Dino Archie’s art of the hustle

The Vancouver comic is bringing the Vancity Comedy Extravaganza to the Vogue this Saturday

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      Dino Archie’s been banned from Facebook. The Vancouver comic doesn’t know why he’s been banned—the social media colossus often doesn’t offer such insights. Aso, it doesn’t really matter. Archie couldn’t be happier. 

      “I feel like I got let go of a job I had volunteered for. ‘We don't need you to come in,’” he tells the Straight from vacation in Cuba.

      At a time when comedians big and small utilize social media to leverage their fanbase for Hollywood clout and promote themselves in a never-ending race for eyeballs, the Vancouver comic has taken a decidedly more, um, old-school approach: focusing on the craft, come what may. 

      “Sometimes in our field, we don't give ourselves to do whatever you want,” Archie explains. “We take on all these volunteer jobs in hopes that a lot of people will find out about us. And a lot of that energy could be put into the craft of what you're doing, or just back into you.”

      This approach could be explained, in part, by the fact that Archie’s recently turned 40—and is, in fact, in Cuba to celebrate that milestone. But he’s been rebelling against the cult of digital self-promotion since before the pandemic, having “retired” from social media back in 2018, and only rejoined recently in order to troll toxic content creators. 

      Which, hmmm, may have had something to do with his Facebook ban…

      In any case, Archie’s thoughtful, conversational comedy has served him well onstage, earning him spots on Jimmy Kimmel Live! and Just for Laughs. But he says even those highlights only hint at a creative peak that he feels is still to come.

      “​​I don't feel like I've either hit my stride yet,” Archie says. “I feel like I'm always chasing something. There are moments where I catch it, and the crowd is with you. They trust you. I'm getting more of those moments—but I'm still chasing it. Everything out of my mouth isn't gold. So I'm still chasing some kind of perfect set.”

      This crowd—which, he explains, “aren’t fans, I don’t have fans”—will get the latest glimpse of an older, wiser Archie at the Vogue on January 21 as part of the Vancity Comedy Extravaganza, a Vancouver comedy showcase that Archie launched back in 2014. This year’s bill includes seven comedians, including Archie, Ivan Decker, Marito Lopez, Yumi Nagashima, Hasan Phills, and Gavin Matts. 

      Archie started the event as a way to showcase the glut of talent that Vancouver produces—it’s part of the reason the Fresno-native kept coming back to Vancouver, and ultimately put down roots long-term.

      “A lot of [Vancouver] comics get overlooked, but they are just as funny [as anybody]. I always felt like they needed to be seen by more people,” he says.

      He started the comedy show in a time before COVID-19, when it seemed like the local comedy scene was on the verge of some kind of boom. Clubs were packed. Smaller comedy rooms, run by comics, were regularly sold out. There was almost something, dare we say, utopian about it, even if none of the comics were making any real money or headway. Vancouver’s much too small for any of that. But there was a freedom in it, far from the LA spotlight, where a comic could just do comedy for the sake of it.

      COVID obliterated that, for the most part. Bye bye, Comedy Mix. Adios, Yuk Yuk’s. But comedians need an outlet—it’s essentially a survival issue. The comic-run rooms are popping up again, wherever space is available: above vintage clothing shops, behind restaurants. 

      And it’s in this environment where Archie seems to thrive. If he’s a comic first, he’s a hustler second. He’s launched a men’s clothing line. He’s also launched Strictly Beloved, a podcast with Lopez, which started as a pandemic project and landed them a spot at Just for Laughs Toronto. He’ll also be taking the Comedy Extravaganza to Victoria, Calgary, and Toronto later this year.

      Archie filmed his first comedy special back in September at the Hollywood Theatre, where he said he received his first standing ovation in his decade-plus of performing standup. He also financed it himself, and is currently working out how best to distribute and make a proper return on it. 

      “Nobody’s coming to save you. There's no scouts in the crowd. You have to do it yourself and then put it out there,” he says. “And it’s great that we can. Now I have full creative control over it.”

      It’s Archie’s own brand of DIY, fully realized. Or, as he puts it: “We all have to hustle. So are we going to be hustling for the AI, or something else?”

      Dino Archie’s Vancity Comedy Extravaganza is at the Vogue Theatre on Saturday, January 21. Tickets are available here.