Brent Butt hits the road for stand-up comedy tour

By Jacquelin Gregoire

EDMONTON (CUP) — While most are more familiar with Brent Butt’s work on TV series such as Corner Gas and Hiccups, Butt himself is more accustomed to life as a “struggling nightclub comic.” With both shows behind him now, Butt is returning to the familiar art of stand-up, with plans to build on his artistic ability through new projects that present fresh challenges but stay true to his comedic persona.

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With years of writing comedy under his belt, Butt has no trouble coming up with funny material. And despite the contrast between the mediums of television and stand-up comedy, his experience as a lone stand-up writer helped strengthen his skills as a collaborative scriptwriter down the road.

“You develop a sense of what’s funny and what people are going to laugh at because you have to rely on that when you’re writing the show,” Butt says. “You’re writing the jokes and hoping they’re funny because there is no audience.”

When all else fails, Butt resorts to the strategy that got his career rolling in the first place: simply being himself. Since generating stand-up material is derived largely from inner thoughts and personality quirks, Butt used his own natural timing and sense of humour to come up with material for his Corner Gas character, Brent Leroy. In fact, the sole distinguishing characteristic between him and his Corner Gas counterpart is the shape of their timepieces.

“The interesting thing about my character from Corner Gas is that he’s basically identical to me,” Butt muses. “I didn’t know how good of an actor I was so I thought I’d better make this character as close to me as possible — that way I’d know how to react to situations. I always said the biggest difference between Brent Butt and Brent Leroy was that he wears the square watch and I wear a round watch.”

The fact that he relates so closely to his television character is why Butt doesn’t mind being known for the show, even years after its cancellation. But content with its six-year run and the resulting legacy, Butt now prefers to look ahead his future endeavours.

“I had a certain fanbase before Corner Gas and I have a much bigger fanbase now because of the show. I still feel blessed about having the chance to do it; it changed my life completely, so I’m all good with it,” Butt says.

With his higher profile to fall back on, Butt plans to take full advantage by tackling his biggest project yet. A fan of detective movies, he’s now attempting to merge his passion for comedy and mystery into a feature film.

“It is a comedy, but I intentionally wrote it and we’re going to shoot it in a very realistic way so that if it wasn’t funny, it would still work as a mystery and a thriller,” Butt explains. “But a movie’s a big, visual feast and you really have to know what you’re doing, so I thought it was best that I don’t direct.”

Whether the film is successful or not, Butt’s creative side will push him to continue moving forward with his comedy in one form or another. For now, he’s just hoping the audience will be willing to come along for the ride.

“I think if you concentrate on making a good product, that’s all you can really control,” Butt says. “So that’s all I concern myself with: making sure that I’m happy and that I think it’s funny, then cross my fingers and hope people like it.”

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