Industry expert: Comedian Brent Butt busts out his own best of Vancouver picks

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      He’s one of the biggest names in Canadian comedy. He performs theatre shows and galas all across the land. But you’re more likely to see him dropping in on clubs and smaller comedy rooms in Vancouver than working headlining halls. Such is the lot of the hometown hero.

      So it will be a treat when Brent Butt, who’s lived in Vancouver longer than in his native Saskatchewan, brings his act to Centennial Theatre in North Van on Saturday (September 24). The last time he did a big show here was two years ago, in support of his feature film debut, No Clue. This time, the cause is more serious.

      All proceeds will go to the North Shore Disability Resource Centre’s information and advocacy program. The creator and former star of Corner Gas and Hiccups is often asked to perform at charity events. Usually, his agency checks them out to see if they’re a good fit for him or not. “This is a no-brainer,” Butt tells the Straight over the phone from his home on the West Side. “There wasn’t a lot of research involved in this. It was just like, ‘Yeah, this is a good cause; let’s get on with it.’ ”

      Butt’s standup, as good as anyone’s anywhere, is timeless. His jokes aren’t tied to the news or pop-cultural references of the day. It’s purely intentional. “The decision was that’s too much work!” he says. “That was the conscious decision: ‘God, that seems like a lot of work. What, you mean, like, write new jokes every day?’ ”

      He’s joking, of course. Mostly. He says it was “just the practicality of not writing short-term jokes. Write a joke that has a shelf life that you can put in the arsenal. Every now and again, I’ll be doing a show on a stage and there will be a trigger that’ll remind me of a bit I did 10 years ago or something, but the situation I’m in on-stage is perfect for it and I pull it out. So it’s great to have that arsenal of jokes with a shelf life.”

      Since this is our Best of Vancouver issue, we thought we’d get some Brent Butt contributions.

      Best watering hole to sip a prairie wedding or dugout

      West
      2881 Granville Street

      “I thought it’s too bad rye and Coke doesn’t have a name. So I started calling it Prairie Wedding in hopes that it would somehow catch on like wildfire. It hasn’t happened yet. Then I became concerned with my cola intake. I wasn’t concerned with the rye intake. So the healthy move is to switch over to rye and water, which I then called the Dugout. But that never really stuck. I love sitting up at a bar, and it’s great when you know the bartender, so for me it’s West on Granville. It’s arguably the top bar in the city.”

      Best gas station

      “Anything that isn’t hellaciously filthy is good for me. It’s really a convenience thing. I’m not going to hang out at the gas station, no matter how good it is.”

      Best location for shooting a series or film

      “When we shot No Clue, it was great shooting in some of the gritty alleys on the East Side. Vancouver’s an incredible place to shoot. We used to go down quite often to West Hastings, just off Burrard. There’s a lot of room, so if you’re trying to park your trucks and all your gear and stuff, there are plazas and open areas and you can get a lot of different looks. A lot of times when you’re shooting, you’re just in the way. You’re kind of screwing people’s day. It’s nice down there, because you have a ton of room and you’re not bothering anybody. And you have this beautiful aesthetic around you.”

      Best diner to rival the Ruby

      Harvest Deli
      2963 West Broadway

      Butter Baked Goods
      4907 MacKenzie Street

      “For my money, the best sandwiches in the world are at the Harvest Deli on West Broadway. Harvest Deli makes the best sandwiches. And if I’m looking for something sweet, Butter Baked Goods. And both those places are great for coffee.”

      Best thing to do on a staycation

      “Nothing. The whole point of a staycation is to really do nothing. You could throw Netflix on your list, but really you shouldn’t be doing anything on a staycation. That’s the whole point. If you’re going to be doing stuff, you may as well pack a bag and go somewhere.”

      Best comedy club

      Comedy MIX
      1015 Burrard Street

      “They’ve cultivated a real comedy-savvy audience. They really come there for the comedy and they know how to be a comedy audience. If you’re doing something kinda tired and hackneyed, they call you on it with their quietness. And if you’re doing something clever and original, they’re into it. But they’re not super hip and alt and giving you weird reads on stuff. It’s just a good, cultivated comedy audience.”

      Best comedy room

      Havana
      1212 Commercial Drive

      “It’s fun to do Graham Clark’s Laugh Gallery at Havana on Monday nights. It’s kind of a great cross between a comedy club and a theatre. It’s tiny and intimate like a club, but it’s got incredible focus like a theatre. And then you’ve got somebody like Graham Clark, who emcees the vast majority of the shows. There’s no better guy to set a comedy stage… other than perhaps myself!”

      Best theatre

      Vogue Theatre
      918 Granville Street

      “I love the Vogue. It’s got kind of a casual grandness about it. It’s grand without being precious. And so everybody in the crowd is very comfortable and the focus is great. I have a very positive association there.”

      Local comedian with the best chance of becoming a star

      Ivan Decker. He’s got incredible natural talent and an incredible work ethic. He really works at his craft. He does the due diligence. That’s a deadly combination, when you have natural talent and a strong work ethic. And then he’s a goddamn good-looking man. But the Vancouver scene is so strong. I said Ivan Decker, but I could have said a half-dozen other people quite easily.”

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