Snowed in Comedy Tour
Where: Royal Theatre
When: Friday, 8 p.m. (also Tidemark Theatre in Campbell River tonight, Nanaimo’s Port Theatre on Saturday night)
Tickets: $40 (discounts for seniors, students) 250-386-6121
For some showbiz types, it’s all about the money.
And for others, it’s all about the snowboarding.
On Friday night, Vancouver comedian Dan Quinn brings his Snowed in Comedy Tour to the Royal Theatre. Sharing the bill with Quinn is Arj Barker from the HBO series Flight of the Conchords, Pete Johansson and Craig Campbell.
The four have two things in common: They’re all comics. And they’re all serious snowboarders.
“It’s pretty unique,” said Quinn of the tour, now in its fifth year. “If it wasn’t for the snowboarding, you’d probably never see us in one show together. We’re not out to make a ton of money from the tour. That’s not really what it’s all about.”
Quinn says when the month-long jaunt was being booked, snowboarding possibilities were considered as important as comedy venues. Sometimes even more. That’s why, as well as cities like Vancouver and Victoria, the comedians will play the Sun Peaks Resort near Kamloops and small towns like Castlegar and Golden.
A fistful of Vancouver Island dates gives the comics the opportunity to snowboard at Mount Washington. Of course, they’re hoping for optimal weather conditions — preferably arriving on the slopes one day after a big snow dump.
“Sometimes on our tour, we hit the right day,” Quinn said. “And sometimes we don’t.”
This year marks the most ambitious Snowed in Comedy Tour ever. There are more cities. A dreadlocked professional snowboarder, John Jackson (Snowboarder Magazine Rider of the Year 2010), joins the crew for the final week. As well, the tour will be filmed.
Quinn says the most extensive shooting of stand-up performances will likely be in Victoria, since it’s the largest venue. The resulting documentary will be shopped around to networks — HBO Canada has already shown interest, he added.
The is only the second year the tour has come to this city. Barker, who was part of the first Victoria date, says he’s looking forward to returning.
“I remember our show in Victoria last time. I’m excited to come back. … It’s quite a pretty city actually. I think there was some square with a statue, am I right?”
Barker is the best-known comic of the four, thanks to his role as Dave on the popular HBO sitcom Flight of the Conchords, which ran from 2007 to ’09. In Australia, the show helped make him a comedy star who sells out 2,000-seat venues.
He didn’t know Quinn before joining last year’s Snowed In Comedy Tour. Barker, an avid boarder, had gotten wind of it from his friend Johansson, who’d participated before. Johansson put in a word for Barker.
Reached in Smithers, the first stop of the tour, Barker had already completed his day of snowboarding and was looking forward to performing that night.
“It was pretty awesome. I didn’t go crazy [snowboarding] because we’re just warming up. We’re on tour for 30 days. I didn’t want to go, like, crazy. I didn’t do any jumps.”
Barker likes this tour because it combines his two passions: snowboarding and comedy.
The two dovetail neatly because boarding is a daytime activity while the comedy performances happen at night.
He added that while it may sound exhausting, it’s not in practice. “We’re going to be in pretty good shape when we hit the stage, don’t worry about that.”
The comedian — who now divides his time between Byron Bay, Australia, and San Francisco — learned to snowboard in his native California in the 1980s.
Aside from Flight of the Conchords, Barker is known for co-writing and performing in an off-Broadway show. The Marijuana-Logues was a dope humour spoof (the title is inspired by The Vagina Monologues).
At one point, Tommy Chong of Cheech and Chong was part of the show. However, Chong — who’d served prison time for conspiring to sell drug paraphernalia — was advised by his probation officer to leave the show. The terms of his parole forbade him from being around those using illegal drugs.
“We couldn’t control people lighting up in a 2,000-seater,” Barker said. “A lot of fans of that show probably did get stoned before, once in a while during. And after.”
In Victoria, Barker’s comedy show may touch on social issues such as U.S. gun laws and unemployment. As well, he delves into “silly” material like dating and laser eye surgery.
Quinn says he deliberately set the ticket prices low for the Snowed in Comedy Tour. In Australia, Barker alone commands up to $50 a ticket.
“[But] that’s not the whole point,” he said. “The whole point is to go snowboarding.”
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