David Green is one of the hardest working comics in Niagara. Last year he added Festival Director to his resume and started the process of expanding the comedy scene here in order to put the Garden City on the map in the comedy world. We have the talent and the venues, so he decided to create a homegrown festival that takes place in downtown St. Catharines. The inaugural festival exceeded expectations and Green is looking forward to the second act.
What did you expect from the first one, and how has it been modified for this year?
I wasn’t really sure what to expect from the first one, but I had a pretty strong sense that it was something the community would get behind.
This year we’ve been able to do much more planning and tried to improve on all areas. We’ve upped the ante with higher profile acts on multiple nights as well as adding an extra show. We’ve still maintained our all-local Niagara All Stars Comedy Charity partnership with Pathstone Mental Health which I feel is very important. Plus we expanded the Niagara’s Top Comic contest from 32 local acts to 40.
I think an important question to ask is: how important has Showtime Comedy and Entertainment been in growing our comedy scene?
Without Showtime, would comedy be able to succeed the way it has in Niagara? Showtime has been so integral in growing comedy in st Catharines. Having a full-time club right downtown and accessible to everyone has helped it to become a staple as part of the downtown arts scene.
The amateur nights have seen rise to many exciting new comics in the area in the past two years and it’s so great that we can provide them a professional space to perform and supportive crowds to help them hone their craft.
Where do you see areas that the comedy scene needs to grow in Niagara?
I would like to see more women performing to be honest. When I first started performing in Niagara I only knew of one female comic in the area. This year at Niagara’s Top Comic we have eight female comics competing but I would love to see that grow in the future.
What were some of your favourite moments from last years festival?
Walking into the Cairns Hall at the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre before the show and having the lighting technician light up the stage really got me excited. It looked amazing and I just couldn’t wait because I knew what a great night the sold out crowd was in for. I also loved hanging out with all the comics backstage in the dressing room and feeling the buzz of excitement as we waited to begin. Seeing Patrick Alexander win Niagara’s Top Comic after only performing stand up a handful of times and then crushing his set at the Gala was also a great moment to witness.
I think that Showtime has put St. Catharines on the map for comedy, and we now have a handful of other venues in Niagara hosting comedy. What do you see happening next and what does it mean for you as a comedian?
Onwards and upwards! We have a long term plan in place to slowly build up the festival so that it comes a world class event. The infrastructure is already in place with high class venues like Showtime, the FirstOntario PAC and eventually we would like to bring in world-class comics to headline the Meridian Centre. As for myself I will definitely be taking advantage of the stage time opportunities in the region at present and continue striving to be as funny as I can be. When I started performing many people told me if I wanted to make it in comedy I would have to leave Niagara and move to Toronto. I want to prove to people that it’s possible to be successful and still be a proud Niagara resident. The future is bright and I can’t wait to see what it will bring 10 years down the line.
You can find more information about the festival at gardencitycomedyfestival.com