All’s Snowy on the Western Front

This weekend kicked off my Christmas corporate season, which for those that aren’t in the comedy biz is a busy, stressful but fun and lucrative time of year.
I started out on Thursday, flying into Regina a day early for my Friday night gig.  If possible, I like flying in the day before because it gives me time to relax and eat potato chips from a vending machine while claiming I had no other choice because it was too cold outside to walk to the grocery store.

Unfortunately for my wallet, my hotel was across from Shoppers Drug Mart and I spent 137$ on makeup that was promised to be super different from the makeup that I already own.  That’s one thing about turning 40 this year – I have gone from traveling with one small makeup bag to two makeup bags plus the plastic carry-on security bag for the extras.  UGH – why do men with no makeup look like humans and women with no makeup look like they just woke up from a coma.  hashtag not fair.

Regina was great and not too cold and my gig was in the same hotel in which I was staying – which for comedians is a HUGE plus.  When all you have to do is walk downstairs, perform and then hit the hotel bar after – this is what dreams are made of!  Rumour has it that this hotel also had a gym, but who can investigate every crazy claim made on a website?
Saturday morning I flew to Edmonton and while in the airport I began to receive texts about the bad weather that was waiting for me once I arrived.  Edmonton was being hit with the (first?) big snow dump of the year and things were getting a bit crazy on the roads.  Weeks before when I had rented my vehicle, I had chosen an SUV and I’m so glad I did.  The two hour drive to Vermilion wasn’t as bad as I thought, even though there were lots of cars on the side of the road and a semi-truck that was all folded up and stuck in the opposite lane.
Being from BC, I hate driving in the snow and always assume that I will be the slowest person on the road.  This was not the case.  I realized that most people don’t like driving in conditions that could see them slide off the road and into a pole.  I also realized that if you have driven from BC to Alberta in the snow, you tend to be a cautious driver, but one that also appreciates that sliding off the road in Edmonton means into a field, whereas sliding off the road going through Rogers Pass means – goodbye, you’re dead.
Driving back Saturday was much better and after dropping my rental back at the airport I took the airport shuttle back into Edmonton where I am staying for a couple days of R&R before taping the Debaters on Tuesday night.

The Edmonton Skyshuttle is a great way to get from the airport into the city without spending 50$ on a taxi. It is not a great way to travel however.  Upon arriving at the counter, I was told they had sold 9 of the 10 seats and couldn’t sell me a seat until they squished everyone else in the van.  I was greatly relieved to be told that in fact they could squish me into the shuttle and I wouldn’t have to wait an hour for the next one. (I would have sprung for the cab rather than wait – come on, I’m 40 after all).  I really enjoyed the part where everyone on the shuttle watched as I tried to shuffle into the very back of the van and then balance half my arse not the shuttle seat.  I snuggled next to the stranger beside me, knowing there was no way in hell I could put my seatbelt on, but also knowing I probably wouldn’t go flying because the part of the seatbelt the buckle goes into was firmly pressed into my tailbone, where it will probably stay for the rest of my time on earth.

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NIGHT ONE @ ATB Edmonton Comedy Festival!

Kicking off the fourth annual Edmonton Comedy Festival was great fun and we weren’t just laughing, we were raising money as well! The night was sponsored by ATB Financial and not only donated proceeds from ticket sales to the fight against Breast Cancer, but also included inviting twenty women from their ‘Empower U’ program to enjoy the evening. Empower U is a program helping women from diverse backgrounds that are experiencing low-income and poverty.  Participants are given the opportunity to improve their financial literacy and make informed decisions about their finances.  It was great to know such a deserving group was in the audience enjoying (we hope) the night!

Men were banned from seeing the show, so we driven to the venue and then our driver left – it felt very Saudi Arabia – except that we were going to drink alcohol and loudly voice our opinions.

I was the host and opened the show, followed by Toronto comedian Karen O’Keefe, Las Vegas based Kristeen Von Hagen and headlining the night was Florida comedian Mary-Ellen Hooper.

 

 

 

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Four Days of Fun in Edmonton!

I’ve just arrived in Edmonton Alberta for the, I believe, fourth ATB Comedy Festival and I’m looking forward to four days of performing and hanging out with my comedy friends!

