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Friday, December 12, 2008

gavin in eye

I'm a bit too late on this one, but oh well. It's never too late to promote homegrown talent, right? Old pal Gavin Stephens who has been running the local comedy circle for a while now, was recently featured in Eye Weekly. For the full article go here, but here's some of it.

On a related note, Gavin is in Montreal tomorrow night. Here's all the info if you're in the area.

On stage and off, Gavin Stephens is doing it all bass-ackwards. For starters, who the deuce moves further downtown — out of the suburbs — as they get older?

The guy's 33, started in Malvern and as of this month has zigzagged his way to the heart of Queen West — deepest, darkest hipster territory. Dude, you're going the wrong way.

Stephens, who happened to be partway through packing everything he owns into a Pontiac Vibe when I phoned, conceded with a laugh.

"I've been hating on Queen for a while, but it's gentrified now," he says approvingly. "It's like a shopping mall."

(True, though to borrow a line from The Simpsons, most people mutter that last part.)

And yet, the move mirrors a change in his act that, since his stint on Comedy Inc. came to an end, has seen him step back from the prefab laughs of the now-canceled CTV series to do something a little more street and a lot less scripted. Also a backwards move, if you accept that over the course of a career comics often drift into, not out of, safe material.

"I didn't know I had so many suicide jokes," he remarks, to say nothing of the stuff about HIV and pedophilia.

It started with an impromptu spot last fall at Yuk Yuk's, where for the first time in a long while Stephens says he just played with the crowd for 20 minutes, getting laughs and some uncomfortable silences with off-the-top-of-his-head gags about racial stereotypes and the fake brick on the club's walls. (You can find it on YouTube.) It's the kind of material he used to do, before Comedy Inc., when as a rookie he was turned onto unpredictable late greats like his idol Lenny Bruce and Sam Kinison.

"I started doing that, and it became my voice," says Stephens. "When I got back to it again I realized I loved it."