NANAIMO — Peter Hudson called stand-up comedy in Nanaimo almost non-existent a decade ago.
The construction worker by day turned comedian at night now describes the art form locally as vibrant and exploding in popularity.
Hudson, 42, who began performing regularly eight years ago, now headlines shows and appears in festivals thanks to experience gained in venues like Nanaimo living rooms in front of a handful of friends.
“I went out my third time on stage and I thought I was a headliner and you find out really quickly you're not a headliner, you have to do the work. It's all just learning and growing pains.” Hudson told NanaimoNewsNOW.
Hudson, who said his style is edgy and boundary-pushing, plied his trade on the microphone in small shows along with four other perfomers. He said there are now 15 to 20 comics entertaining crowds regularly in Nanaimo. He said the increased talent pool allows for regular shows, including open mics where artists can gain experience in low-pressure settings.
As for personal on-stage memories, Hudson said a show in the small community of Mannville, Alberta stands out.
He said his routine was abrubtly cut short following his opening line.
“I told my friends that I was in a place called Mannville and they thought I was in a gay bar in Vancouver. Pretty funny right? But this guy threw a chair at me! It was pretty awkward and scary. Four guys had to hold him back, he just didn't get it.”
Hudson has mentored many new comics over the last few years in a bid to help grow a trade close to his heart.
“I'll go for a coffee with them, I help them write, I'll help them with whatever they need. It's such a small scene here that we all have to be supportive.”
Nanaimo's Ty Lemmon, a 34-year-old former actor and writer, said Hudson has helped hone his skills. He said Hudson is well known throughout Canada as a top-flight comedian, who goes out of his way to promote the city abroad.
“Peter is a Nanaimo legend, he does so much for the scene, I'm so grateful that he pulled me aside and he took an interest in me," Lemmon told NanaimoNewsNOW. "He's given me a lot of advice that I've tried to work into my act.”
Lemmon realized his writing was best suited for stand-up and took the plunge in front of the mic earlier this year. Lemmon, who has roughly 30 shows all over the island in the past three months under his belt, said it's exciting to be a member of Nanaimo's growing comedy scene.
“A lot of us get along really well and I think it will be able to sustain a really good comedy show every two weeks easily,” Lemmon said.
Andrew Roberts, owner of Got Pop Concerts, included comedy to his repertoire of event hosting in Nanaimo in 2009. Roberts, who brought big acts like Bob Saget, Pauly Shore and Tom Green to town, has a soft-spot for small-scale shows.
Roberts said his rewarding Laugh Lounge series has been ongoing monthly for five years in Nanaimo.
“Laughter is the best medicine. I've seen so many comedians so many times but I never get tired of it because just watching the crowd is great to see their reactions.”
The next Laugh Lounge show is Friday, July 13 at Old City Station Pub at 8 p.m., featuring Los Angeles based comedian James Uloth.
Lemmon will also perform at the show.
Peter Hudson hosts a fund raising comedy show on Saturday, July 14 at Gabriola Island's Surf Lodge Pub at 8 p.m.
On Twitter: @reporterholmes
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