First up is the Dynamic Dames show, which will be an awesome evening of some of the funnies ladies around! Kristeen Von HagenOKeefe_HS, multiple-winner of Canadian Comedy Awards Funniest Female Comic and Karen O’Keefe, who can be heard both on CBC Radio’s The Debaters and Sirius XM are joined by headliner Mary-Ellen Hooper at this show for women only!

For tickets please visit ATBCOMEDY.COM

Maryellen_Hooper
Cottage Country-7579

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CBC Radio’s The Debaters in Edmonton November 25!

Get Ready Edmonton, CBC’s smash radio hit The Debaters is coming to town on November 25 2014!

If you haven’t heard the Debaters on CBC radio – what are you thinking?  A hilarious mix of fact and funny, The Debaters sees (hears) two comics go head to head debating topics in the news and on the minds of Canadians.

 

On November 25th, I am fortunate enough to debate the very funny Julie Kim on regifting.  What do you think?

Here’s the info you’re going to need:

We’ll be at the Myer Horowitz Theatre on the UofA Campus on Tue Nov 25 at 7:30 pm.  Tickets at

http://www.ticketfly.com/purchase/event/693825/tfly

 

 

Vancouver comedy, naked bike rides & UFC

You know how when someone pops over to your house (or apartment if you live in Vancouver) and you weren’t expecting them and the entire time they’re sitting in your living room having coffee you’re obsessing over the idea that they might want to use your bathroom?

Thats how I feel whenever people come to Vancouver and it’s raining. I spend the whole weekend saying things like ‘usually it’s stunning’  or ‘normally people aren’t so suicidal’.

I was super excited to be hosting at The Comedy Mix for Jen Kirkman  and if I were to be 100% honest there was a tiny part of me that wanted to introduce her to the oh-so-Vancouver standup paddle board yoga class but the rain ruined everything.

What was left over was the naked bike ride and a falafel tour that would see you eat 17 falafels in a two block radius and quite frankly neither one of those is really trip advisor worthy-

 

Spring Dates Announced!

SPRINGDATES14After a whirlwind 5 week vacation through Kauai & Japan, I’m super excited to be back in my lovely hometown of Vancouver, BC and getting back on stage.

Breakfast

21 Day Fix – Day 1

Quick recap of my first day of  The 21 Day Fix –

The 21 Day Fix is a bit different from the other Beachbody programs I’ve done because it actively engages with you on the diet side of the program.
Don’t get me wrong, both Turbo Fire and Chalean Extreme came with excellent nutrion guides complete with recipes and inspiration for meals and snacks, but the portioning system of The 21 Day Fix takes it to the next level.

My Basket'O food When I began to plan my meals for Day 1, I started to become overwhelmed with what I would eat when and how I would make sure I didn’t blow through all the food by 2pm.  I decided to portion everything out the night before and keep it in a little plastic basket in the fridge.  It worked great!
I also set silent alarms on my FITBIT Flex, to remind me to eat every 2.5 hours as some times I get busy and forget to eat for five hours.
I was blown away by how well this worked and that I wasn’t starving throughout the day.  I also realized that just because I had a portion of yogurt and blackberries, I didn’t have to eat the whole portion at once.  I split up the yogurt and had a little bit for breakfast with blackberries and then repeated that for a 3:30 snack.
Speaking of 3:30…this was the only time that I felt really hungry, and perhaps going to Costco was a bad idea because I felt like sample-ladies were jumping out from behind every corner to offer me snacks.  I went to grab a 24 pack of sparkling water, as The 21 Day Fix comes with recipes for a ‘water bar’, so you can make cocktails with mint and lemon and cucumbers.  I think I’ve had 47 glasses of soda water since yesterday.  It does help me feel full and I enjoy it – but missing my red wine just a tiny bit.
So…what about the workout?
I have to admit that when I watched the workout the night before ‘Day 1′, I was pretty convinced that this wouldn’t be challenging enough after doing 60 minute Turbo Fire Cardio workouts.  About 3 minutes in, I knew I way underestimated  The 21 Day Fix cardio workout.  It really got my heart-rate up and I was sweating.
The exercises mostly combining cardio with a weight – which reminded me of some of the 30 Day Shred training I did last year.  Autumn Calabrese is motivational and I like her pep talks throughout the exercises.  There’s also a very visible chalkboard in the background that says “1 pound at a time” which is such a kick-ass motivator, especially if you’re just beginning and have a lot of weight to lose.  Whether you are 300 pounds or 165 pounds, weight-loss happens exactly the same way – one pound at a time.

