routines to very receptive audiences. Described as a razor wit and one of the most dynamic, innovative and talented performers in Canada, Butler is a regular writer and performer on CBC radio and has just written some songs for This Hour Has 22 Minutes. If the audience likes the songs when they air in November, he can add a regular writing gig for the show to his already busy roster.

"I am driven to do this because well… I don’t know why but I can’t stop this from happening," says Butler from his home in Courteney, B.C.

"One of my life long goals is to become a good guitarist and I have practised hard and long for 30 years and I think I have achieved a fairly high level of playing. But despite all my wanting to be a guitarist, when I get up in the morning, invariably I am writing some kind of satirical comedy song in my head without even trying. I watch the news and something pops into my head and off I go. It comes of its own accord."

Butler has often performed in Whistler, both at the Whistler Street Festival and for numerous corporate functions. He tailors his shows for the location and political leanings of his audience, but his underlying theme tends to remain the same.

"The underlying thread through much of my material is that people in general are sleeping as the world is rolling over them and completely controlling their lives," Butler said. "People need to wake up and look around and just realize how they are getting screwed because collectively as the voters in a democracy we have the power to make whatever we decide we want to happen, happen."

Butler says he intends to cover topics B.C. people are familiar with when he performs in Whistler on Nov. 1.

"I’m performing with my trio so it’s a satirical comedy show but it’s also musical," said Butler. "I’m going to make fun of things that people in B.C. are familiar with, ferries, Starbucks, the Olympics, the Sea to sky Highway, Gordon Campbell, the federal government, health care…"

But every audience is different and if there’s one thing Butler has learned in his years on the stage, it’s how to read an audience.

"You can tell right away if it’s working, especially in comedy. If they laugh hard at one thing then I know that is the direction I can go and I have all the other material that fits into that category and it instantly becomes ‘yes that will work’," said Butler.

"It’s the same with stuff that doesn’t work. If a joke bombs then I can gauge at that point that I have gone too far or touching on a subject this crowd doesn’t really care about."

Butler says he likes the different energy performing with his trio brings to the stage show.

"It’s a more musical show with my trio. I have Vince Ditrich on drums and Lee Oliphant on bass guitar," said Butler. "It gives us the chance to improvise and solo. Vince also sings, which adds another flavour to the vocals. Plus if you’re performing by yourself and a joke bombs, you’re standing there naked in front of the world in front of a fish hook and it can be horrifying."

Butler is really looking forward to performing in Whistler.

"The community concerts are the most fun because we do music and comedy and in the concert situation you can really connect with the crowd and everyone feels we’re having a good time together."

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