A tsunami of funny breaking in Calgary’s comedy clubs

Matt Wall, ‘chief hilarious officer’ of The Laugh Shop at the Hotel Blackfoot in Calgary, has been in the comedy business for 18 years.

With the roaring popularity of podcasts and Netflix, comedy is once again flourishing world-wide, and especially in Calgary.,

The city has been a hot spot for comedy for years.

With venues like The Comedy Cave, Yuk Yuk’s and the Laugh Shop, fans have options when it comes to seeking out a good laugh.

One of the more popular clubs in the city, The Laugh Shop has been operating out of the Hotel Blackfoot for about three decades.

It continues to bring some of comedy’s biggest names to the intimate 300-seat venue on Blackfoot Trail S.E., just north of Glenmore Trail.

“Our room is big enough that people can come and see how a crowd will react to new material, and intimate enough to get good feedback,” says Matt Wall, the club’s manager.

Wall, “chief hilarious officer” and the club’s main booker, has been in the comedy business for almost 20 years.

He has taken note of the resurgence in the comedy market flourishing once again.

It reminds Wall of the comedy boom in the ’80s that saw some of genre’s biggest stars, likw Sam Kinison, Andrew Dice Clay, Roseanne Barr and Eddie Murphy.

On top of the main comedy venues, many other local pubs hold open mic nights, giving local performers a chance to work on new material in hopes of playing the bigger stages later on.

Local talent has been flocking to popular open mics at locations like Broken City and Oak Tree among many others.

“The talent is the most important part of our operation. Without the talent, we are just another one of the 2,700 bars in Calgary serving beer,” said Wall in an interview.

A number of local performers, such as Linnea Ward, Brett Forte, Dale Ward and Sam Walker, have been moving the scene forward.

Walker has been around the Calgary scene since 2015 and is constantly playing shows and honing his craft.

“The Calgary comedy scene has given me valuable opportunities to make it to the professional level. It’s a mostly supportive community that I’ve been a part of for years.  Major talent is breaking out of here and it’s only going to get hotter,” said Walker.

Calgary has been super responsive with showing interest in the talent that we bring through. – Matt Wall

“I can’t think of a time as long as I’ve been alive when comedy has been as popular. Comedy has always been outside of the mainstream,” added Wall.

Calgary has been important for many big time comedians due to its venue choices and intimate crowd settings.

The Laugh Shop hosts some of the biggest names in the world of comedy in any given month. It has hosted names like Roseanne Barr, Nick Cannon, Shawn and Marlon Wayans, Drew Carey and Chris Tucker among others.

“Don’t ever lose focus on what it is that your customers want. I’ve seen club owners try and steer their guests in a direction of what they think is groundbreaking,” said Wall.

“Sometimes people want to see screech, and if that is the case give them screech,” he said.

About Jordan Stricker 3 Articles
As a news reporting and communications major in the journalism program at SAIT, Jordan Stricker is working as a writer for The Press during the 2018-19 academic year.