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Brent Butt's very adult take on comedy

Brent Butt arrives in Kelowna mid-February and his movie opens nation-wide this March - Contributed
Brent Butt arrives in Kelowna mid-February and his movie opens nation-wide this March
— image credit: Contributed

Brent Butt may be known as a guy-next-door type—circa his hit show Corner Gas—but he would rather not do standup comedy in front of 11-year-olds.

"I usually work clean anyway, but it just makes you (think) that's your only option or you can't say certain words even if the F-word is the perfect word," he said in interview to preview his mid-February show at the Kelowna Community Theatre.

Ironically, he actually does say the term "F-word" to reference the curse. Whether he likes it or not, Butt's affable and, yes, polite prairie-boy nature has made him a standout among comics and his persona proves reliable in interview as he answers extra questions despite other bookings.

Great comedy is about diligence and plain old fashioned hard work, as he explains it, and growing up as the youngest of seven children, he paid his dues in the toughest forum.

"I just like to see funny, original ideas and whether that's a broad gag or a subtle jab, whether it's clean or horrendously filthy, as long as it's something that I haven't seen before, I like it," he said.

To perfect his own timing, he's prone to showing up unannounced to run a few jokes at comedy clubs that will give him the time on stage. He may be charging $45-a-head for this tour, but catching him free isn't unheard of either. The only way to ensure material sings is to work out the kinks in front of a live audience, as Butt sees it, so he regularly jumps on stage for a few minutes.

"I record it on my phone and then I'll play it back and say that was too long an intro or too wordy—that's the craftsmanship," he said.

With a mind that's used to pushing boundaries, it's probably not surprising television and standup are not where his aspirations end. While he insists notoriety only buys him a few minutes grace in a comedy club, saying it's otherwise the same experience it was when he got started 25 years ago, it does afford new opportunities.

This is his Almost a Movie Star Tour and he's going coast to coast in the longest string of dates he's done since the first season of Corner Gas to promote one of those opportunities.

While at the World Television Festival in Banff six years ago to receive the Sir Peter Ustinov Award for his television work—Corner Gas had just wrapped it's sixth and final season—it was announced he had signed with Brightlight Pictures to do a movie.

The company does independent films and, as he puts it in a short plea posted on his website, the film will need support right out of the gate to avoid being scuttled by "some big Hollywood 'White House Down,' some guy in the sweaty shirt."

Whether it's dumped or becomes the next Ace Ventura, the movie will at the very least mark a significant rung on the ladder of his career. And he's angling for more.

Asked what he'd like to tackle next, he noted that he's currently obsessed with theatre.

"Good live theatre is just such an amazing thing when it's done well," he said. "You're sitting in the same room with these actors. The staging, the writing, the performances can all literally fool your brain into thinking you're on the moon."

And then there's the book he would like to write. He's thinking fiction and likely another detective tale—but that's a story for another day.

Brent Butt plays the Kelowna Community Theatre February 19. His movies hits theatres this March.

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