Who: Lorne Elliott
When: Saturday, Oct. 3, 8 p.m.
Where: MY Millennium Place
Cost: $22 adults, $19 students/seniors, $16 WAC members
The mere idea of standing in the spotlight with the sole purpose of making an audience laugh is the stuff of nightmares for most. But not Lorne Elliott.
This Quebec-born comedian has gotten quite comfortable on stage since he made his debut in the early '70s. But he didn't set out to launch a career in comedy; he was interested in being a musician.
"At first, it was music, but music kind of gave me the license to get on stage," he said in a recent interview.
At the age of 17, he moved to Newfoundland to go to school and ended up learning the ins and outs of folk music, stepping onto the stage for the first time.
"It's Newfoundland, so to get through a night in front of an audience, it behooved you to know a couple jokes and also a couple Newfoundland folk songs," he said.
He also used to perform the odd Irish "drunk rock" set at the infamous Lower Deck pub in Halifax.
"I was very lucky that it was kind of a gradual thing - I didn't have to go on stage with 15 minutes of material or half an hour of material. It was always like a song and then, if a string breaks, you tell a joke. And I've always written, so I figured I'd write jokes."
Music is still very much a part of his life, and his act. Today, Elliott crafts fun ditties with amusing lyrics to incorporate into his act. Hits like When Granny Gets Plastered and My Dog Has Fleas have become audience favourites.
"I've always liked variety and the audience seems to like it too, so I'd be a fool to give that up," he said.
He is continuously writing and making music that he works into his comedy act, which in the end, makes for a much more dynamic performance than just straight stand-up.
"Once stand-up comedy became a force to be reckoned with (in the mid-80s), immediately, this class structure, hierarchical structure (emerged) with pure stand-ups up top and comedians with guitar, and then jugglers way below," Elliott said.
On top of his work as a humourist, musician and all-around storyteller, Elliott is also a playwright. In fact, his play The Night the Raccoons Went Berserk won the Best New Play Award at the Quebec Drama Festival in 1983. More recently, he produced a musical about a fictitious country pop, rock and roll singer from Newfoundland.