By Joseph Blake
Monday Magazine contributor
Critics call Derek Edwards “the king of Canadian comedy” and “a comedian’s comedian.” Canadian comedy star Rick Mercer says “Everyone knows Derek is the funniest man in Canada.”
Edwards brings that reputation and his act to Sidney’s Mary Winspear Centre Thursday, May 30.
A Just For Laughs veteran and stand-up comedy great who tours almost 220 shows a year from St. John’s to Las Vegas, Edwards has multiple Gemini Award nominations and won a Canadian Comedy Award as Best Stand-up Comedian.
Talking by phone from his home in Toronto before launching the upcoming All’s I’m Saying tour in Sidney, Edwards describes the tour title as a common expression used in his northern Ontario youth, a tagline to almost any sentence, “all’s I’m saying.”
The veteran comedian riffs on his roots in Timmins, Shania Twain, Las Vegas, and an elderly fan in Cochrane, Ont. who handed him a handful of homegrown joints after a show, then moves on to a hockey talk joke and his beloved Leafs.
“Maybe I’ll get some time on a golf course during my visit to Vancouver Island in late May … maybe meet some Leafs out there.”
Edwards doesn’t actually say “all’s I’m saying,” but I imagine his catchphrase after his subtle hockey joke. Instead he says, ‘Every part of the country is a little different, but you can’t miss with a joke about Toronto.”
He began his comedy career at a Toronto amateur night when he was 28, after working numerous jobs including as a waiter, miner, and tree planter.
“I bombed that first night,” Edwards laments, “but my second show did great. I had a good job with a painting company at the time, and I started working the comedy circuit on weekends.”
He names George Carlin as his comedic hero and Norm Macdonald as his favourite Canadian funnyman. Edwards’ twisted observational bits about Mad Cow Disease (told from the herd’s point of view) and his darkly funny fear of dogs remind me of Carlin and Macdonald’s work, as does my favourite Derek Edwards riff on bank tellers timing their lunch breaks with their clients’ lunch hour banking. He compares the inherent frustration in this scene with an imaginary restaurant staff’s similar lunch break scheduling.
We talk about his performance preparation, Edwards describing pre-show walks and “hopefully chats with somebody to get an idea about the sensibilities of the local community.”
When I ask about political comedy, he says “during the last couple of tours I’ve had to vent a little about the orange man to the south. It’s so much fun, but my show is basically an escape hatch from all that. It’s a chance for my audience to forget their cares and worries for 90 minutes.”
Tickets for Derek Edwards’ show at the Mary Winspear Centre are $47.50. Visit marywinspear.ca/events-and-programs for more information or to buy tickets online, or call 250-656-0275.