Yuk Yuk's CEO Mark Breslin has seen a lot of his stand-up comics strike it rich, but he's making history Sunday night (February 12) when one unknown will walk away from his comedy club with $25,000 in his or her pocket. That's the generous purse awarded to the winner of the inaugural Yuk Yuk's Great Canadian Laugh Off. From last Monday through the weekend, 64 comics from home and abroad take the mic with their best 10 minutes, competing for one of eight spots on the big night. The finale is being taped for the Comedy Network, but you can check out five other nights of comedy - and perhaps make an on-air appearance - before the white-knuckle night. See Comedy Listings for details.
So who coughed up the $25,000? It's part of the budget of the Comedy Network. It covers what the talent budget would be for a special.
And this is the biggest prize for a comedy contest? Apparently the next closest is $2,500. Unfortunately, life has become a series of contests. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em, right?
Will the winner be the funniest person? The winner will be the funniest person on that occasion.
The fine print says no contestants are allowed from Quebec. Was that a political thing? Nope, it was the law. They have a different set of rules for contests.
These are all stand-ups. There won't be any novelty acts like magicians, right? Oh yeah. No jugglers, mimes and ventriloquists. Generally, if you can buy your act in a store, it's not what we're looking for.
I'm one of the judges on Thursday night. What am I allowed to receive as a bribe? Take whatever you can get. I've always been in favour of bribes. That's why I voted Liberal.
Will there be any behind-the-scenes footage on the comics for the TV special? Oh yeah. Tragic stories about the usual: absent mothers, abuse, alcoholism, one-legged fathers.
What advice do you have for the winner? Take the money and put it into your career. It can buy a green card on the open market. And remember, $25,000 is something, even to a wealthy person. But I hear Gerry Schwartz didn't enter.
With recent walk-ons by folks like Robin Williams and Lewis Black, comedy clubs are hotter than ever. Thoughts? People congratulate me for starting the careers of people like Jim Carrey, Howie Mandel and Norm McDonald. But I'm really most proud of those 100 comics who wake up in the morning and have paying work at Yuk Yuk's.