A Guide to Good Laughs: Dissecting the Whitehorse comedy scene

Tired of doing the old smile-and-nod routine because your boss thinks he’s Jerry Seinfeld?

Experience some real comedy in Whitehorse.

Anthony Trombetta, Jenny Hamilton, and George Maratos, three veterans of the local comedy scene, guide us through the main comedy venues in Yukon’s capital.

Jarvis Street Saloon

Whitehorse’s most regular venue, The Jarvis Street Saloon (a.k.a. the 202) hosts an open-mic comedy night every second Thursday.

It offers a rugged comedy experience.

“The 202 can be a bit of a challenging venue because not everyone’s there for the comedy, so from a comedian’s perspective it can be a bit daunting,” says Maratos. “They’re not always listening and sometimes they’re talking loud over you. But I kinda like it — it builds a tough skin.”

Hamilton agrees.

“It’s a different experience than when people have come to actually see you,” she says. “If you can catch their attention when they’re watching hockey or playing pool, you know you’re doing well.”

“We’ve had some epic, epic nights at the 202,” says Trombetta. “We get to work some new stuff out, or re-work old bits. It’s like our only comedy gym, and nobody’s paying anything so there’s no skin off the audience.”

The venue itself offers a large space with a big stage. The free laughs start at 9 p.m.

If you’ve got jokes you’re welcome to get up and show your stuff. If you don’t have jokes but still want on stage, comedy is followed by karaoke at 11 p.m.

The next show is July 18, followed by August 1.

The Guild Hall

Perhaps the closest thing Whitehorse has to an actual comedy club, The Guild Hall likes to host once per month.

The Guild’s theatre vibe is reflected in the venue itself, the comedy routines, and the audience.

Shows tend to be tighter, while leaving room for something different.

Trombetta, Hamilton and Maratos all admit bias toward The Guild: Trombetta is the current president, Hamilton the manager, and Maratos has been on the board. However, it’s a bias that has come from doing time there – on stage as well as behind the scenes.

“People will have tried, true and tested material,” says Trombetta. “But because it’s a theatre, people will do some experimental stuff sometimes. Like some weird character comedy.”

“It’s a learning venue,” says Hamilton. “We encourage the newbie’s to come up here before they want to play downtown or somewhere else. We call it a soft audience or friendlier audience at The Guild. More of a theatre crowd.”

“The Guild’s kind of my second home,” says Maratos. “I’ve been involved in a lot of theatre shows there and I’ve done a lot of comedy there. [The audience] has made the effort to go and are really keen to take it in. I love The Guild.”

The venue is compact, but utilizes the space well. Rows of seats on an incline all face toward centre stage.

The next comedy show at The Guild Hall will be on Friday, July 26, featuring comedians imported from down south. Shows at The Guild are usually on the third Saturday of each month, but that can change. Tickets are generally $5.

For more information, check out www.GuildHall.ca or find them on Facebook.

Rah Rah Gallery

There is generally one show per month here. And if you have an infectious laugh they’d love to have you because they film some of the performances. The shows run on community cable 9, with the third episode about to air.

Trombetta runs the show, and acknowledges the camera’s influence on the performances.

“Those shows are a little different, because they are an hour and a really tight show,” Trombetta says. “It’s not open-mic, nobody’s trying any new stuff or being experimental. That one’s pretty much experienced comics.”

The venue is small, and lacks a formal stage, but Trombetta believes that lends itself well to the televised format.

“For the TV tapings it’s actually perfect,” he says. “On TV it gives the impression of a giant, full room. At a bigger venue like Jarvis you’d have to do a lot of work to pack that place.”

“It’s unique in that it’s essentially a coffee shop so it’s quite intimate.” says Maratos. “It’s also paid attendance so you get a real comedy crowd.”

“You learn different things from different sized venues,” says Hamilton. “(At the Rah Rah you can see most of your audience because they are right there in front of you. You get in somewhere like the Arts Centre and it’s just not the same.”

Tickets at the Rah Rah Gallery are $5. For more information visit www.Facebook.com/RahRahGallery.

Other Venues

Keep your eyes peeled for special comedy events at venues like Baileys Pub & Grill, The Old Fire Hall and the Yukon Arts Centre.

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