With her trademark lisp and signature air-humping moves, stand-up comic Nikki Payne’s reputation as one of the raciest female comics around precedes her. Let’s face it, not many women have the gusto to get up on stage and strip down to their Spanx and broadcast it on YouTube. Payne doesn’t think twice.
The two-time Canadian Comedy Award-winning Female Comic of the Year and recent Canadian Comedy Person of the Year nominee (alongside the likes of Martin Short and Gerry Dee) tackles all the taboo subjects most women shy away from — sex and the totally unsexy — and clearly has an amazing time doing it.
Hailing from the East Coast, Payne spent years living and working as a stand-up comic in Toronto and Los Angeles before moving back to the small fishing village of Grand-Barachois, N.B. (population 2,678) in 2011, in spite of the fact that it might hurt her career.
“I knew it would be a bit of a sacrifice,” says Payne. “People might not want to book me if they have to fly me from Moncton instead of Toronto.”
But the draw of the coast was too strong and Payne found herself longing for the land of clam digger pants and private septic tanks buried neatly in each home’s backyard. And that, in turn, is reflected in her show.
“The country is weird. In the city, you don’t know how a lot of things work, but I know where my poo goes. It’s buried in the poo tank in my backyard. I’m responsible for my poo in a way that I never knew possible. I talk about stuff like that.”
But Vancouver comedian and promoter Dan Quinn knew it was worth it to fly Payne out on the cross-country red-eye for the Blue Bridge Comedy Festival, running Thursday to Sunday at various locations throughout Victoria and Esquimalt.
“Before I decided to become the only Grand-Barachois comic, I was a Toronto comic and through touring and festivals I met Dan Quinn,” says Payne.
“I think what he’s been doing is great. He really has brought a lot more comedy to the Island.”
And Payne is excited to finally do a show in Victoria, even if her beloved dog, Emilio Estevez has to stay home.
“Dogs are just awesome. They’re way more cooler than people. They get so excited about little things, like when you go out to the compost bin and he has a celebration that you’re home. Or they get so excited that they barf and then just carry on like nothing happened. When I barf, the day is done. No matter what activity I was doing, it’s done. If I barf halfway through my show at Hecklers, I’m going home, no body wants to watch me after that.”
But don’t expect it to be all poo jokes and air thrusts. Payne is packing along some new material based on more mature life experiences.
“I’ll probably pull out some oldies but goodies, there’ll be a little bit of humping and a bit of swearing, but also some new stuff. I talk about my life, that’s what I do ultimately, and I’ve gone from a huge city to a little fishing village and I recently bought a home. which is wild and crazy … It’s that sprinkled with humps.”
Payne is headlining a show at Hecklers Aug. 18, alongside Kristeen Von Hagen and Peter White (8pm, $25). She’s also performing in the Gala Show with Brent Butt (Esquimalt Sport Centre, 8pm, $50) and the Dark and Dirty Show on Friday (Hecklers, 11pm, $10).
Blue Bridge Comedy Festival also features Marc Maron, Johnny Bagpipes, Rob Pue, Graham Clark, Paul Myrehaug, Damonde Tschritter and Sean Proudlove.
Kicking off on Thursday with a “Best of Victoria” roundup (Victoria Event Centre, 8pm) featuring Johnny Bagpipes, and closing Sunday with a live taping of the Haug and Tschrid Show (Hecklers, 9:30pm), Blue Bridge has four days and eight shows to choose from.
The highlight will be Friday’s Gala with Brent Butt (from the CTV sitcom Corner Gas), with special guest appearances by Marc Maron, Nikki Payne, Damonde Tschritter, Rob Pue, Paul Myrehaug and more. If you’re only going to see one show, this is the one to see. It’s like an all-you-can-laugh buffet of Canadian comedy.
Check out our Stage listings for the full schedule or visit bluebridgecomedyfestival.com. M
Blue Bridge Comedy Festival
Thurs., Aug. 16 to Sun., Aug. 19 at various locations. Tickets at rmts.bc.ca or 250-386-6121 bluebridgecomedyfestival.com