Summer might be a busy time for musicians, but their black-sheep cousins in comedy are counting down the days till fall.
That is, unless they're Vancouver comic John Beuhler, who has spent his slow season learning to kiteboard in Squamish and enjoying the beach. "I have been doing zero," Beuhler says. "Festivals are a big deal for music and you want to be outside on a patio when it's nice and warm. Comedy goes on inside a club."
He might not have a tour slated for this summer, but Beuhler has been booking one-off shows throughout the dog days of the season, including an upcoming gig in Whistler at the GLC on Aug. 3. He's also been working on new material for a comedy album.
While he's drawn on personal experiences for material (girls, being perpetually broke) in his 15-plus years performing stand up, recently he's turned to a different source. "I'm trying to do more about sociology," he says. "I'm getting my voice, as they call it. Some people are cynical and they'll go on stage and say (adopts mock whiny voice), 'I don't like this' and they do it in a funny way. Or if you're a spinny, ditzy person you have your unique way of being funny. I've been educating myself about sociology and neurology and human behaviours and media and how it affects people. It's not personal right now."
It might sound like heavy stuff for a funny guy, but behind most good comedians there's a lot more going on than meets the eye.
"I don't know about smart; that's a vague term. I think there has to be a psychological sophistication... I think originality is good. I think honesty is important," he says.
To that end, he says recently he admitted to a crowd that he quit dating by choice because it's been detrimental to his career. Finding validation in a relationship meant he didn't need to go out and get it from a crowd.
When they audience expressed doubt, he got real with them: "I definitely said to them, 'No, I don't (date, by choice) because then I don't have the need to come out and entertain you losers.' As soon as I said it I got a round of applause because it was exactly what I was thinking," he says.
By that definition, Beuhler has been seeking validation since the age of 19 when he first began performing stand up. He's won plenty of accolades since then: a Just for Laughs Home Grown Comedy Competition, a finalist placing for the Seattle International Comedy Competition and first place in the Corner Gas Comedy contest where he won $10,000 and a
Corner Gas TV appearance. He's also opened for big names like Martin Short, Zach Galifianakis and Craig Ferguson.
But there's one item on his resume that Beuhler would like to erase and it has a Whistler hook. Back in his early comedy days he agreed to head up the highway to "hang out and do something in Whistler" with a Vancouver producer. "There was no writing," Beuhler recalls. "It was a mockumentary. You can't really do that because people are constantly waving at the camera and stuff like that. There was no budget. It was supposed to be (about) me coming from Pickering, Ont., to learn to snowboard. I had never snowboarded in my life. The guy had no idea what he was doing. It was like one of those things where the guy is like, 'You're a comedian. You're supposed to be funny.'"
Beuhler was instructed to do things like run through a brook or trip over some rocks. There was a script, but he hadn't memorized it after being told it would change. "It was insanely shitty," he says.
You won't find any copies of Chill anywhere today, he adds. Though one local couple managed to convince him to trade them one for a case of beer.
He says he has since learned to make better decisions. But there is no other job Beuhler would rather do.
"There are 200 people staring at me, hanging on my every word. It's, 'Oh, I said the right thing. They like me. I said the wrong thing they hate me now.'
"You can't get that level of stimulation unless you're a prize fighter. I'm not going to work in an office. I would lose my mind."