Northern comedians will take the stage in Yellowknife on Thursday, each given a 10-minute set to be recorded for an album produced by Just For Laughs.
The Canadian Arctic Comedy Festival kicked off in Whitehorse on Tuesday and travels to Yellowknife and Inuvik before wrapping up in Iqaluit on October 14.
The festival says it hosts northern comedians such as Dez Loreen, Quincy Thomas and David Ohokannoak in larger-scale comedy shows than those typically seen in the North.
This year, unlike previous years, comedians playing a Thursday show at Yellowknife’s Top Knight bar will be recorded for a Just For Laughs album, to be produced for radio and web.
Alison Boughey, a communications officer for the festival, said the recording is the first of its kind in the North.
“The goal is really to expose northern and Indigenous comics, and involving them in the festival, but also comedy across Canada,” she explained.
“We want to support the development of the Arctic Indigenous peoples, and so we’re hoping to provide them with that cultural exchange opportunity, and get their comedy heard nationally – and potentially internationally.”
Skye Plowman, who has performed stand-up comedy in Yellowknife since 2013, thinks the night will bring brief relief to Yellowknifers following their recent three-week evacuation in the face of a wildfire.
“It’s a little clichéd, but laughter really is the best medicine. Sometimes you need to turn off the fight-or-flight part of your brain and just allow yourself to be entertained,” she told Cabin Radio.
“It’s hard on a physical level to remember that the immediate risk is done. But it has to be let go of, that’s how healing happens. And sitting and just laughing can really help you let it go.”
To show appreciation to northern firefighters, the festival is offering free entry to those who helped in this summer’s fight against wildfires.
“The focus of the organization has always been on mental health and local support services, depending on the need of the community. This year, a lot of that support has come from firefighters,” said Boughey.
“All of the firefighters are welcome in all of the cities, free of charge, to attend the shows with guests, and we’re really excited to welcome them and hopefully give them a break from a difficult season.”
Thursday’s show, listed as a 7pm start on the festival’s website, will see six other comedians perform alongside Plowman, as well as host Lisa Baker. Baker will then perform a comedy set on Friday at NACC with Fiona O’Brien and Bree Parson.
A third show will happen at NACC on Saturday with local comics as well as Natasha Lyn Myle, Jenny Hamilton and Derek Seguin – a show you can catch in Inuvik on Friday. Tickets for all events can be found on the Arctic Comedy Festival website.