BY JAMES FW THOMPSON
If you ever want a true conversation about the combination of art and science (or maybe art and math) then talk to a professional stand-up comedian. That’s one of the things I most enjoy about the conversations I’ve had with Nick Beaton over the past few years.
There’s so much to it: business and timing and what to add and what to take out and risk factors, not to mention having to perform and be actually funny and entertaining to a very judgmental crowd for a very specific amount of time. A lot of things that, when you watch stand-up live or on tv, don’t even occur to you. It’s just some person talking. Seriously, talk to a stand-up about what goes into it. It’s fascinating.
And Nick has been doing it for a long time. After a (very) brief stint at CBU, he moved to Toronto to get into comedy. Originally he focused on sketches, but quickly his interests moved to stand-up, which is what he has been doing for almost a decade and a half. He’s also written for the CTV series Spun Out, had a Comedy Channel special, appeared at Just for Laughs and the Halifax Comedy Festival, on the tv show Video on Trial (in the same episode as Weird Al!), and at hundreds of clubs all across Canada and the UK. He also hosts a podcast “This is Not a Safe Space,” (that he would be super happy if you found and listened to). Hell, his banner picture on Facebook is him with four of the Kids in the Hall! He’s done a lot of comedy.
This time around, I met up with Nick at The Old Triangle, to discuss his upcoming show “Homecoming” (you know—to play off the popularity of the Spider-man). Unlike any other show Nick has done back here at home, this one will be recorded as an album. I even recorded the conversation after Nick taught me how to use my own phone. I then asked him the big question of “what’s the deal with this show?” Both of these facts indicate that I am good at interviews.
He explained it quite well, because he is better at this than I am:
“XM radio has various station dedicated to comedy, and I know a guy who works there. So comedians are just throwing stuff at this guy because there’s this thing called Sound Exchange that pays royalties and there’s a decent quarterly cheque that you get.”
That makes sense. But it’s not just that. That’s just the practical part. Ultimately, Nick just wants to get his stuff out there.
“What I’d like to do is put my albums on a website where you can just go and download them. Maybe have an option to donate to charity. Whatever you wanna give, give it to charity. Then everyone can get the album.”
Basically, there was a surprising amount of consideration put into this aspect of the album. Again, things that I never would have considered being a part of what a stand-up comedian does.
This time around, Nick is promising a very tight show of A-material. Because, well, the better it goes in the show, the better the recording will go. This is where the business side of things comes in again.
Before I get into that, I feel I must say this: I knew Nick pretty well when he lived here over 15 years ago. I even went to that class he was in at CBU that one day. He was funny. He could write and perform and read a crowd to win them over. All good stuff that he still uses to this day. However, I never saw him do the business side of things. Or knowing anything about business. Another thing I did not realize was a major part of being a stand-up.
Okay, back to the explanation: basically, the way the XM system works is that when one of his bits gets played, he earns a royalty (there’s more to it, but that’s how I get it and I’m the one writing here). So, if something goes wrong and the track is unplayable, then that’s a problem. Worse if there’s a heckler.
With the recorded show, it will mostly be material that he has done here before. It’s part a ‘best of’ compilation, “There are a few things in here that are better than anything else I’ve ever written. Some of my best stuff,” but it’s still a new show. The material evolves; it changes over time, and as Nick changes as a performer. Plus there’s a good chunk of new material that local audiences would have never heard.
I don’t know if I’m doing a good job of selling this show. Here’s the facts boiled down:
- Nick is a super funny, smart comedian
- he’s recording an album in Sydney, at Governors’
- if you want to support Nick and have your laugh recorded for the world to hear, head on out
- if you want to potentially cost Nick thousands of dollars, have some really good, loud heckles ready
- don’t actually do that; Nick will get mad at you, and you probably don’t want a recording of a professional publicly tearing into you in front of all your friends
- opening for Nick is Peter White, who has also performed here a number of times over the years, and is easily worth the price of admission himself; Nick and the recording are bonuses
It’s happening Thursday, July 20th at Governors’. The door opens at 9:30PM. If you get there right at 9:30, ask Nick what time the show actually starts. He will give you a great answer/rant. Nick’s really good at ranting. One of the best.
Tickets are available online at nickbeaton2017.eventbrite.ca/