Entertainment Local

Canada's 'Queen of Comedy' Carla Collins returning to Pembroke's Festival Hall

Rick Wharton

By Rick Wharton, Special to The Daily Observer

Canadian-born comedian Carla Collins hosted the first annual Festival Hall Centre For The Arts Red Carpet Event in Pembroke, Ont. on Thursday April 21, 2016. She returns as the headliner with her full show on Sept. 24 at 7:30 p.m.

Canadian-born comedian Carla Collins hosted the first annual Festival Hall Centre For The Arts Red Carpet Event in Pembroke, Ont. on Thursday April 21, 2016. She returns as the headliner with her full show on Sept. 24 at 7:30 p.m.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Rick Wharton, actor, comedian, radio personality, The Conspiracy Guy, and Festival Hall director, brings The Daily Observer readers exclusive interviews with some of the big name acts coming to Festival Hall. Instead of traditional story format, these pieces are brought to you in the question and answer format in the same way the interviews took place. So let's be a fly on the wall and hear what one of Canada's best (and best looking...just saying) comedians, had to say during her '10 minutes with Rick.'

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Rick: Thank you for coming to the Ottawa Valley and Festival Hall Centre for the Arts. I’ll remind you again to bring protective headgear and hunting firearms.
Carla: Well, you know, I'm an animal rights activist so the only thing I'll be hunting will be young men. My French grandpa was from Pembroke so feels a bit like home. Still trying to find protective headgear that matches my hooker heels.

RICK: So we finally got you to Festival Hall last spring, as part of our gala with Gowan and Carl Dixon. What an amazing successful night for the theatre and the audience. You had one of the best sets of your life. You had people wetting there pants and grabbing their inhalers...(laughs). And that was just Gowan and Carl. The audience was the loudest reaction every I have heard for a comedian for an audience of 600 people.

Carla: It was honestly one of the most magical evenings ever that didn’t involve NyQuil Severe, retired hookers and dancing albino teacup pigs. The vibe backstage was amazing because you, the awesome Gowan and I, have been friends forever. I believe all of this contributed to create a special, electric spirit at Festival Hall. Not to mention the best, most fun, warm and hip audience whose energy and enthusiasm was second to none. Sometimes it just works. I was honoured to be the host and wanted to set the scene for the incredible musicians. The news of Prince’s death hit just a couple of hours before the gala and I love that we were able to pay tribute to The Purple One through music and comedy that night. My Grandpa Giroux was from Pembroke and I know a lot about this groovy city and was able to personalize the show for the Ottawa Valley peeps. I think comedy works best when it’s both local and universal. As a ‘Soo Girl,’ I just loved and related to the crowd. Plus, let’s face it, all the craziness happening in the world this year is a comedian’s wet dream and I love me some topical, pop culture humour - Trump, Clinton, the Olympics, Trudeau, Drake, Ghomeshi, Cosby, Banana Auto Glass, Dick’s Plumbing...the list goes on! Plus there was great hooch on site and the venue is at a high school so I was a natural. I was valedictorian, prom queen and president of student council. Of course I was home schooled so...whatever.

Rick: So many people wanted you to come back and do your full comedy standup show and here you are. Thoughts on coming back to Pembroke, Laurentian Valley, Petawawa and the whole Ottawa Valley?

Carla: I can’t wait to come back and rock Festival Hall, see the new friends I made at the gala, corrupt more youth, pick out a Lumber King to be my next husband, see if one of your local taxidermists can immortalize my breasts while I play mini-golf...it’s gonna be a busy trip. I’m excited to share the stage with you and I’m really looking forward to doing my entire show ‘cuz it gets wild. During the gala I didn’t even have time to talk about my dogs, my daddy issues or get into the story of Gary Busey tickling me. Most of all, I’m pumped to be able to go into the audience and interact more with the crowd this time around because they are such an awesome bunch and that’s always the best part of my show. When I come back game day lands on a Saturday and not a school night so I just want to turn the whole evening into a big Pembroke pyjama party! A lot of madness has happened in the last five months and I wanna hear about everyone’s summer vacation. Plus, second dates are the best, not as awkward as the first date but you still don’t have to put out until the third one…So psyched for another incredible evening in the Ottawa Valley.

