Story and photos by Sarah Crookall
Fuelled by funnies and food, Stuttering John’s Smokehouse erupted the heart of downtown Oshawa with laughter last Thursday evening.
A comedy night, which began in January, seated a full house at the Simcoe Street restaurant. And to accommodate demand, the originally bi-weekly show quickly expanded into a weekly event.
“Really what it was set up for was to give people the opportunity to utilize the stage in the area, because most of the comics in this area go out of town to Toronto for the ability to use the stage,” said event co-ordinator Marko Ivancicevic. “It gives people the opportunity to give it a shot for the first time”
First timers stretch their funny bones while seasoned comics test the waters of new material. To date, the 905 East Open-Mic Comedy Night has seen a wide range of acts, marking over 50 comics to date. Acts include comics featured on the Yuk Yuks comedy tour.
Unlike Toronto venues with typical five-minute time slots, the 905 comics are given more leeway—including up to 10 minutes of time to perform.
Host Darren Pyle said, “What’s good about it now is because the room has been established for a while and it’s always a fun time here, we’re getting comics coming out from Toronto.”
With a knack for laughs himself, Pyle knows comedy isn’t all fits and giggles.
“Some people stick to their material because banter is something that develops over time, it’s not something that’s easy to do,” he said. “Eventually as you get more comfortable you’ll start playing with the audience more, but it can be a recipe for disaster too.”
“It was a high,” said comic first-timer and former Oshawa councilor, April Cullen. While Cullen had just 36 hours to prepare for her skit, an interest in comedy brought her to the event on previous nights. Visiting proved to be encouragement in the right direction. “It was so much fun and the crowd was really supportive,” she said.
Adding to the entertainment of the night, special guest and former WWE wrestler Val Venis attended and announced plans for an in-school advocacy tour against prescription drug abuse.
Like Thursday, every night is different. “We do have some staples who are always funny, like Matt Henry, Lincoln Trudeau,” said restaurant owner Johnathon Boville.
But whether they’re laughing with or at comics, the audience is guaranteed inexpensive entertainment beginning at 8 p.m. “There is no cover so you can come in for dinner and a comedy show for fifteen bucks— a pretty cheap night out,” said Boville.
Specializing in old fashioned southern-style ribs and pulled pork, Stuttering John’s was recently nominated for six reader’s choice awards with Oshawa This Week .
“The food is amazing here,” said Pyle. “The price is right. You can’t beat free, and you’re guaranteed some laughs.”