He's not exactly living on Easy Street, but everything's relative. For almost four years, Vancouver standup comic and actor Sam Easton had no fixed address, phone, or e-mail. When the struggling actor's agent needed to get hold of him, she'd have to call all his buddies.
His standup career started with a bang, though. After dropping out of York University, the Vancouver-born and -raised funnyman took the comedy course at Toronto's Humber College, winning the Phil Hartman Comedy Award for best student in 2000. The judge for the competition was Saturday Night Live creator Lorne Michaels and the presenter of the prize was SNL alum Dan Aykroyd. He followed this up with a nomination for the Tim Sims Award, named for the late T.O. comic, that same year. But awards don't pay the bills.
"It put so much pressure on me," says the 25-year-old. "I was getting so much media and I had nothing. I had no depth whatsoever. It made things very tough. Everybody was telling me to go down to L.A. and to do all this stuff. But I didn't have depth as a comic and I didn't really have depth as a man yet."
In the ensuing years, things gradually picked up: Easton landed several small appearances in movies and TV, including five episodes of The L Word. He then secured a sizable role in Underclassman, which saw theatrical release in early September. Next up is a supporting lead role in Cheating Death: Final Destination 3, due out February 24.
Easton continues to work on his standup throughout Vancouver but doesn't tour the country these days. "There's no point to being paid $200 to be in Red Deer, Alberta, and missing an audition that can change your life," he explains. "It's the same reason I don't play the lotto, because if I book one audition, it is like winning the lottery."
No matter what success may come his way on the big screen, Easton isn't going to forget where he started out. "Standup brought me to the dance. And standup is the reason why I booked all these roles. I would never go down to L.A. and say, 'Oh, I'm an actor.' My standup's what makes me different."
Whether it's acting or appearing alone behind a mike, Sam Easton is one to watch. He's not letting it get to his head, however.
"There's such a fine line between success and failure in this business. For example, everyone in Vancouver and all my colleagues think I'm very successful right now. But if I hadn't have booked that one audition for Final Destination 3, I don't know whose couch I'd be sleeping on right now."