Hailing from Ottawa, Allison Dore began her career in the entertainment industry as an actor. It wasn’t until her older brother, Jon Dore, convinced her to give standup comedy a try that she finally made the plunge into the comedy world.
While performing standup, Allison met Ward Anderson and was persuaded to start a podcast and so the Ward and Al show was born. That podcast was eventually picked up by SiriusXM Canada Radio and ended up moving to a live weekday show on Canada Talks. She also hosts and curates the Allison Dore’s Broadcast on Canada Laughs, highlighting women in comedy all over the world.
In addition, she is the mind behind Howl & Roar Records, which is a recording company with the goal of making comedy albums more reflective of the diversity in the industry. The label realises that every artist has a unique perspective and collaborates alongside them to amplify their voice in the entertainment industry. All albums and EPs are available on audio streaming channels such as iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, Stitcher, and InTune.
— Allison Dore (@allisondore) November 4, 2018
Allison will be in town on November 10 at Yuk Yuks Ottawa to help Kyle Brownrigg record his first comedy album in his hometown. In the lead up to the performance, I got the pleasure of talking to Allison about her career, record label, and the upcoming show in Ottawa. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Apt613: When and where did you first start your career in standup comedy?
Allison: I was 21 at the time and I performed at Yuk Yuks in Ottawa. I believe when I started, Yuk Yuks was the only comedy club in Ottawa.
What made you do it in the first place?
Well, my brother Jon had been doing it in the first place. He kept on bugging me to try it and three years later, I finally took the plunge. I had acted a lot when I was younger and he thought it would be a really good transition for me. And I tried it and it stuck.
Did you find your time acting helped you in standup?
It’s completely different, but I had a level of comfort on stage and being in front of an audience. But it’s a completely different skill set. It’s hard for people to stand up in front of a group of people so at least I had some level of comfort with that.
How long did you do standup?
From the moment you took the stage, how long before you thought you could make a career out it?
That’s a good question! I don’t know that I ever realised I could make a go of it. I feel like you just get stuck. Making people laugh is really addictive and then you’re just broke for a really long time, but you just can’t leave. I was into standup comedy for so long because I didn’t know what else I could do. And them I found radio and interviewing people and that is where I am supposed to be. And interviewing people wasn’t even on my radar! I never was at a point in standup comedy where I could do it full time as a living—I always had other jobs. It’s really hard to make a living just doing standup. It’s borderline impossible.
How did you get into radio?
Ward Anderson and I had started a podcast and he had reached out to Sirius, just to see if they would play our podcast every week on the comedy channel. And it turned out that Sirius had recently started a talk channel and had been looking for content. So through a weird perfect timing situation, they ended up hiring us. And that was five and a half years ago, and for the last year or so, it’s just been my show.
Did you have your podcast set up as interview show from the start?
We always had guests on the show and set it up like talk radio. That’s sort of something we wanted to emulate. We always had a guest. We always had a back and forth between us off the top of the show before the guest came in. That’s still really the format that I still use on my show. I have a rotating group of people that fit in with me, one week at time. Off the top, we go through headlines and what’s happening in the entertainment world, and then we have a guest come in.
How did you know that interviewing was a passion for you?
I just loved it—helping people share their stories, meeting people. I’ve gotten to meet so many people that literally do everything, from every different background, every different walk of life. I immediately loved it. I immediately knew I had a knack for it and continually want to be better at it, to learn more, to grow.
I became aware that I am now in a unique position; understanding the production side, having been in comedy for such a long time, and with all the connection that I had made in radio…that I can make it really easy for people to put out albums.
Did Howl & Roar Records come about from your radio shows?
Actually that was a whole different kind of side thing. I did a show for the comedy channel on Sirius and noticed women just weren’t recording as much as men. In 2016, not long before I started putting the brakes on comedy, where I had stopped performing myself. I had found it really overwhelming and challenging. So I became aware that I am now in a unique position; understanding the production side, having been in comedy for such a long time, and with all the connection that I had made in radio…that I can make it really easy for people to put out albums. You know, the state of comedy in Canada is not very great, yet we produce the best comics in the world. Why not make it better? So it just started as such a small idea, where I was gonna help people put out an album in a small way and it just snowballed from there. Because, you know, I do love comedy and I love helping people share their ideas, which is such a big part of standup. And in terms of comedy, I would much rather help people behind the scenes, rather that on stage. It came out of realizing that some people were just not putting out contend and we live in such a content driven society right now.
I think there’s also unique challenges for members of the LGBTQ+ community and people of colour so I expanded the (inclusivity) of Howl & Roar Records… where 80% of what we put out would still be geared towards women, but that leaves room for other people that also want to put out records.
So how did you come across Kyle Brownrigg?
I’ve actually known Kyle for a long time and a friend had mentioned that Kyle was looking to put out an album and I think he’s so funny and so wonderful and I started thinking about it. I think there’s also unique challenges for members of the LGBTQ+ community and people of colour so I expanded the (inclusivity) of Howl & Roar Records… where 80% of what we put out would still be geared towards women, but that leaves room for other people that also want to put out records. So I reached out to him because he’s such a funny and wonderful person.
Allison will be alongside Kyle Brownrigg’s at Yuk Yuks Ottawa on November 10th. There will be two shows, starting at 7pm and then at 9:30pm. For tickets to the show, please visit www.yukyuks.com or learn more on the Facebook event page.