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Kwasi Thomas curates standup acts at Pi’s Phucking Phunny Celebration of Comedy

Kwasi Thomas
Kwasi Thomas says one of the keys to standup-comedy success is relatability.

Comedian and actor Kwasi Thomas knows how tough it is to hit the sweet spot in a standup routine.

“You always have to be writing,” Thomas tells Pancouver. “You always have to be paying attention.”

Then he adds two other important traits: relatability and storytelling ability.

“I think the best comics of us all are the most relatable comedians,” he insists. “You can take a story that is personal to you, but the details of which—and the situationality—you can share with other people. And other people will have gone through that in their own way, so you’re giving them new perspective.”

As an example, Thomas mentions how Dave Chappelle’s routines have included commentary on the difficulties he’s having with networks that air comedy specials.

“I’m not talking about his views on certain sexualities,” Thomas emphasizes. “I’m talking about his dealings with the studios and stuff like that.”

He points out that almost everyone has to deal with a boss. And that’s where Chappelle’s relatability comes into play. “He’s talking about HBO, but he’s also talking about our superiors in the workplace.”

All of this weighed on Thomas’s mind when Pi Theatre asked him to curate standup performances at Little Mountain Gallery on Saturday (May 4) evening. Pi’s Phucking Phunny Celebration of Comedy, which is part of the theatre company’s Provocateurs Series, has three sections.

The first round, beginning at 7:30, features Sean McDonnell, Eden Kaminski, and Sahara Bayley. They’re described as “emerging local talent” on the Pi Theatre website. However, Thomas declares that they are not newcomers to comedy.

Thomas loves good storytelling

Moreover, he feels that they each deserve far more recognition.

“They’re all really, really hard workers and they’re giving everything they’ve got to getting to be better and better comedians,” Thomas says. “And it’s something that I appreciate because I’ve seen waves and waves of comics come and go. They come, they don’t get their special immediately, so they disappear from the scene.”

He describes McDonnell as one of the funniest new comedians that he’s seen, as well as one of the kindest people that he knows. Thomas says that Bayley is very charming and brings great energy to the stage, which invites audiences in. As for Kaminski, Thomas applauds how she crafts her jokes and formats her stories.

The second part of Pi’s Phucking Phunny Celebration of Comedy commences at 9 p.m. with “comedy royalty” Gavin Clarkson, Katie-Ellen Humphries, and Ryan Williams.

“All three of them are headliners in their own right,” Thomas says.

He decided to begin with Humphries because of her feisty attitude and strong storytelling prowess. According to Thomas, this will give this segment “a good pop at the beginning”.

Next up will be Clarkson. Thomas’s storytelling, as well as his calmness and confidence, will help glue the set together. Then, the program will conclude with Williams, whom Thomas describes as a “stick of dynamite”.

“I asked Ryan because I just wanted to end the show with an absolute bang.”

Following the stand-up comedy, Tightrope Impro Theatre will present their improv show F*ck Marry, Kill.

As part of its Provocateurs Series, Pi Theatre will present Pi’s Phucking Phunny Celebration of Comedy at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday (May 4) at Little Mountain Gallery (110 Water Street). For tickets and more information, visit the Pi Theatre website.

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Charlie Smith

Charlie Smith

Pancouver editor Charlie Smith has worked as a Vancouver journalist in print, radio, and television for more than three decades.

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We would like to acknowledge that we are gathered on the traditional and unceded territories of the Coast Salish peoples of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations. With this acknowledgement, we thank the Indigenous peoples who still live on and care for this land.