The Blue Dog Motel’s indie comedy show is a hot way to spend the winter nights
As students, we lead a grim life. We scramble desperately from one assignment deadline to the next, all while trying to find the time to fit in some groceries (if money permits) and a shower (if time permits). Couple this with the reality of our mounting debt and rumors of a bleak job market, life as a student can be crushing.
A desire to lighten my burden of academic despair was enough to propel me from home on a frigid Monday night to the 144th edition of “There’s Something Funny Going On” (TSFGO) at The Blue Dog Motel.
TSFGO is one of the longest-running independent comedy shows in the city. Local comedian Emma Wilkie and comedy production wiz Rashta Kruger have been producing the show for nearly three years. In this time they have built an excellent reputation among audiences and performers.
It’s easy to miss The Blue Dog Motel if you’re not looking for it. The front lights are always dimmed, so it never looks quite open. A barber’s chair sits proudly in the display window at the front of the bar, so you could in theory get a haircut (but probably not).
The venue is perfectly suited to a comedy show. The room is dark and narrow with a small elevated stage nestled in the back. Comedians hover around the bar, muttering to themselves and scribbling on napkins.
Paul Baluyot hosted this edition and kept things light between acts with quips about his neuroses and the ominous looking restroom. Of note were the three female performers on the show’s lineup—representing 25 per cent of all the acts. Such a high ratio of female comedians is fairly unusual—perhaps due in part to the pervasive myth that women aren’t funny.
TFSGO co-producer Rashta has a succinct response when presented with this common attitude: “Bullshit.” She goes on to rhyme off a long list of hilarious women, both local and celebrity.
Rashta’s secret to nearly three years of success is simple: attention to detail. Complimentary bowls of candy and pretzels dot the venue. Rather than charging a cover, a donation bucket is passed around toward the end of the show to pay the headliner and the host. There is no drink minimum (as is often so popular in comedy clubs), but the drinks are cheap so it’s too enticing not to partake.
The shows regularly feature comics working and touring professional clubs plus some well-practiced amateurs. But this certainly isn’t an open-mic—so why keep it cheap? “We know our audience and they’re often on a budget,” Rashta says.
I asked her, not a performer herself, what draws her to comedy: “There’s something healing about comedy,” she explained. “It keeps you young.” Indeed, research from the Journal of Personality from Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett’s group at Northeastern University supports the notion that positive emotions are good for your health.
Perhaps the best part of TSFGO is the feeling of community. This show happened to be local comedian Nour Hadidi’s final performance in Montreal before her big move to Toronto. The heartfelt and tearful goodbye that ended her set made it clear that this is a place where both the performers and the audience feel the love.
Check out TSFGO every Monday night starting at 9 p.m. at The Blue Dog Motel on Saint-Laurent.