by: Tyler Dombrowski

An insurmountable nervousness hovers around me when I step into the line-upÖ

With only four other people in front of me waiting for their dose of the five-minute rush, I go over the ìifsî and ìbutsî in my own mind, knowing full well itís going to be smiles from ear to ear by the end of it all. The adrenaline that courses through a person when he anticipates the ups and downs of this well-engineered ride is what most people would not wish to stomach on their best day. This short thrill ride is made for a select few; some people are even too timid to watch such a thing or attempt to understand how we do it. My friend however, tagged along for peer support ñ and for his own fun-filled experience.
Waiting patiently while others go through the loops, ups, downs and sideways thrusts, my friend turns to me and asks, ìAre you getting nervous?î I answer with only a quick grin out of the side of my face. Maintaining my composure is absolutely necessary to fully enjoy whatís about to come.

Now the four people before me have made their way through the line-up and Iím being ushered to the front. Itís not my first time, and it wonít be my last, but the anticipation always shatters the ego and reduces me almost to rubble. Self-doubt comes in like the tide of a salt-water beach trying to shatter you from behind the knees. Just as I get to the front of the line the roar of applause is there to boost my own enthusiasm and fasten me into the roller coaster I call stand-up comedy.

Thurs. Jan. 26 was the first of four preliminary rounds in a Yuk Yuks sponsored competition that many novice comedians look forward to and prepare for every year: The Great Canadian Laugh-Off. I didnít intend on performing, but Jack, the manager and co-ordinator asked me a question that I only know one answer to. When he shook my cold hand of death he presented the question ìHey, you wanna perform tonight?î So, with nothing prepared for the evening, as I was drinking and enjoying the show, I said, ìGive me a couple minutes to consider itî and within seconds I gave him the affirmative nod. As a wise voice once put it, ìIt was on like Donkey Kong.î

The evening had a certain air of familiarity to it. Perhaps because only 364 days prior to that I had done my very first set at Yuk Yuks, and it had coincidently been the first round of the 2011 Laugh-OffÖ thatís a whole different article though.
Regardless of how many times Iíve gone on stage – prepared or not – I always get the jitters. Filling up with nervous anticipation because even if I have a general plan, uncontrolled variables can be thrown at you when you get up there. Now that is where the real fun begins! Will we encounter a saucy heckler? Will I even need the material I have prepared, or will the crowd and I hit it of nicely in a jovial jarring of the ribs? That microphone is my safety harness, and if used appropriately, will ensure that everyone enjoys the ride.

Thereís never a dull night at the Yuk Yuks comedy club here in Kitchener, but I always look forward to the Laugh-Off. Sure, maybe I am biased because I get to strut my comedic gusto all over that centre stage, or maybe itís because laughter really IS the best medicine and the Great Canadian Laugh- Off has just the right dose to go around for everyone.

Our community is full to the brim with comedic talent. For the next three weeks there will be a healthy competition between our regionís best. With the first two rounds in the books we have just two more preliminary rounds left to help decide the second half of the final eight that will contend on Feb. 23rd. Just three more Thursday nights to decide Kitchenerís number one. I donít intend to miss one second of the action. In fact, Iím even gonna squeeze myself back into the line-up for the February 16th final preliminary round.

I do warn those of you who read this and have a spark of curiosity – or a hunger for something outside of the average night of song and dance – once you crack a smile, youíre bound to laugh soon after. Take solace in the beckoning laughter that drifts out into the Rum Runner Pub, up the stairs, and into the cold crisp February air at 1 King Street West in Kitchener. Take advantage of the talent that will be offered for the next three Thursdays at Yuk Yuks. Take your job and shove it . . . well OK, donít do that, but thinkoff all the big names that were birthed in basement comedy clubs during amateur showcases like this one. Jim Carry, John Candy, Tommy Chong, Tom Green, Nikki Payne, Howie freaking Mandel!

Thereís no better time to have a laugh than during the Yuk Yukís Laugh-Off when the talent is sharp, and every comic is bringing his or her own flair to the spotlight. Not to mention the fact that the door fee is only $8.25. The Yuk Yuks downtown Kitchener venue is a nice, intimate room that many comics proclaim as one of their favourite rooms. Accommodating just under 200 guests, thereís not a bad seat in the house, and sure it looks like your parentsí well kept basement, but itís home. Why not pop your head in once in a while? But, if youíre getting on this roller coaster ride, make sure to leave your sunglasses in the car.
For more information, please go to www.yukyuks.com for contact information and reservations.

Tune in next time, weíll start the ball rolling with interviews with some of Canadaís current rising stars including Rebecca Kohler, Mark Forward, Rob Pue, and heck, maybe Iíll even recount some of my own juicy stories from the mic stand.

For more play-by-play on the Great Canadian Laugh-Off make sure to add my page: www.facebook.com/tyskistandup.

Much love and even more laughter,


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