It’s hard to know what to do with your hands during hard economic times. Sad digits are easily drawn to immediate, distracting,but ultimately empty and ruinous hand jives like online gambling, masturbation and voting Conservative in federal elections. Just kidding on that last one.
The cure for such malaise? Laughter Yoga? They have that? Apparently, but it’s not for cool people. How about just plain laughter? Yeah, sure. Whatever.
But seriously, says The Laugh Shop’s Matthew Wall, people like a good laugh when life gets FUBAR II. The club recently held fundraisers for the Japanese earthquake and tsunami disaster and the Slave Lake wildfire tragedy. Not to mention last year’s Tom Green performance. Now that dude’s a disaster. Rim shot!
First and foremost, these events are meant to help the victims, says Wall, but even without making light of the specific situation, comedy can lighten the load of those directly affected by tough times.
“I have heard — historically speaking — that in times of recession and even depression,” Wall says, “the entertainment industry tends to survive and even grow because entertainment is a relatively inexpensive thing that people can go out and do to forget about the fact that they’ve lost their house or their job.”
However, they’re just less likely to turn to, say, a Steven Spielberg Holocaust drama for said entertainment.
Wall’s club — located in the Blackfoot Inn — has undergone “aggressive” growth since he took it over in 2009. As the local economy struggles to make an upswing, he says attendance continues to grow. He also points out that the city has three full-time comedy clubs plus various open mic events and one-nighters. He’s not sure that this is a side-effect of lousy economic times, but says it is an indicator Calgary is a very supportive marketplace for comedy.
Incidentally, the city’s three favourite comedy haunts according to Fast Forward’s Best of Calgary poll are — from first to third — Yuk Yuk’s, The Laugh Shop and The Comedy Cave.
Calgarians like to laugh and comics also tend to be topical. The day’s top news often slides into the act. “If something were to happen today, we could hear a comic joking onstage about it tonight,” says Wall. “Even a tragic situation, if you can find the humour in that, it can help people, even people that are directly affected. It helps them to cope and move on with that.”
Sounds like he’s talking about that Tom Green performance again. Rim shot! “Tom Green is, hands down, one of the best all round entertainers I’ve seen,” says Wall, defending the gonzo Canuck comic’s honour. Last year, the puerile star of television, film and standup comedy performed in front of 300 Laugh Shop patrons. Afterwards, he generously sat down with the crowd — exhausted from sustained laughter — for an informal chat. OK, so he isn’t a total disaster.
So if you just don’t know what to do with those desperate, unemployed hands of yours, put ’em together for Green (who will make a return engagement to the club this month). Or one of the many standup comics now performing at the city’s comedy clubs.