A veteran comic familiar to listeners of The Debaters on CBC Radio One, Steve Patterson has embarked on his 20th anniversary tour and arrives in Ottawa to headline Shenkman Arts Centre on Thursday evening.
This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
Apt613: Hi Steve, thank you for coming to Ottawa! On Wikipedia it said that you have been doing standup for 20 years, is that true? It said in 2007 you became popular because you said no to Last Comic Standing, what’s that story?
Steve Patterson: Yeah they had Canadian tryouts in Montreal and I auditioned because I lived there at the time. They chose me to be part of the Canadian finals but I was already booked for a gig and they said, “Well you’ve gotta reschedule your gig” And I said “…no.”
So I essentially turned down the Last Comic Standing after auditioning to the finals… and maybe I was wrong and I should be living in The States right now but I’ve made peace with it. I was at peace with it right away.
Was this an open mic? Or a club show? How far along into your career were you?
I was eight years in, headlining a weekend at a club called The Comedy Nest. I was at the point where people would come out to watch me specifically and I could start organizing door deals. I can’t remember how much I brought in that night, it was probably just a thousand dollars but at the time that was more important to me than the show.
I’m glad this will be at a theatre, the benefit is I get to organize lights, songs, and I get to chose the comedians before me.
I forgot that you get to chose your own lineup, that makes it such a more intimate show. Which comics do you enjoy watching right now?
I always enjoyed comedy that makes a point. There’s a lot of comedy that’s really goofy and silly, I enjoy that too but my favourite standup has to be Dereck Edwards. He always has a point to what he’s saying. My new favourite is Deanne Smith, she’s incredibly raw and endearing in a way where people can take it and she had a video that went viral.
I was doing a show with Deanne and her video had just hit fifteen million views. I asked, “Do you want me to mention that this is blowing up right now?” and she responded: “I don’t think the two hundred people out there care about fifteen million views. I have to care and focus on them tonight.” and I think that’s the attitude to have with comedy.
“If I’d known he was going to be that good, I would have cancelled him.” –Steve Martin
Well that’s so cool that you’re supporting that type of comedy on the road with you. How was it meeting Steve Martin at Just for Laughs?
It was fantastic, he was hosting the show so you never really expect the hosr to pay attention but he did and said it was a great thing because not a lot of comedians would perform topical material at a gala. It was a real boost at the time to have a guy like Steve Martin say something to me.
I watched your taping at the Halifax Comedy Festival. It was great. But watching you host CBC’s The Debaters live was incredible! A completely different show. I was in the back of the room but it still felt so intimate and unscripted one of the best times I had at a comedy show. It was nothing like watching a YouTube clip, there was an incredible energy.
Well thank you, I have to say Ottawa is one of the most comedy savvy crowds in the country. Part of it is that they keep with what’s going on so I always feel very comfortable performing there because they know it and care about it.
Do you have any ultimate points for the show?
Yes… The first is don’t an arsehole and the second is that I believe I’ve solved NAFTA. I know I’m in Ottawa so I’ll be able to go in a little deeper and it makes me excited to for the show.
Thank you for the interview Steve, I’ll be at the Shenkman Theatre for your show.
Steve Patterson is performing at the Shenkman Arts Centre (245 Centrum Blvd) on Thursday October 12 at 8pm. Tickets cost $5–42 online and at the box office.