Red Deer comic competes in CBC challenge to perform at Halifax Comedy Festival

Niek Theelen needs central Albertans to vote for his video by Friday

Red Deer comedian Niek Theelen tells a joke that goes like this: A police officer pulls him over for speeding and asks why he’s going so fast?

Theelen, who suffers from cerebral palsy, tells the cop, “it took me 20 minutes to put my shirt on this morning,” so he’s making up for lost time.

The comedian usually doesn’t refer to his disability in his act, preferring jokes about the pit-falls of online dating, or problems that occur when the auto correct on his phone changes basic words to something spicier.

But Theelen’s friends told him to add a bit of disability humour to his act, so he has.

The formula seems to be working as Theelen is one of only five Albertans comedians in the CBC’s Next Up Comedy challenge. He’s competing for the chance to expand his career by performing at the next Halifax Comedy Festival.

Theelen has made the ’“long-list” of 100 Canadian comedians, and needs central Albertans to vote for his video make it to the next level. Anyone can vote once a day until Friday, March 15 at cbc.ca/nextup, under Alberta.

In the meantime, he’s also been busy making assorted short comedy videos and posting them to social media, which is part of the CBC challenge.

The 26-year-old, who has a day job as a website designer, would love to make his four-year-old comedy career a full-time occupation.

He got into stand-up while getting his a degree in New Media from Lethbridge University. Theelen recalls an instructor gave him the choice of either writing another screenplay or trying a five-minute stand-up routine.

He discovered he loved the challenge of packing as many jokes into five minutes as possible — both scenarios derived from life or from imagined episodes that play out in his head.

Although stepping on stage comes with the dreaded pitfall of looking down and seeing stone-faced or texting people in the front row, he believes the thrill of getting immediate laughs is worth the nerves.

“You’ve got to be as sharp as humanly possible,” he said, noting that his cerebral palsy (a condition that affects co-ordination, not intellect) doesn’t get in his way.

Theelen walks the line between being honest about some challenges he faces and keeping the audience from feeling uncomfortable. “I don’t want to get too into my struggle because I don’t want to make anybody sad.”

Mostly, he enjoys riffing on universal experiences that everybody can relate to.

So far, Theelen has performed with the (late) comedian Mike MacDonald, as well as Brent Butt of Corner Gas. He’s been seen at comedy events around central Alberta, in Edmonton, Calgary, and B.C.

His upcoming shows are: March 22 in Longshot Comedy at the Penhold Multiplex (admission by donation) Show starts at 8 p.m.

– March 24 at Heritage Lanes Comedy Zone in Red Deer (tickets $10). Show starts at 8 pm

– April 6 at FunnyFest Talent Search, at the Dog and Duck Pub Showroom, 5340 – 2 Street SW in Calgary. Show starts at 7 p.m. (tickets $15).



lmichelin@reddeeradvocate.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Comedy

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Three patients dead: Edmonton hospital declares full COVID-19 outbreak

EDMONTON — A hospital in Edmonton is no longer admitting patients due… Continue reading

Federal website advertising hundreds of non-existent student-volunteer positions

OTTAWA — The federal website advertising volunteer positions for students hoping to… Continue reading

Westerner Park gets up to $2 million from city

By then, city officials hopes more revenue-generating events will be allowed to run

Curbside concerts to start this month in some Red Deer neighbourhoods

Red Deer Arts Council is organizing at least eight outdoor shows

46 new COVID-19 cases reported Wednesday in Alberta

Province has completed more than 500,000 COVID-19 tests

Grizzly bears in the dark as they try to share living space with humans: study

Grizzly bears in the dark as they try to share living space with humans: study

‘You haunt my dreams:’ Sex assault victim confronts ex-nightclub worker in court

‘You haunt my dreams:’ Sex assault victim confronts ex-nightclub worker in court

Alberta bill proposes major changes to union strike rules and funding

Alberta bill proposes major changes to union strike rules and funding

Alberta air force base to use goats, sheep to chew down unwanted vegetation

Alberta air force base to use goats, sheep to chew down unwanted vegetation

Calgary officer justified in fatal shooting of man having mental crisis: ASIRT

Calgary officer justified in fatal shooting of man having mental crisis: ASIRT

Gave up seat for Kenney to run: Premier defends hiring ex-MLA for trade office

Gave up seat for Kenney to run: Premier defends hiring ex-MLA for trade office

Southern Alberta hailstorm caused almost $1.2B in damage: insurance bureau

Southern Alberta hailstorm caused almost $1.2B in damage: insurance bureau

Kanye West breaks with Trump, claims 2020 run is not a stunt

Kanye West breaks with Trump, claims 2020 run is not a stunt

Most Read