Calories burned in 30 minutes 425
One Down – 20 Days to go!
– Erica.

Getting set for the 21 day Fix

21 Day Fix – Twas The Night Before…

After much anticipation – the newest program from BeachBody was released in early February.  It’s almost a year to the day that I order Turbo Fire – the program I credit as being my Soulmate workout! I love it – After that I tried Insanity – went back to Turbo Fire and then ordered Chalean Extreme – which is mostly about building muscle.  I loved, loved, loved this program.
Why am I trying the 21 Day Fix?  I’m intrigued by the portion control part of the program – and it’s only 21 days – and I’m going to Hawaii on March 12th.  The most difficult thing for me will be replacing my lovely red wine with sparkling water with mint – I’m not sure it’ll have the same effect.

So…I’m committing to 21 days of really prepping my food ahead of time and the workouts included by fitness trainer and bikini model Autumn Calabrese- I’m also going to update on everything – is it enough food?  Are the workouts hard?  Am I under the table shaking and crying because sparkling mint-water doesn’t have the same effect as Shiraz?

This is what I’ve done so far:

Picked up my 21 day program at UPS.  I was shocked at how small the box containing everything was.  I knew there were food containers so I assumed a giant box.  It was not.  In fact when I opened the box and saw how small the portion containers were, I felt slightly panicked.  So here’s what the containers are:
Green – Veggies
Purple- Fruit
Red – Protein
Yellow – Carb

Blue – good fats like avocado

orange – seeds or olives/peanuts
teaspoon (not provided – use your own) – oils

The nutrition book gives you an equation to do to figure out what your calorie intake should be and then the chart shows you what you can eat – For me: 3 green 2 purple 4 red 2 yellow 1 blue 1 orange 2 tsp –

I realized pretty quickly how many orange and blue containers I typically throw in on one of my power salads – I love avocado and olive oil and feta cheese.  I’ve been gobbling down way too much fat, even if it is the good kind.

What I decided to do tonight, the eve of the first day tomorrow, was to measure things out and figure out what I would be eating.  It was a little overwhelming actually.  Even now as I have all the food on my counter, I’m not 100% sure what I will eat for what meal.  Particularly dinner – So far it looks like I’m have a tiny cube of quinoa and some chicken- maybe I’ll throw mustard on there just because it’s a ‘free’ food.

I’ve definitely decided to go to Canadian Tire tomorrow and buy some small mason jars and measure out a bunch of servings of different stuff – the yogurt, cucumbers etc – so it’s just easier to grab it and go –

I’m also pretty interested in how well my blood sugars react to this.  Also, being super stringent with what I’m eating means planning out exactly when to work out so my sugar doesn’t go low and I have to add extra calories to bring it up. Of course if my sugars were low I would care about the calories to bring it up – but If I can keep ahead of it – all the better.

I watched the first workout, which will be done tomorrow and it definitely doesn’t look as challenging as what I’ve been doing in Turbofire, but we’ll see.  I will report back.
Tomorrow I will also report how many calories I burned according to my Heart Rate Monitor.

– Until then –
Erica.

What’s up tomorrow: Total Body Cardio.

Visiting Kelowna BC

I’ve had the great pleasure of visiting and performing standup comedy in Kelowna a half-dozen times in the last 12 months and I never tire of it.

The Delta Grande Okanagon is where I get to stay most often and it really is a superb hotel and conference centre.  You can tell just by the ‘e’ on the ‘Grande’ that we’re not going to a run-of-the-mill hotel.

In December I was fortunate enough to stay there for two nights when I opened for Gerry Dee and stayed on the 9th floor which gave me access to the Club Lounge which not only  included continental breakfast but appies between 430-730.  The lounge is also a beautiful large room over looking the lake and I spent many hours up there working while enjoying access to the espresso machine and complimentary still and sparkling water as well as soda.

If you’re looking for a great meal in Kelowna, head to Raudz on Water St. for an absolutely amazing experience.  This is the third time I’ve been to Raudz and every time I’ve been there the food has been outstanding and the overall vibe was friendly and definitely this was a favourite among the locals.

