BY GLORIA J. KATCH
Special to the VOICE
If he kills on stage on the coming comedy night, great, but if he dies, well, Taylor Grant hopes his friends will turn him into a piñata stuffed with sushi. His only requirement is that his buddies wear dresses to his funeral. The other alternative is to “stuff me into a coffee table, so people can eat off me,” says Grant, a comedian who hasn’t quite yet figured out what he wants to be remembered for, or the inscription on his headstone.
While he may not have his funeral arrangements sorted, Grant, a play write, screenwriter and stand-up comedian, says his stand-up comedy routine is all freshly written material focused on Pelham. All this work and fun is for the community centre’s first Comedy Night, on Feb. 23, starting at 8 PM. The show’s promoter and host, David Green, says the centre is slated to host comedy nights three times this year— February, July, and November.
The comedy shows are a result of the Garden City Comedy Festival, held at the First Ontario Performing Arts Centre in St. Catharines, notes Green. Out of some 40 contestants, several finalists are chosen, and then continue on to perform in events like these, he says.
Green is also on the playbill along with Fiona O’Brien, Chris Jarvie, and headliner Glen Foster. Billed as “That Canadian Guy,” Foster has worked comedy clubs from coast to coast, and made numerous television appearances, including eight times on the Just For Laughs Comedy Festival, says Green.
Grant, 25, lived in Pelham until about six months ago, so writing about Pelham and the Niagara area is personal and close to home for him, which is just the type of comedy he enjoys writing most. Grant studied acting at Niagara College, and enjoys writing plays and screenwriting.
He created Senior Stories, a theatrical presentation, which he says was particularly rewarding.
“It was nice to see seniors tap their feet, to sing and clap their hands.”
Acting and doing voiceovers led him to do impersonations as a stand-up on stage. Grant says he first picked up the trait by imitating his grandmother, who still, after 50 years in Canada, had a “thick Dutch accent.”
Comedy is Grant’s passion. He realized a long time ago that he is terrible at routines, gets bored easily, and finds many jobs too repetitive. So, comedy and writing give him creative control and an engaging life.
Creating characters are a part of his “defense mechanism” he admits. One of his favourite comedic idols is Jim Carrey, also born and bred in Canada, but known for his gummy-faced, over-the-top characters like Fire Marshall Bill, on the sketch comedy show, “In Living Color,” his lead role in “Pet Detective,” and schizophrenic persona in, “Me Myself and Irene.”
While comedy can be shocking, rude or weird, Grant says he doesn’t venture into those territories as much. While he admires political comedians, he doesn’t feel he is knowledgeable enough about politics to explore the subject, besides, “At this time politics is funny enough, and has its own comedy going.”
“I try to be relatable,” he says. “I don’t want to offend people, but still push the limits of comedy.”
Sex is a topic he says he delivers in simple terms and not crudely.
“My mother is a hockey mom, and so whatever I do, I want to be able to say in front of my mom.”
He describes his parents as “cool,” though, saying that his father smoked pot, and his mother recently began using it for pain relief, as she was diagnosed with breast cancer. However, Grant is pleased to say she is cancer-free with “a full head of curly hair.”
Marijuana and the number of grow-ops in Pelham is something he will be touching on during his show. Given that Grant grew up on Emmett Street in Fonthill, and worked at Volcano Pizza, he has many local tales to serve up. He describes his comedy as being the epitomy of “the jack of all trades.”
“I don’t have a card,” he says.
“I’m not black, so I can’t play the race card, or gay to play the gay card.”
He also doesn’t have strange mannerisms or a bizarre enough appearance to play “the weird, freaky guy or geeky nerd.” And no, he doesn’t use puppets. He describes himself more like the guy next door, and while he admits that it’s not much of a schtick, it’s proven to be someone the audience can identify with. Grant’s dad is his coach, and his mom is his fan, so they are happy to fill him in on any local news he may have missed while living in Oakville the last six months.
While Just for Laughs has run several theme shows, this is not one of them.
“There are no pre-game talks,” he says, adding, “Everyone will be speaking to their own personal experiences.”
In addition to it being a bonus to open for Glen Foster, he adds that he’s “super-excited” to be in the new community centre.
When reminded of the controversy over the cost to build it, and the bills to keep it running, Grant says he’s aware of the issues, and has a game plan in case the lights go out.
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