Stand-up artists kick off annual N.C. Comedy Arts Festival
By trade and education, Ted Morris is a small animal veterinarian. April Richardson wrote and published her own ‘zine when she was 14, and continues to blog and write. They also are stand-up comics, and will make their first appearances at this year’s N.C. Comedy Arts Festival.
The festival begins Jan. 30, featuring stand-up comedians, and continues with sketch comedy Feb. 7-10, and improv Feb. 12-17.
Morris’ home is in Toronto. In addition to comedy festivals, Morris has appeared on The Comedy Network’s “Canadian Comedy Shorts,” and wrote and performed in an hourlong special in 2011 for the CTV network.
Canada has a good network of clubs and festivals that support comedy, he said, “but it’s just very had to make it the only thing that you do,” Morris said in a phone interview. “It’s a great place to grow up in comedy, but you have to move on,” he said.
He has been a small animal vet for 11 years, but is pulling back from that profession to focus more on his comedy, and getting exposure in the United States. At first, he resisted using his veterinarian experiences for comedy material, but a friend convinced him his stories about being a vet were funny. (He has a routine in which he confirms the evil of Chihuahuas.) “My clients now know that I’m doing [comedy] on TV and radio. … They definitely get a kick out of it,” he said. He often gets new vet clients after a show, but his comedy and veterinarian personas remain separate entities, he said.
His humor is drawn from his life, and some of his comedy happens to touch on his being gay. While he still has some “should I leave the car running?” moments on stage, he is surprised by the openness of most audiences. “I used to make a big song and dance of it, then I realized I was making a bigger deal of it than the audience, because the audience just likes to laugh,” Morris said.
He began writing and performing stand-up while training to be a vet, and has been performing about 10 years. “I kind of like the way I did it,” he said of his comedy career. “I got good and quit my day job. … It’s a different road, but I think it worked out well for me.”
Richardson is perhaps best known as a panelist and writer for comedian Chelsea Handler’s show “Chelsea Lately.” “This job is awesome in that it’s helping me to grow as a comic,” Richardson said. “It’s my first TV job, so it’s my first experience trying to write [for] someone else’s voice.” A research staff helps provide the fodder for the show’s jokes, which center on the foibles of popular culture.
Richardson’s stand-up comedy, however, is not based on popular culture or politics but on her experience, and she compares her comedy to story-telling. She has been writing since she was 14, when she published her own ‘zine, which focused on her interest in music, particularly the band The Smiths and Morrissey. “The best way to describe it now was a blog before the Internet,” she said.
She continues to write “for the sake of it, because I enjoy doing it,” and is working on a new ‘zine, based on travels she did last year, to be titled “Victim of Geography” (a line she said she borrowed from a Billy Bragg song).
She performs frequently at comedy festivals, which she said are her favorite venues. “I love the camaraderie. I love to meet comics from all over the country,” she said. “I want to do stand-up in as many places as I can, so it’s a great way for me to get to North Carolina and do stand-up.”
WHAT: April Richardson and Ted Morris, part of the N.C. Comedy Arts Festival
WHERE and WHEN: Richardson will perform at 7 p.m. Feb. 1 and 9 p.m. Feb. 2 at DSI Comedy Theater in Carrboro. Morris will perform at 8 p.m. Feb. 1 at Local 506, and at 7 p.m. Feb. 2 at DSI Comedy Theater
ADMISSION: For tickets and a full schedule, visit www.nccomedyarts.com