They came, they laughed.
With every seat filled at R.E.M. Lee Theatre, Terrace-born comedian Ian Bagg performed on Nov. 13 for the fifth year in a row.
The homegrown talent has been featured on Comedy Central, “Late Night with Conan O’Brien”, HBO and placed in the Top 5 for NBC’s “Last Comic Standing” in 2015.
He and three other performers (Raj Sharma, Ray Johnston and Damonde Tschritter) were brought in on stage by the R.E.M. Lee Theatre Alive Society as part of their fundraiser to raise money for the theatre’s upgrade campaign.
The Ian Bagg & Friends Benefit Comedy Show raised $24,000. So far, Theatre Alive has fundraised over $240,000 in total for their upgrade project.
How was your show this week in Terrace?
The crowd was amazing. That theatre, when it’s packed, is great. The response that you can get off them is amazing, you can feel it on your chest. Last year, I did 14 shows in hockey-sized arenas in Europe with five to 10 thousand people a night, so it was the same kind of feeling.
Why is important for you to do comedy?
When they come to me, I want people to escape from what’s going on. I tease them and show them how much of a dork I still am. I think it’s important to bring talent here that they probably wouldn’t see, other than Youtube and online. When I was a kid, we didn’t have that so we would never know what was going on. I think that’s why stand-up is in such a boom right now.
How has your journey been like?
It’s still going on, I’m still working on those steps. You think that everything is a success and then all of a sudden, you’re back at the bottom again. It never ends, but it’s funny.
Last Comic Standing was really fun, I’ve done all the late night shows, had a showtime special on HBO and another one on Amazon right now. We sold actual shows for pilots. I’m back with another production company right now creating a one-camera show. At the same time, I’m doing a podcast about buying a house and all these other production companies are interested in turning that into a show.
Would you say Terrace has influenced your humour?
Absolutely. I’m different than the guys who grew up in Los Angeles or any big city. People always want to know what my accent is all about. They know I’m not from the norm.
I think Terrace has a great sense of humour. I don’t think I’m the funniest person from this town, I think people are really funny here.
There was an article one day about this guy who was running for mayor dressed as a Kool-Aid man. They said it was in Terrace and I’m like what’s going on there? They said it was a local comedian, so now I’m hoping people aren’t confusing me dressed as the Kool-Aid man now.
What does it take to be funny?
I guess you just want to have fun and let your mind wander, that’s what it is. People will let their mind wander in different ways in the entertainment industry, like Stephen King is able to let his mind wander into some horrific areas — my mind just wanders into the funny side.
What was the hardest part of moving away from here?
The hardest step was leaving my family. Growing up in Terrace, I didn’t understand what show business was, I thought it’d be an Archie comic where you’d just walk down the street and a guy in a limo drives by to tell you to be in showbiz.
So, I guess the second biggest step was getting on stage and doing an open mic, bearing your soul for strangers.
How has it been living in the US?
It’s pretty much the same, other than them having guns. I honestly think Americans get a bad rep. The people that are shown on TV are the Kardashians and the Trumps, and that’s what people think the Americans are. My wife is from the south, and when I go down there, I can see all my friends. It’s exactly the same. We have a little house there in King Charles there and I consider it the Terrace of the south.
Would you move back?
No. When I’m able to come up, it’s fun but I like my home base being in Long Beach, California. The beach is our front yard and it’s a great place to live
When I moved to New York first, I could’ve stayed there but I started doing trips back and forth to LA because I was doing a lot of commercials. I thought about how the weather never changes here, it’s fantastic, and I moved out here because of that.
Do you have any advice for anyone in Terrace trying to pursue a career in comedy?
If they want it, they need to leave. If you want to be a comedian, you have to be in front of different audiences every night and you couldn’t do that here, so you got to go away.
I don’t even think Prince George is far enough, you need to live in Vancouver as a start and then go to Toronto or Montreal, or do what I did and go to the states. You’ve got to go where the population is, that’s what it’s all about.
Any last things to say to Terrace before you jet off into the Californian sunset?
I want to thank them for coming out and for having fun, and knowing that a night out helps out so many people. I’ll keep coming back as long as they keep coming out. Just keep being Terrace.
To learn more about the R.E.M. Lee Theatre upgrade project or how to donate, visit www.remleetheatre.ca.