Roman Danylo knows how to make you laugh

Buy your tickets early for Thursday night’s comedy show at the Yukon Arts Centre so that you can get a good seat in the back.

You see, Roman Danylo is one of those comics who gets the audience involved. If you sit too close to the front, you may end up in a slow-motion shoot out with him. Or you may have to die in his arms for great, improvised, comedic effect.

Comedic effect? Probably. It is important to know that Danylo is a journeyman comedian who has trained in voice, acting, improvisation, singing and fencing.

Over the past 20 years, he has performed in such movies as Duets (the desk clerk in Albuquerque) and Free Willy 3: The Rescue (the pizza kid). And he has performed stand-up comedy from Las Vegas to Kelowna and from Montréal to Winnipeg.

Danylo knows funny. So, if you are the one who has to die in his arms, then you are in good hands.

His is the career that has taken him to the Just For Laughs Improv Championships and The Holmes Show.

Since 2002, he has starred in CTV’s Comedy Inc., a sketch comedy show that has won the Gold Medal Award for Best TV Variety Program from the New York Festivals two years in a row.

And he has paid his dues: “There have been some horrible, horrible environments,” he says over the phone from his Vancouver home.

“In Kelowna, I followed an extreme bikini dance team.

“I had a couple recently where the M.C. said, ‘Here is your comic for the night’ and, just as I’m coming out, they say, ‘Hey, you know what, let’s take a break first’.”

It is experiences like these that has encouraged Danylo to pull together this road show: “We comics are just thrown to the elements – drunks, no sound system – so I said, ‘I want only the ideal environment with everyone facing the same direction’.”

So, the show is a mix of stand up, improvisation and sketches.

“It is the best of the stuff I’ve done over the years,” he says. “Some from the television show [Comedy Inc.], like my David Caruso.”

He will get help with the improvisation, first from a friend and fellow comedian, Drew McCreadie.

Then, of course, he will look for volunteers from the audience and, at the end of the show, he will invite up local improvisation artists. He has already made contact with the comedic network in Whitehorse and is making plans with them.

Isn’t it more difficult doing improvisation with people you don’t know? “Sometimes it is fun to throw caution to the wind,” he says. “We consider this the ‘DVD extra features’ portion.

The stand up portion of the show will include mostly tried and tested material. But there will also be local references he will goof on.

“Everywhere we go, we find out what is going on in the town and that always works itself in.

“Goose poo in Regina was a big issue.”

Danylo has been to the Nakai Theatre’s comedy festival before, so he knows something of the Yukon already. He will also pick the brains of the taxi drivers and earnest writers who try to interview him over the phone.

This is not just a new-town, new-joke regimen. This is a daily routine for the comic.

“I carry around little notepads, write it down right away, and keep those 5X7 cards to organize them so I can reference them.”

Like what?

“I find mistakes funny … awkwardness and mistakes. YouTube Bloopers have me hooked.

“For instance, I am in a relationship right now and I am getting used to saying ‘I love you’ a lot and it comes out at awkward times.

“A lot of things about technology we find awkward and how we deal with it.”

It must be irritating being his friend.

“Yeah, I do drive my friends and family crazy because I whip out these cards … then there is a lot of negotiating going on.

“I used to do a lot of Mom Jokes and then, one day, I had a CBC special and she didn’t phone me for weeks.”

Comedy has taken Danylo to the United States and he is finding audiences are different there: “I did a week in Vegas and it was weird and I realized how little I knew about America. I’d say, ‘Where are you from?’ and they’d say, ‘North Carolina’ and I got nothing. Nothing.

“And Vegas is a very strange place because you get people who don’t normally go to a comedy show but they have a package deal for a buffet and comedy show.

“Overall, they have different sensibilities, they don’t get the ironies and subtleties. In the States, it is more ba-ba-bing every five seconds.

“In Canada, we tell stories and try to charm the audience.”

Danylo will be charming the audience at the Yukon Arts Centre Thursday, Nov. 13, at 8 p.m. Tickets are available at Arts Underground and the Yukon Arts Centre Box Office.

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