Brent Butt credits the influence of his mother and father for his inbred comedic talent.
While his father more voluble, his mother took a quieter but more pointed approach to laying out things about everyday life.
“She’d say something like, “check out the shirt on that guy,’” said Butt, best known for Corner Gas, the TV series set in the fictional town of Dog River, Saskatchewan which ran in Canada on the CTV network from 2004 to 2009.
Born and raised in the farming community of Tisdale, Saskatchewan, Butt’s the youngest of seven, something alone which required agility to be noticed.
“I’d tell stories and jokes to make the others laugh,” Butt recalls.
If best known for Corner Gas as well as a long string of stand up comedy TV appearances, Butt’s trademark is his deadpan expression.
“It kind of goes with whatever feels right,” said Butt. “It’s very much in the moment.”
Using the expression and developing the split second timing needed for comedy is a craft Butt’s been practising since his first stand up appearance in 1988 in a Saskatoon nightclub.
As with many comedians, he’s amassed a repertoire of jokes and stories.
“I’d write things down in a little notebook and then try it out onstage to see what worked,” said Butt.
Nowadays, those observations and notes are kept on a phone.
Despite a stand up career now stretching into three decades, Butt still enjoys the interaction with a live audience.
Each one is different meaning that each performance then takes on its own personality, he says.
“You learn to read the audience. You listen to how an audience responds and you adjust as you go along. I know how I’m going to open a show but after that, you respond to the audience,” said Butt.
It’s a freer style of comedy compared to television or movies where scenes are timed to minutes and seconds.
“Sometimes you have a very funny scene but if it doesn’t fit, it has to go,” said Butt.
Butt’s career has taken him from his home province of Saskatchewan briefly to Calgary and then to Toronto and for a very short period, to Los Angeles.
“I did comedy there,” said Butt of his Los Angeles experience. “But I felt displaced, hiding who I really was. I would come to Vancouver to play Punchlines, a club that no longer exists, and shows on [Vancouver] island.”
Intrigued by Vancouver and facing paperwork problems with staying in Los Angeles, Butt then decided to make the move.
“I’ve lived in Vancouver now for 23 years. Never left the city. And Canada has kept me very busy.”
Butt brings his stand up performance to a number of northwestern and interior venues with his local show set for Prince Rupert at the Lester Centre of the Arts, May 24 at 8 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at the Lester Centre or online at Mytixx.ca. Enter for a chance to win free tickets at the Northern View offices.