What’s considered funny is continually changing.
It also depends on the audience.
That means Vancouver standup comedian Toby Hargrave’s material is continually evolving.
“A joke really has a certain shelf life, something changes and the joke starts to get less funny,” said Hargrave. “With standup, the only way to get better is by actually doing it, there is no rehearsing in your bedroom.”
Hargrave said there is a saying in the comedy world that the “first 100 shows are just rehearsals.”
Was Hargrave the funny kid always getting laughs?
“I think I was kind of that fat, little angry kid,” said Hargrave.
Hargrave started in theatre. He played roles in the BBC America series Intruders that was cancelled after its first season and played Leon in the Syfy series pilot Highmoon. He’s currently working on a project with Neill Blomkamp, the writer and director of District 9.
Hargrave has been doing standup for 15 years. The experience has given him a better sense of his comedic voice.
“You do have a better immediate sense of what is funny,” he said about his experience. “It starts to reflect who you are as a person and there is an ease in it.”
Hargrove said the comedian onstage could be a “caricature or a reflection of who you really are.”
“When people see a show I hope they walk away with a better sense of who I am,” he said.
Even though comedy is embedded in his life now it wasn’t always such a passion. He did a foray into comedy in the early 90s but in 1993 decided to “hang it all up.” He started working as an operations manager of a national restaurant chain.
It wasn’t until 2000, during amateur comedy night at Yuk Yuks in Edmonton that he re-entered the comedy world.
“It was a paradigm shift. My life sort of shifted on my axis,” said Hargrave.
He quite his job, “almost went broke and just started touring,” said Hargrave. Since then he has toured across Canada a number of times and started a film and television career.
“The theatres are always my favourite. There is a certain decorum,” he said. “You are absolutely coming to a comedy show, but the humanity is coming through.”
Hargrave is performing at the Nanaimo Port Theatre Jan. 9. During the performance Hargrave said he takes time to connect with the audience.
“Maybe leave the kids at home … there is a little strong language,” said Hargrave.
Hargrave just recorded his first album, A Hargrave’s Night Vol. 1, Now and Then. It’s an amalgamation of older and newer material.
He has performed at the Just for Laughs Comedy Festival in Montreal, Atomic Comedy Festival in Washington state and the Vancouver International Comedy Festival.
Hargrave performs at the Port Theatre Jan. 9, 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $25 for rows D through W and the balcony and $30 for rows A through C. Call 250-754-8550 or go to www.porttheatre.com.