That Time I Bombed: Paul Myrehaug digs his own grave

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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

      Who am I?

      Well, usually I introduce myself as, “Paul Myrehaug, standup comedian”. (Unless I’m talking to my girlfriend Emily’s father, then I go with, “Paul Myrehaug, Adventure Capitalist. Lovely house you have here, sir.”)

      Then I go on to brag... “In 15 years as a comedian, I’ve toured 36 countries around the globe. I've appeared on CTV, CBC, CMT, the Comedy Network, ITV4 United Kingdom, BBC Radio, and of course, my favourite thing as a comedian to write and perform on, CBC Radio’s The Debaters.

      I’m also part of one of the most fun comedy tours on the planet called the Snowed In Comedy Tour. It hits 30 cities which allows me to splice touring with daily snowboarding. Some days, it’s even heli-snowboarding—insanely fun. The final show is on February 11 in Vancouver. Come check it out!

      Or, again, if I was talking to my girlfriend’s intimidating father, I would change my story from all of that malarky to, “I’m currently opening a lucrative franchise in Alberta, sir, and I’m heavily invested in overseas mining. My shares in the mining company are currently looking to yield a 37 percent return on a seven-month investment. Thanks for the wonderful peppermint tea, sir, it’s delicious.”

      I guess that’s who I am in a nutshell.

      First standup experience

      I snuck into a bar called The Raven in my hometown of Camrose, Alberta to see my first live comedy show. I was 16 years old and it was “dollar Corona and comedy night”. The comic was a guy named Jim Fooks and I laughed. I laughed so hard pee came out of my Jesus bits. The night ended with me being busted for underage drinking and talking to a police officer.

      I’ve always wanted to meet Jim to tell him how great he was and how much he inspired me, but sadly I’ve never seen him again. Last I heard is that he is in jail in Saskatchewan, so if you’re reading this Jim, get out soon and I’ll see ya on the road!

      Life-changing comedy show

      Sean Collins at the West Edmonton Mall Yuk Yuk’s.

      I was an amateur, just one year in. I got offstage before him and thought, “I had a great set tonight, I don’t think I’ve ever done that well”. Then Sean went on and after three minutes, I thought, “Wow, I’ve never wrote a decent joke in my life”. An absolute crusher. Laidback and so magnetic. As an audience member or a comedian, it’s a delightful thing to watch.

      Top three comedy specials/albums

      Comedy Central Presents: Brian Regan 

      Comedy Central Presents: Dave Attell 

      Comedy Central Presents: Greg Geraldo 

      I downloaded a Limewire thing. (Remember Limewire? Wow… that’s some old school thieving!) There were 10 or so “Comedy Central Presents" MP3s. All really great comics, but I really loved those three. So good. I must have listened to them over 100 times each. They’re still on my iTunes and I still love listening to them on long drives to and from gigs.

      All-time favourite joke or bit

      Dave Attell has a great joke about time travel. GO STEAL IT ON LIMEWIRE RIGHT NOW!

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

      Before I moved to Europe, I lived in Vancouver. I was born and raised in Alberta, so I’m used to and prepared for snow. I actually love the winter.

      I won’t get all cliche “Vancouver Snow Jokes" on ya with the “blah blah blah, they can’t drive… blah blah blah… they don’t pump their brakes” hickory-doo that the rest of Canada throws on your shoulders. But… I was driving my car up Robson Street during a snowstorm and a man wearing an extremely nice suit with slick, polished dress shoes was walking across the street.

      He reached the curb, lifted his left foot, lost his footing on the right foot, and proceeded to go face-first into the sidewalk with the torque and velocity of a released mouse trap. I was sure he was injured as I drove away but I couldn’t fight back the tears of laughter… I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so hard in my life.

      He was just so full of dignity wearing that snappy suit, like the Monopoly guy… then KABOOM… hilarious.

      That time I bombed

      Sticking with the Vancouver theme, I had a rough one during the 2010 Olympics. There was a furniture shop on Drake Street near Robson. I want to say Pottery Barn or Urban Barn or something like that.

      During the Olympics, they had a media stunt where they put a human—a man human—LIVE in the store for the whole Olympics. The rule was he could never leave the store for the entirety of the games and they would put cameras up and stream his Furniture Barn life on the World Wide Web. I guess the stunt was successful? It became popular and he hosted a lot of events, parties, and shows in his Olympic fishbowl home.

      A bunch of comedians were booked into this bizarre world one Friday night and I was NOT one of them. However, I decided to go down and check out the show given the ludicrous circumstance and the promise of free beer.

      I arrived on the scene and snagged a cold one from a camping cooler on the floor and stood awkwardly in the corner as the first act went on stage. The situation was impossible. You might as well have tried doing standup comedy in a pizza box full of gorillas.

      The poor guy was telling jokes in the middle of a house party that should have been broken up by the cops hours ago. It was a mad house. An absolute brouhaha. I, of course, was laughing wholeheartedly at the pain of my fellow comrade who was in the tough situation. I thanked my lucky stars that I wasn’t waiting in the wings to go onstage next.

      Then there was a tap on my shoulder. I turned and met eye-to-eye with Kevin Foxx, the comedian who was organizing the night.

      “Dude, you’re going on.”

      “What? Noooooooooo way I’m going on, Foxxy.”

      “Are you kidding me? We’re getting the shit beat out of us in game seven of the Olympics here…”

      (Kevin, not the largest sports fan in the world, used a NHL playoff reference in a Olympic situation that has a round-robin style of tournament. I let the mistake go as he continued to talk so as to not be a dick about it.)

      “Game SEVEN… and I see YOU standing in the corner! We need a someone to grab this audience by the balls and I have Drew Doughty standing in the corner refusing to play!”


      “You’re on next.”

      Kevin walks away.

      What I should have done is walk out the front door, gone to Granville Street to get a box of happiness from Megabite Pizza and then headed back to my apartment as a whole person. Maybe it was the sense of brotherhood in a war type of situation? Maybe it was the nice compliment from Kevin comparing my comedic skills to Drew Doughty? Maybe it was the cooler beer? Whatever it was, I went for it.

      When Kevin introduced me, the audience actually did quiet down when I walked onstage. They gave me a window of one joke to win their attention. I hit them with the best opening joke I had in 2010.

      “Hey, you guys love hockey?” A cheer goes up from the suspicious crowd. I continue. “Me too. My favourite thing about hockey is when your favourite player gets traded to a new team. And then when he comes back to town—every time he touches the puck—what do we do friends?”

      The audience answers my question by collectively BOOOOOOOOOOing at the same time. I continue feeling like the trap is set nicely. “Wouldn’t you like to take that tradition into real life? Break up with your girlfriend or boyfriend and when you see them a week later, follow them around and BOOOOOOOOOOOO?”

      The punchline has been dropped. I pause, ready to receive the beautiful laughter from the audience that I’ve been using to fill the hole deep within me that was created from being fat in high-school. It never comes... instead, a long awkward pause of silence... then collectively the audience fires up another... BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

      I lasted in the bear pit for about two-and-a-half minutes and there was nothing Drew Doughty about it. No skill, no finesse, no class. Every setup, punchline, and premise was met with a collective BOOOOOOOOOO. I dug my own grave, they were all holding guns, and I gave them the "Boo" bullets they needed on my very first joke.

      What did I learn? Never trust Kevin Foxx... or the Urban Pottery Furniture Store Barn Warehouse.

      Paul Myrehaug headlines the Comedy Mix from September 29 to October 1.  He returns to Vancouver on February 11 for the Snowed In Comedy Tour.

      Follow Paul on Twitter and check out his website for full show updates, video and audio.