A Long Overdue Changing Of The Guard

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Things are very different from when I first started in the Saskatoon comedy scene, way back on October 4, 2011.  The biggest change I’ve noticed is in the leadership role of Saskatoon comedy.  A pair of skinny, identical twins with Lyle Lovett-style hairdos have taken control of the Saskatoon scene, and in effect has raised its profile and popularity.

Dustin and Dylan Williamson run the Sunday night open mic at The Thirsty Scholar, known as The Comedy Lab.  Never before have I seen so many new people want to try comedy since they took over.

For a long time when I first started, you noticed a couple things if you were at a local open mic comedy show.  The first is that there were hardly any women that tried stand-up.  Two did when I first started, and the host not only didn’t support them, but threw them under the bus and pretty much destroyed their confidence.  The other thing was not many newcomers tried comedy for fear of being trashed on stage.  Oh, the audiences were also small in numbers.

I think Dylan and myself started out around the same time.  Dustin came onto the scene a couple years later.  It’s great to see how they have evolved as performers while staying true to themselves.  Nerves before a show are now replaced by a calm, relaxed attitude.  You will not find any two more genuine and authentic human beings anywhere.  Through my ups and downs they have always been a friend to me and make me feel like a part of the comedy community.

They built a stage with logos and music for each performer.  They don’t play favourites, as everyone usually gets the same amount of time.  They praise you when you’ve done well, and more importantly they don’t throw a performer under the bus if they don’t do a great set.  That’s they way it should be.  Life is tough enough without having a bully for a host to bully you some more.

They open the show with the two of them having a conversation with each other, and telling jokes.  They don’t go on political or racist rants.  They don’t bore the audience with long winded stories or material that is over their heads.  They get the audience involved and get a great response from them.  Also, it’s important to note that Dylan and Dustin respect the audience.  They don’t go out of their way to pick on anybody and in return, they get the audience’s full and undivided attention.  There is nobody talking amongst themselves or on their cell phones.  The audience is paying attention to the performers on stage.

The twins seem to have their finger on the pulse of the comedy community and of the arts community in Saskatoon as well.  Posts about their shows spread throughout social media and are advertised in the Broadway area.  They are connected with improv groups in the city.  Other comedians and comedy groups want to work with them because of who they are and how they conduct themselves.  I am proud to call them both friends and be a part of a great show on Sunday nights.

Having said that, they are also quiet and humble.  They don’t advertise this much, so I’ll do it for them.

It costs Dylan and Dustin time and money to put this together.  They bring their own spotlights, curtain, music, stage, video and audio equipment.  Setup and teardown takes anywhere from 15 – 30 minutes per night.  Then there is lugging all that equipment up and down the stairs.

On every table they have envelopes.  They do not ask for a cover charge.  Instead, they ask that you pay what you feel the night was worth to you.  Whatever money you put into the envelope doesn’t go to the comics.  It goes to cover the costs and time they put into the show.

If you think I’m just blowing smoke, show up in the upstairs loft of The Thirsty Scholar on Sunday nights before they show up, and watch all the work they have to do putting a show together.  They are very selfless, putting lots of work into this each and every week and don’t make a big stink about asking or anything in return.  I think the biggest compliment we can pay Dustin and Dylan isn’t necessarily to pack the seats full on a Sunday night, but rather to stuff those envelopes full of money to properly thank them for their hard work.

Event invites are posted every week on Facebook.  You can follow The Comedy Lab @ The Thirsty Scholar on Facebook here

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