Rick: We've known each other for years. It's always a pleasure to see and hang and watch you on stage.
You have grown and developed into a major talent and working entertainer. When was the moment you said, 'Ok, I now have to go to the USA?'
Carla: I was very blessed in Canada and I had worked pretty much everywhere possible in the biz so I just thought it was time to annoy people in the States and decided I didn't need money, universal healthcare or love! I still do a lot of work in Canada and I'm a bit of a gypsy and like to move around and explore new places. Plus, I'm from Sault Ste. Marie so I did my time in the snow. I make a better beach bunny than skier.
Rick: What was the moment of realization when you knew you wanted to be in the biz?
Carla: At birth. I did a tight 10 minutes in the delivery room. I killed but the doctor still slapped me. Bastard.
Rick: Who do you think is funny and makes you laugh? Well, besides my Huey Lewis hair (laughs).
Carla: I love all types of comedy from The Three Stooges to Oscar Wilde. My current comedy god is Louis CK. He's brilliant, dark and hilarious. My favourite TV comedy is probably The League and I've seen Old School, Role Models, I Love You Man and Anchorman about 1,000 times. I'm pretty sure I have the soul of a 14-year-old boy. I also love the old-timey goofballs like Lucille Ball, Carol Burnett, Mae West and Groucho Marx.

Rick: You are/were in TV and radio and for the last many years on stage making people laugh. If you were only allowed one, what would it be?
Carla: I would go with live television. There isn't much live TV anymore but it is the perfect hybrid of my two greatest loves.

Rick: I am a Second City alumnus, I do stand-up in my act. If I am hosting, my standup and improv touch, though I don't consider myself a stand up comedian. That takes years of practice, performances thus perfecting your act and material. Would you please share some insight into this for the reader?

Carla: Stand-up comedy is a unique beast, kinda like jazz music but with more direction. I did stand-up right out of university but didn't have thick enough skin for it and was too nervous about performing. I used to shake like a Chihuahua on meth and stopped doing it because I was working in TV and radio and decided I didn't need the hassle. Comedy was my first love and I think we always return to our passion so four years ago I went back into comedy full-time. I guess I finally stopped giving a crap about what other people think of me and I got over my nerve problem. Now I can't wait to get up on stage and would jump up and do 45 minutes at a garage sale! I believe you have to love it because it's a crazy life. I write every day and constantly do shows. A lot of comedians like to have total control and a very specific set. Personally, I love the danger and excitement of improvising, playing with new material and free-styling. This is likely because I have severe ADHD and have the attention span and patience of a toddler. I don't know the magic formula for comedy but like Malcolm Gladwell says, you need to do something for at least 10,000 hours in order to master it. It's a matter of keeping your material fresh, performing like a mad person and being authentic. Also, pounding back NyQuil shooters never hurts.

Rick: Comedy and music have always been sympatico. Think SNL and SCTV. Who are you listening to and do you have any favourite Canadian music artist?

Carla: I hit a dance class pretty much every day so my iPod is filled with hip-hop, rap, silly Top 40 dance songs and reggae. I'm not a ballad girl because I need something that's high energy with a beat. I also love 80s songs. My favourite Canadian band is Rush, but I do a lot of jokes about Drake.

Rick: Ok some fast improv here -Harper or Trudeau? Betty or Wilma? Roth or Hagar? Fendi or Burberry?

Carla: Trudeau of course but I'm talkin' Pierre. Damn that was a sexy man. Betty because she was adorable and was cool with Barney being shorter than her. Maybe she used him as a loofa? Definitely Roth, but I did spent time in a hot tub with Hagar. Don't ask! Not a Fendi or Burberry fan, I would go Giant Tiger or Canadian Tire.

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An evening of amazing standup comedy featuring Carla Collins hits the stage at Festival Hall on Sept. 24th. at 7:30 p.m.

Special guests, Rick Wharton and Jef Vegas - "SOUPY AND SHECKY."

Tickets available by calling 613-735-2182 or at the Festival Hall box office.