That Time I Bombed: Kevin Banner dips into comedy hell in beautiful Okanagan

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      That Time I Bombed is where the Straight asks comedians about their life-changing shows, favourite comedy albums, and, a subject that any comedian will face at some point in their career, a time that they bombed on stage.

      Who are you

      I’m Kevin Banner. I’ve got bitches galore—you might have a lot of bitches but I’ve got much more. Wait, no… that’s not me… that’s Eazy E.

      I’m Kevin Banner, a comedian from Sooke B.C. who is currently living in Vancouver. I’ve opened for the likes of Norm MacDonald, Doug Stanhope, and Bill Burr. My debut album, Dreamboat, comes out on October 21 on 604 Records.

      First stand-up experience

      The first stand-up show I ever attended was the Just For Laughs tour that came through Victoria back in 2004. Before that, I was a fan of stand-up comedy but never thought it was something I could do.

      I had seen specials by Chris Rock and George Carlin, and I knew I couldn’t do what they did. I’m a relatively dumb fella and social commentary isn’t in my wheelhouse. But live comedy is so different than a special or a JFL gala set. The comics played off of the energy in the room, and riffed and fucked around.

      It convinced me that I not only could do it, but I needed to do it at least once. It took me six months to work up the courage to try it and here we are 11 years later.

      Life-changing comedy show

      The first amateur show was at Hecklers in Victoria in 2010. Before that club came along, I had done stand-up maybe 20 times in five years. I signed up and showed up for the first amateur night at Hecklers and did well enough that they asked me to come back in three weeks and host a show.

      Within a year, the regular house-MC Jason Lamb decided he was going to take some time off, so they offered me the position. Hosting shows at Hecklers gave me the opportunity to watch and learn from some really amazing comics and also helped me develop relationships with them.

      That made my move to Vancouver much easier as I already had a built in network of friends... and Kyle Bottom.

      Top three comedy specials/albums

      Dave Attell – Road Work  Rapid fire jokes; punchlines when you don’t expect them. Watch this special and then buy his first album, Skanks for the Memories. Then tweet me @BannerComedy and say, “Thank you, Banner, for fixing my dog-shit life.”

      Norm MacDonald – Me Doing Standup  Nobody in the world is funnier than Norm and he proves it with this special. If you love comedy and don’t love Norm, you may not love comedy after all.

      Chad Daniels – As Is The pride of Fergus Falls, Minnesota… If I were to build a comedy Mount Rushmore of my four personal favourite comics, Chad’s mug would be carved in rock.

      All-time favourite joke or bit

      Norm Macdonald was a guest on Conan years ago. He was on panel with Courtney Thorne Smith who was promoting her new movie, Chairman of the Board, which co-starred Carrot Top.

      Norm cracked a few jokes about Carrot Top being a premature ejaculator and box office poison. When Courtney said the name of the movie, Conan looked at Norm and said, “Do something with that, you freak.” Norm’s legendary reply was, “I bet the Board is spelled B-O-R-E-D.” 

      Something you saw that made you laugh but probably shouldn’t have

      I used to work with kids as a noon-hour supervisor at an elementary school. One day, two kids came up to me holding a used condom they’d found in the forest, asking me what it was. I yelled out, “DROP THAT, IT’S A SNAKE SKIN!” and whipped a small bottle of hand-sanitizer out of my pocket like a gunslinger in the Old West.

      A fifth-grade student saw this and knew right away what he was looking at. He sprinted down the hill and the next thing I knew, he was back with about 30 classmates in tow, asking to “see the snake-skin” with a shit-eating grin on his face.

      I stepped on the ribbed rubber and told them it had been throw away. They were all so disappointed.

      I still giggle about that from time to time.

      That time I bombed

      I was on the road with Graham Clark playing Kelowna and Penticton. The Kelowna show was in a casino and I had an off-night and was struggling right from the get-go. A drunk woman (who I hope is no longer with us) jumped up and started shouting at me that I sucked and should fuck off and whatnot.

      I suggested she go shit her pants. She left the room, trailed by her boyfriend who was trying to calm her down.

      She started causing a scene out on the casino floor, so a manager came over and attempted to settle this dippy dingbat’s attitude. Her boyfriend apologized and the manager said not to worry, but asked them to leave.

      The gal (may she rest in peace, hopefully) grabbed a glass off the tray of a server who was walking by and smashed it. The manager banned her and her entire group FOR LIFE.

      When her boyfriend came back into the showroom to inform everybody that they not only had to leave, but they could never return as well, a few of them took that news poorly and blamed me. They yelled a bunch of stuff at me (apparently I’m a fat fuck. Who knew?) and I continued my shame-spiral into comedy hell.

      It gets worse! The following night, we are in Penticton. The stage for the show was essentially a sandbox turned upside down on top of six kegs.

      No steps to get on the stage, so I had to hoist myself up there (which is not a great look for me). I did a bit of crowd work to start the show and asked the people what their local hockey team was called, when a voice bellowed out “Do your fucking research!”

      It didn’t get better from there. 

      Graham was headlining. If you don’t know Graham Clark, he’s one of the funniest and most likeable comedians in the world.

      Thirty seconds into his set, a man got offended at Graham’s joke about Regina and started screaming at him. That continued for the majority of his set, which was also peppered with red lights and sirens.

      “Why?” you ask… because while the bar had turned off the hockey game on the TVs, they hadn’t turned off the Budweiser goal lamps. So every time the Canucks scored a goal, a series of red lights started flashing and horns blew.

      It was a real horse abortion, if you know what I mean.  

      Kevin Banner is currently competing in the Sirius XM Top Comic Contest. The winner is guaranteed a spot at three of Canada’s biggest comedy festivals in 2017, including JFL NorthWest in Vancouver. You can vote for Kevin until August 22 here.

      Catch Kevin performing at various venues around Vancouver and beyond. Pick up his comedy album, Dreamboat, on October 21 on CD, vinyl, or iTunes.

      Visit Kevin's website and follow him on Twitter for show updates and of course, for his jokes.