EDMONTON — Backyards have become a lot funnier over the summer thanks to Edmonton stand-up comic Lars Callieou. He started telling jokes for people around their fires five months ago, and this weekend he wrapped things up, after 160 shows.
“I thought eight or 10 shows, I didn’t think a dozen, I didn’t think we’d get to two dozen, I certainly didn’t think we’d get to 160. That was unreal.”
Callieou finished his show where he started, in the backyard of Jacquelyn Reynolds. Reynolds contacted Callieou’s after seeing his tweet in May asking to be invited to tell jokes around someone’s firepit. She says it was exactly what she and her neighbours in Blue Quill needed.
“We were all sitting around being grumpy and sitting in our basements holed away. Yeah laughter’s really helped a lot.”
After CTV News Edmonton ran a story on that firepit show, Callieou’s comedy became red hot. He and his opener, Norm Shaw, were doing up to six shows a day in backyards, frontyards, and driveways.
“I had no idea we’d be heckled by barking dogs and loud mufflers and traffic helicopters and lawn mowers and whipper snippers. Even a hot air balloon,” says Callieou.
Despite the distractions, Callieou says the shows were fun to do, and much needed for him after coronavirus took away his indoor performances and cancelled a tour of Australia. As a full-time comedian, he wasn’t used to not being able to stand up and make people laugh.
“Selfishly I’ve always wanted to do comedy and I wanted to perform and there wasn’t this altruistic endeavour of, ‘I want to bring laughter to people,’ although that was a nice byproduct,” he says.
“Going back to the beginning of time there were story tellers with every culture. With every group of people there were people who told stories around the fire, so I guess in a way we’ve continued that tradition but it certainly wasn’t planned.”
Now that this tour is wrapped up, Callieou is going to take a break and chill out, but there are talks to do a snowbank comedy tour this winter.
“What a ride,” says Callieou with a laugh.
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