NATALIE NORTH: A love letter to Victoria

In a room of wannabe comics, I watch my brother develop his set on relationships.“A study conducted in the U.K. found that men tell twice as many lies as women,” Geoff says into an unplugged mic. “I’m no statistical researcher, but I already knew this. And besides, the data is way off.“Take this morning for example, I’m not even awake for five minutes and I’ve already told four lies: Good morning; I love you; no baby, your breath smells great; and …”I have to edit Geoff’s punchline there. The content is more sexual than his little sister is comfortable retelling in the newspaper. For Christmas, I took it upon myself to register my brother and I in a standup comedy workshop with veteran comic Kirsten Van Ritzen to polish our previous attempts at comedy duels. Him: all delivery, no content. Me: reciting short essays with the enthusiasm of someone calling for a department store price-check. Horrible.Next week we have the pleasure of performing our last lowbrow comedy session for a captive (and, fingers crossed, intoxicated) audience. But it doesn’t have to end there. With regular amateur nights around town, I don’t think I’ll let Geoff and his dude humour get off that easy.Amateur night at Hecklers? Phillips Comedy Night at Victoria Event Centre? Why stop once he has fulfilled the holiday obligation I forced him into? This kid’s got moxie, I tell ya.Apparently so does every other person in Victoria. One thing I love about our city is an abundance of talented creative types of all kinds. Pick any weekend, and it’s a safe bet there’s something local, cheap and entertaining (much more so than my brother and I, by the way). And, if you like it enough, you could probably get involved in some way too.Just walk up to the performer and start a conversation, because you can. People like compliments, free drinks and volunteer labour – all three of which have high acceptance rates and can only breed more good energy and opportunities.Better yet, start something yourself! Ask your favourite coffee shop, bookstore, whatever, if they’d like to try hosting an evening of whatever it is that butters your biscuit. I’m so excited for this year’s Victoria Fringe Festival that I may select dancing as my new primary mode of transportation this summer. But isn’t Victoria great at low-budget and DIY theatre all the time? Better lace up my dancin’ boots.Instead of concentrating on what our home is not – a magnet to huge music festivals or arena headliners –  I choose to send a tip of the cap Vic’s way for what it does best. We are a small city with the resources to consistently produce quality arts and entertainment, by people who seem both grateful for the help of beginners and genuinely interested in seeing them succeed. Isn’t it fun to meet a new artist who lives just up the street or down the hall? Punk drummer, burlesque dancer, filmmaker, playwright, sculptor, poet – if you haven’t met them yet, it’s only a matter of time.Back in the rag-tag crew of comedians, a bonafide award-winning professional takes notes and offers thoughtful advice on how I might polish my little routine, centred around the reading of my Grade 5 journal. Where else do such things happen so naturally? We’ve got a good thing going, Victoria. You’re not perfect, but I love you just as you are.Natalie North is a reporter with the Saanich News.nnorth@saanichnews.com

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