Taking stand-up comedy off leash

Over the winter break, The Gauntlet was able to sit down with stand-up comedian and radio personality Lori Gibbs. The Calgary based comedian answered our questions regarding her stand-up career and discussed her recent transition into the world of radio.

The Gauntlet: How did you get your start in doing stand-up comedy?

Lori Gibbs: Well I had 20 years of stage fright first. When I turned 40, someone said to me, “I hear you’ve always wanted to try stand-up,” and I said yes. They asked me, “if you were on your death bed and you were looking back at your life, would you regret never trying it?” I said damn you, yes. And now I have to go try it. Through a friend of a friend, I ended up with my first gig at a healing retreat for church ladies in Caroline, Alberta.

G: But doing stand-up was something you always wanted to do, despite the stage fright?

L: Yeah. I always knew that I felt really good if I could make people laugh or cheer people up.

G: So how long have you been performing?

L: Eight years.

G: And during those eight years, what would you say has been the highlight of your career so far?

L: Probably filming my Comedy Now special in Toronto in 2011.

G: To you, what is the best part of being a comedian?

L: The freedom to do or say whatever you want to. I call it being off leash.

G: What is something about the lifestyle of a comedian that would surprise most people?

L: Well I don’t think I’m a typical comedian, because I’m a mom with two teenage boys, who also is on the radio in the morning. I think a lot of comedians would just be going to bed when I get up for work at 4:00 a.m. It might surprise people that many of us have a totally normal, family-oriented lifestyle.

G: So you’ve recently forayed into a radio career in the past year. How did that opportunity arise?

L: Like a silver platter on my lap! I used to go to two different radio stations to promote the comedy shows I was doing. I would go on the air for 10 to 15 minutes, try to be charming and funny and get people to come buy tickets for my shows. One of the stations, (X92.9) said they liked the chemistry I had with the other two guys and asked if I’d consider doing the morning show. It came out of nowhere, but I’m all about having as many adventures as possible, so I said I would. I did that for seven months, before they reinvented the show and I wasn’t on it anymore. But I’d been bitten by the radio bug and decided to put some feelers out there and ended up at Up 97.7 on their morning show.

G: What skills overlap between stand-up and radio?
L: Improv is big. You have to have the gift of gab for both and I feel they complement each other. As a comic, I’m always subconsciously looking for the funny part of things. When I’m doing comedy, I love playing with the audience. Doing bits I know is great, but the adrenaline is even sweeter when it’s spontaneous and not planned. I guess just being able to take a topic, and finding something amusing about it is huge for both jobs.

G: What comedians personally stand out to you?

L: I’m crazy about Louis CK! He’s so raw and honest and goes deeper than any other comedian I’ve met. I could listen to him over and over. I also love Brian Regan, who manages to do hysterical routines that are 100 per cent clean, which is a big challenge. I love Pete Holmes too, because he’s so silly. I’ve never understood really dark comedians, because I feel leaving a comedy show should leave you lighter and more joyful. John Pinette is another guy like that, a performer that, when I watch him, can tell that they are really in the moment and passionate about what they’re doing. I saw him live and almost couldn’t catch my breath I was laughing so hard.

G: How do you think the Calgary comedy scene compares with the rest of the country?

L: Well in Calgary you can actually find comedy every night of the week. You probably can’t do as many shows as you could in, say, Toronto, but if you want to get out there and get stage time, it’s there if you want it. There are a lot of people who are passionate about keeping the Calgary comedy scene going. I would say Calgary stacks up quite well against many other Canadian cities.

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