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How may I direct your comedy?

Last Comic Standing’s top 10 finalist headlines WinterPride Comedy Night



What: WinterPride Comedy Night

When: Wednesday, Feb. 6, 8 p.m.

Where: MY Millennium Place

Tickets: $35

By Nicole Fitzgerald

Who knew working as a switchboard operator for CityTV in Toronto would later lead to the Canada’s Best Female Comedian award at the 2007 Canadian Comedy Awards as well as becoming at top-10 finalist for NBC’s Last Comic Standing television show?

Debra DiGiovanni’s witty storytelling was lost between “I’ll connect you” and “what department please?”, when suddenly she found herself giving public tours of the station. Only instead of the dry lines penned in her employee handbook, her own performance started unleashing itself on visitors. People started laughing. She was a comedienne.

“The number one fear people have is speaking in front of an audience, and when it’s not, you like it immediately,” DiGiovanni said.

DiGiovanni will headline WinterPride Queerly Canadian Comedy Show on Wednesday, Feb. 6 from 8 to 11 p.m. at the Telus Whistler Conference Centre.

WinterPride, running from Feb. 3 to 10, revolutionizes the traditional gay ski week format with sporting, culinary, health, and wellness, and entertainment events all week long. People from all walks of life – straight, gay and lesbian alike – are invited to celebrate this colourful festival.

Highlights are the snowball party, mountain top gala, après and spa parties, and Comedy Night – always a local favourite.

“We get to be the real queens of comedy,” DiGiovanni said. “What’s so nice about (doing gay shows) is the diversity of it. Nothing is ever too specific when you have a broad audience from all walks of life… It’s like minded people, not in the narrow minded way, who really make you feel welcome, so the show has a tendency to be more fun with lots of energy.”

DiGiovanni is never short on charisma. Her playful but sharp-edged show has earned reviews that have praised her as one of the best-developed comics working today.

Toronto’s Now Magazine raved: “Debra DiGiovanni is the best stand up to see after a messy break up.”

She was also awarded as one of the top three Comedy Performance of the Year.

Over her eight years holding a mic, she has also won the Tim Sims Comedy Encouragement Award and Canadian Comedy Award for Best Newcomer, among other accolades. She toured with Canadian comedy king Russell Peters and has performed at the Just For Laughs festival in Montreal, CTV’s Comedy Now, CBC radio, and most recently Last Comic Standing.

“That was surreal experiment,” she said of the reality television show that films ten comedians duking it out with their best rubber chicken jokes to become the Last Comic Standing.

“It was a lovely opportunity to perform comedy in that huge spectrum. Every once in a while, you are saying to yourself I am on a reality show, right. It’s all very wonderful, and then you are being told, today you are wearing a jester costume;’ now I can laugh about it, but in the moment I wasn’t.”

The 24-7 experience was fast and furious, and finally, two weeks later, she was able to breathe a sigh of relief, just in time to win Canada’s Best Female Comedian at the 2007 Canadian Comedy Awards.

“It was really nice, now I know it sounds corny. It was really nice to be voted amongst my peers and getting kudos among people (in the business).”

It’s this down-to-earth, sincerity that makes DiGiovanni’s stand up so well rounded and far-reaching. It’s the personal stories in her hilarity that everyone can relate to.

“I’m very honest,” she said of her comedy. “It’s very personal. I think all comedy is personal. Some people tell jokes. Mine are things that have happened to me, or in remnants of the joke there is truth. Comedy is obviously the truth multiplied a thousand times.”

Her long-time friend and fellow comedian Darcy Michael will open for this anticipated night of over the top Queerly Canadian comedy. He also brings a personal touch to his edgy delivery and is best known for his tales of “life as an undercover fag” riffing on his same-sex marriage, and tales about being an “accidental parent”.

“Comedy is a tough genre to reach a diverse audience, but we feel these two individuals will create a magic that will transcend generations, lifestyles and genre,” said WinterPride organizers.

Tickets are $35.

To learn more about WinterPride events, visit www.gaywhistler.com.