Kevin Banner is officially one of the funniest people on the Island. And he just happens to be from Sooke.
Banner came back from the east about a week ago with a heavier wallet after a successful appearance on a televised competition to find Canada’s funniest stand up talent.
Called Stand Up & Bite Me, the show is hosted by Colin Mochrie from Whose Line Is It Anyway?, and is shown on Bite.ca, a speciality cable channel.
“I never thought I would get flown out to Toronto,” said Banner, who was accepted into the contest after sending a 15 minute demo tape. He won $5,000 for beating out seven other contestants in an online poll (his routine was put on the Bite.ca website and garnered the most clicks).
Banner has been very active in the comedy scene both in Sooke, where he does a monthly show at Mulligans, as well as Victoria where he is a regular fixture at Hecklers Bar & Grill. He’s done 70 or 80 shows so far this year at the only venue for comedy in the city.
But the road to success has been a long one.
“I’ve been doing (stand up) for six years – I’ve been funny for about 18 months,” Banner said
Now 28, Banner said when he was in high school he wanted to be a professional wrestler.
“I went down to California to do a boot camp thing and it hurts, (in comedy there’s) a lot less folding chairs to worry about.”
Stand up was something he always wanted to do, but never seriously pursued.
“The whole thing of writing my own material – I didn’t think it was something I could do.”
Tired of working odd jobs, Banner decided to pick up the phone and start calling local pubs and clubs to see if he could get a spot during open mic night. When he started out, Victoria didn’t have much of a comedy scene, he said.
“It’d be 10 guys doing Jack Johnson and Sublime covers on their acoustic guitars, and then I’d do stand up. It was always kind of awkward.”
He started out doing shows at Logan’s Pub in Victoria, while performing here and there in Sooke. It wasn’t until he got to Hecklers that his career started to take off. About a year and a half ago, Hecklers started having amateur comedy nights once a month. Now it’s featured every second Sunday.
“For the longest time it was just me – I wasn’t learning much, I wasn’t growing much. And now Hecklers being there has just been monumental for that.”
Banner currently collaborates with some of the top Canadian performers – he opened for Alberta funnyman Dan Quinn on New Year’s Eve at Hecklers, and is bringing in another Albertan performer, Graham Clark, to a show in Sooke. Clark has appeared on HBO and has his own Comedy Network special, Banner said.
You can see Clark, as well as musical comedian Wes Borg at Mulligans this Friday at 9 p.m. Tickets are $6 at the pub. For more information, visit Stump Ranch Comedy on Facebook or @BANNERkevin on Twitter.