There was a 40-person deep lineup outside and a packed house inside the Cinnamon Bear Bar as the finalists for Whistler's first amateur comedy competition took to the stage on Sunday, Nov. 3.
Eventual winner Kyle Killeen had the audience's undivided attention from the moment he told them he hadn't seen a room that packed since he tried on the jeans he wore in high school.
The new homeowner, he told the crowd he'd just bought a van, upholds a grand Whistler tradition by working at two jobs — delivering Domino's Pizza and sorting bottles at the resort's recycling depot at Nesters.
For taking first place, Killeen won a day's worth of cat skiing for two and an upcoming stand-up gig at Maxx Fish on Nov. 10.
In an interview the following day, a happy but hungover Killeen said the final was about the tenth time he had gotten up on stage.
"I never thought jokes about dicks and pizza could get me a cat skiing trip!" he said.
His comedy material comes from the hard knocks of living in a pricey resort, but like many people he wants to stay and hit the slopes.
"There's such expensive rent and food costs. During the summer I worked two full-time jobs so that I would have more time in the winter to snowboard every day," Killeen said. "There are non-stop characters at both jobs."
The Ottawa native moved to Whistler in December of last year.
"I would go to an open mic night at Yuk Yuk's or Absolute Comedy in Ottawa," he said.
Killeen hopes to work as a writer-director-producer on his own comedy series.
"I guess I got into the stand-up to get me writing, because I am a bit of a procrastinator," he said. "It's been going better as of late so I think I might start giving it a shot."
He would like to see Whistler develop its comedy offerings.
"As a tourist destination town it could be done. Everyone likes to have a good laugh, so I think it would be good if there was a consistent comedy night somewhere in Whistler once a week because there are tons of funny people up here."
Going by the stand-up routines, certain themes about Whistler emerge: Australians; cocaine; Australians and cocaine; French Canadians being happy to share 10 to a room; sexual wishful thinking, sexual boasting, sexual failures and oral sex (lots of oral sex). Perhaps inevitably, STDs were also a popular topic.
Roaring into second place in the competition was Tara O'Doherty, with jokes about the challenges of a girl-boy relationship where one partner happens to be a committed drinking Irishwoman and the other happens to be a parsimonious Scotsman who doesn't want to pay for getting her hammered. O'Doherty won tickets to a Vancouver Canucks game.
Third place went to wildcard entry Emily McDonell, who got big laughs for stating that "A bad day in Whistler is better than a good day in Toronto" and adding that she'd recently won the Purebread Bakery's 30-day muffin-top challenge with a body type of "popcorn."
The other finalists were Geoff Swan, (Pique's own) Brandon Barrett, Derek Mendonca, Jack Punshon and Emily Wood.
Judges were Pique writer Michel Beaudry, actress Angie Nolan, comedian Jimmy Mitchell and Louise Robinson of The Cinnamon Bear Bar. Emcee was comedian Megan Fullerton.
Many of the participants first took part in a stand-up training series offered at Millennium Place by LB Productions. All of the finalists had to battle it out on stage at one of three earlier stand-up nights at the Cinnamon Bear, located in the Hilton Hotel.
Co-organizer Anita Burleson of LB Productions said the success of the event might lead to another training session soon as well as another series at the Cinnamon Bear.
"The turnout continued to grow. The first night it was almost full. The second night was standing room only and the third night you had to get a table an hour early. At the final, you had to show up at 5:30 p.m. to get a table for the 8 p.m. show," she said.
The show ended with a set each by Australia/Whistler's Mitchell and Squamish's Kelly Dyer.