Comedian and creator of the TV series Corner Gas, Brent Butt will be taking the stage in Sidney next month, attempting to make his audience laugh with his hour long stand up comedy performance.
The two-hour show opens with Vancouver comedian Ivan Decker.
Butt’s comedy career was decided very early on at the ripe age of 12 years old.
The first time he saw a stand up comedian was on TV — an afternoon talk show called The Alan Hamel Show, which later became the Alan Thicke Show.
“That was my first experience seeing a stand up,” Butt said in an interview with the PNR.
“I’ve seen sketch comedy and I’ve seen comedic acting and stuff like that, but I’d never seen a guy just coming out, standing there talking and being funny, and my little world opened up.”
He said ever since then, that’s what he wanted to do and it’s stayed as the dream ever since.
After this realization, Butt later did his first stand up in high school — a variety, drama night type thing. It ended up going well, and Butt was encouraged to pursue it even further.
When he was 20 years old, he performed at amateur night in a club in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. And that too went well, and he was off to the races, doing comedy on a regular basis.
Born in Tisdale, Saskatchewan, Butt was soon off to the big city of Toronto, much different than his small town surroundings.
It wasn’t all difficult, however, as Butt went from Tisdale to Saskatoon and then to Calgary, en route to Toronto, making it more of a gradual build.
“It wasn’t the culture shock,” he said about going from small town to big city in such a gradual manner.
After success with his stand-up, Butt later created Corner Gas, a popular TV series about the life of a proprietor of a gas station in a fictional town in Saskatchewan, focussing in on him and the folks who populate the area.
Initially Butt was approached by a director he worked with when he did his stand up show. He told Butt CTV was interested in ideas for shows, and it just so happened that Butt had written a treatment that took place in a small town at a gas station in Saskatchewan.
It was then go time with everyone interested in the script for Corner Gas.
“It’s not so much something I was tracing down, as kind of something that I was just prepared for when the opportunity came,” said Butt.
He is now transitioning that TV show success into animation.
Five years after the TV series ended they did a Corner Gas movie and the response was huge — bigger than any of them expected, he explained.
The network said there was still an appetite for the show and asked if he was interested in doing more Corner Gas.
“My partners and I felt that there was no reason to do anything more with Corner Gas unless we were going to do something significantly different,” said Butt.
And different is what they’re doing.
Years ago, Butt talked about how fun it would be to do a cartoon version of the show, so they began kicking around the idea again, intriguing the network once again.
“We worked with an animation company and created a short three-minute demo and it worked really well. Everybody really liked it and so we went into production.”
They are now doing 13 half-hour episodes and will hopefully be on the air in about a year from now, in January 2018
“All the original cast is going to be coming back and doing the voices for their characters with the exception of Janet Wright who played Emma.”
Wright died in November, 2016, so there will be casting to fill that role.
Looking back at his successful year, a few of those moments stood out more than others.
“I’ve had some very surreal moments and the first time I played the Just for Laughs Festival, which is the biggest comedy festival in the world, that was a big moment for me …”
There was also that time he performed for Queen Elizabeth II.
Looking forward, the Corner Gas animated project is taking up most of his time. And with all of that, he’s still doing stand up, writing a script for another movie and in development on a couple of other TV projects.
“That’s kind of the way it is. You’ve gotta just keep putting stuff out there and keep hoping to make a sale and stay in show business. That’s the goal.”
His advice to others? Butt said to just dive in and give it a whirl.
“There’s only so much that can be taught about stand up. The rest you have to get out and learn it by doing it.”
And messing up is okay.
“You learn from doing well but you learn from doing poorly too. You learn a lot of lessons from bombing.”
Butt will be at the Mary Winspear Centre Feb. 4. For tickets to the show call 250-656-0275.