Laughs take Paul Myrehaug around the globe

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Kids, if you have a desire to see the world, forget the army. Hone your funny bone and become a standup comedian. It’s worked for Paul Myrehaug.

The Camrose, Alberta, native has spent stints in Edmonton, Toronto, and Vancouver, and now resides in London. Along the way, he’s plied his trade throughout North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. He’s even done military tours in the Middle East, only without having to go through basic training.

Life is good for the 30-year-old former local. Myrehaug left our shores for jolly old England back in March and has been furthering his travels ever since. A gander at his 2013 touring schedule shows him back in the U.K. in February, then in Belgium, the French Alps, and Austria in March, and Switzerland in April.

The past nine months have seen Myrehaug play clubs in India, Singapore, Malaysia, and China, to boot. It’s no wonder comedians call London the keyhole to the world.

“Ningbo, China, never had standup comedy there before,” he said on the phone from his parents’ farm in Camrose over the holidays, before heading to Vancouver for three headlining nights at Yuk Yuk’s (with fellow comic Katie-Ellen Humphries and MC Jared Borland). “When we came to the Westin hotel, there was a welcome procession there for us. We were met with traditionally dressed girls, the manager of the hotel, and representatives from the city. It was a big event.”

Not that he’s a stranger to big events. In 2007, one year after finishing second in the Seattle International Comedy Competition (losing out to Vancouverite Damonde Tschritter, but placing ahead of American Rory Scovel, no less), Myrehaug won the Great Canadian Laugh-Off in Toronto, taking home a cool $25,000 for his efforts. That’s a lot of Sir Robert Bordens for anyone, let alone for a kid in Canadian show biz.

“I met a girl, moved to Vancouver, and kind of cooked through the money,” he says, laughing. “I would buy a trip to Cuba and all that sort of stuff. I wasn’t super-smart with the money.”

And three years later, he was off again. Reading his online bio, you’d think it was edited by Stalin, with all references to Vancouver erased. It mentions his Alberta roots, his time in Toronto, and now his London home. What gives?

“I should remedy that because I actually think that out of all of the Canadian scenes, Vancouver was probably the most healthy for me,” he says. “In Toronto, I could sit back and just take bookings from Yuk Yuk’s. I felt like I really got complacent in Toronto. It was nice and comfortable but I don’t think I was growing at all. In fact, I think I was one of the laziest writers in the comedy scene. I just sat around and took these bookings and didn’t really grow.”

In Vancouver, on the other hand, he felt he had to hustle just to make ends meet. And performing in indie rooms around town to largely the same crowds made him write more, for fear of repeating himself. Also, because there wasn’t as much work, he was forced to look south of the border. From his Vancouver base he began working the U.S. west coast.

“It really lit a fire underneath me,” he says of his time here. “It’s like moving out of your mom and dad’s house. You’re on your own and your confidence grows.”

It grew to the point where he could say goodbye. Now he’s loving his new surroundings in a bustling creative community overseas.

“The comedy scene over there is so nice,” he says of England. “And there’s a lot of work, so it gives us more of a chance to live a normal life and enjoy a relationship without being on the road all the time.”

Sure, in theory. But one gets the distinct impression the road is where Paul Myrehaug would rather be.

Paul Myrehaug plays Yuk Yuk’s Comedy Club from next Thursday to Saturday (January 10 to 12).

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