Comedian wants own mural in Merritt
For comedian Lorne Elliott, Merritt doesn’t just represent the first stop on his latest tour, The Upside of the Downturn — it represents the chance to fulfill a life goal.
“I want my face on the walls like all those other country stars,” Elliott said over the phone from Quebec. “It’s one of my ambitions in life.”
But whether or not he gets his portrait painted, Elliott will perform his one-man show using a mixture of traditional standup, monologues and original songs at the Merritt Civic Centre tomorrow (Friday). The show includes the premiere of new material.
“I just wrote a monologue about burning toast. I’ll try it for the first time in Merritt, actually, so listen for that one,” Elliott said.
The Hudson, Que., native started his career in 1974 performing as a folk musician in Canada’s East Coast. He then turned his focus to comedy, and his live show gained momentum through the long-running CBC Radio show “Madly Off in All Directions,” which was hosted by Elliott and featured clips of his standup from across the country, and through the Montreal “Just for Laughs Comedy Festival,” at which Elliott performed regularly between 1986 and 1996. He has also released five discs, opened for Jay Leno and Rodney Dangerfield, and he has taken his act overseas.
“I’ve been on stage doing this nonsense for more than 30 years, and I really love being on stage now, so it’s not for me to say [the audience will] enjoy the show, but I certainly will,” Elliott said. “By this time, if I don’t know how to give the audience at least their money’s worth, I should’ve given up long ago.”
Elliott will take his act on this tour to Salmon Arm, Vernon and Sidney, among other cities in the Interior.
“The Interior has the best food in the world for one thing,” Elliot said. “The countryside is just drop-dead gorgeous, and the people are great — what else could you want?”
Elliott’s talents extend behind the scenes as well. As a playwright, he has written, produced and starred in five plays, and his next musical, Jamie Roswell Lives, has just been shortlisted for a Playwrights Guild prize. The award, which goes to a new musical that hasn’t yet premiered, will be awarded in Mississauga, Ont., on Oct. 22. Elliott said he will work on the play over the winter to prepare for its spring premiere, whether or not it receives the $5,000 prize, and he said he has just finished two novels, one of which has already been picked up by a publisher.
So what keeps Elliott creating after three decades as a multimedia comedic force?
“There’s just nothing like being in front of an audience,” he said.
“You cannot be but at your best in front of a room full of people who’ve paid to see you be at your best. I’m so honoured really to be in a job where, if you do it right, people stand up and applaud you for a day’s work.”
The show is the kickoff to the 2012-13 Community Concert Series presented by the Nicola Valley Arts Council. Tickets are $22 or $17 for students and seniors.