The shopping on Bernard St is an eclectic  mix of fashion, accessories and homewares – I especially like Funk-tional for the mix of locally designed and not too expensive jewellery.

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It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas!

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After over a decade of performing comedy in comedy clubs, theatres, hotel ballrooms and conference centres, I’d thought I’d put together a quick post for all those who have been put in charge of planning their office holiday party – or even more stressful yet – hiring an entertainer.

There are seemingly endless varieties of entertainers you can hire for your company party, but I’m going to jump right to ‘how to hire a comedian’ because that is, after all, what I do.

 

Erica’s Top 5 tips for hiring a comedian:

#1. Venue.

Standup comedy works best with great sound, a seated audience and a dark room with a spotlight on the performer.  The only one of these three that can be really sacrificed is the spotlight.  If your event involves people wandering around – standup comedy will almost never work.

Many holiday parties are done without the spotlight, but good sound and seating are key.  If you are using round tables, whoever is introducing the comedian should ask people to turn and face the stage.

Most people in the crowd realize two minutes into a performance that they are craning their necks, but are too shy to make a fuss and turn around.

#2. The Dance Floor.

I’d guess that 50% of the parties I perform at over the holidays involve a stage with sound equipment, a DJ and me all facing an empty dance floor.
The tables have been set up around the dance floor causing what is often referred to in the comedy business as ‘the comedy moat’.
Comedy works best with the audience close to the stage, as seen in almost every single comedy club across the continent.  A giant empty space in between the comedian and the audience and it’s hard to feel connected.

You’ve paid good money for a comic, have the tables set up on the dance floor and ask the catering staff to move them before the dancing.

#3. You Get What You Pay For.

It’s nice how I hid this right in the middle, because it’s generally something that you’re told right before someone quotes you a price and milk may or may not fly out your nose.  But it’s true.

Look for a comedian who has references,  and/or television credits.  TV credits let you know s/he has been given a guideline of content and language restrictions and worked within them.

There’s no shortage of people who will offer up their comedic stylings for a ridiculously low price, but if they’re the only people telling you they’re funny – that could be a warning sign.

#4. Language & Content.

I can only speak for myself here, but I’m sure many other comics feel the same way when they say they have no desire to offend a group of people out for a turkey dinner with their coworkers.  Most of us are pretty good at reading a crowd and if we walk into a party full of octogenarians, we’re probably not going to talk about twitter for thirty minutes.

I use this to describe content, and it seems to make it clear to both parties.
  TV Clean- this means any content you may see on television that airs before 11pm on a network.  I find this is usually the best for corporate shows because it’s not offensive but also not bland.  I usually refer to Two and a Half Men as the benchmark of content. There will be innuendo but nothing graphic and possibly a few light curse words but nothing profane.  

If you have someone in your organization that you are afraid might be offended, I suggest letting them know ahead of time there is a comedian performing and if at any time they want to step out, no big deal.
*if there will be children in attendance – let the comic know well in advance, not the day of the performance.

#5. Where to put a comedian?

It is always greatly appreciated when a client invites the comic to come for dinner before the performance, but the invitation is rarely accepted.

Most comics don’t like to eat right before a show.

I sometimes like to poke my head in the room and look at the audience, but eating a meal and engaging in small talk is tough to do when you’re in a pre-show headspace.
It sounds anti-social, but before performing comics generally like to sit at the back of a room or back stage alone with their note book and a water or a beer.

A little prep can go a long way and save you heaps of stress on the day of your holiday party!

PROMO VIDEOS

Upcoming Events

  1. ATB EDMONTON COMEDY FESTIVAL – DYNAMITE DAMES GALA

    October 15 @ 7:00 pm - 10:00 pm
  2. ATB Edmonton Comedy Festival – Media Challenge

    October 16 @ 8:00 pm - 10:00 pm
  3. ATB Comedy Festival – Comedy Unleashed Gala

    October 17 @ 10:00 pm
  4. ATB Edmonton Comedy Festival – Comedy On Whyte

    October 18 @ 8:00 pm - 10:00 pm
  5. ATB Edmonton Comedy Festival

    October 18 @ 10:00 pm

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