Arts & Entertainment
2 min

DeAnne Smith laughs when people fall down

Montreal comedian prepares for Aussie tour

DEANNE SMITH LACKS FOCUS. See Smith in standup and in a comedic play, Other People's Problems, before she heads off to Australia on tour. Credit: Photo courtesy DeAnne Smith

Most comedians make their living making fun of themselves, but DeAnne Smith laughs when people fall down in public. Her latest project, a short comedy in Sarah Quinn’s three act play, is about Other People’s Problems.

“It’s hilarious,” says Smith, and I would take her word for it. Smith has been making people laugh since her first open mic in 2005 at The Comedy Nest in Montreal. She has co-founded Kandybar’s weekly stand up night, Comedy on Main, toured with the Dukes of Hazard and performed on NBC’s Last Comic Standing. Now, her biggest accolades are coming from her adopted hometown. In January, the Montreal Mirror named her a Noisemaker of 2009. Not bad for four years work.

Her favourite place to perform in Canada is Ottawa’s Absolute Comedy. “The crowd is always up for a good time, maybe because so many of them have boring, government jobs.” Maybe the civil service should try changing diapers. A former nanny, Smith has since put aside the stroller and picked up the microphone full time. “I loved hanging out with babies,” she says. “I didn’t love being covered in snot and milk and pee.”

Montreal’s comedy scene is thriving thanks to young comedians like Smith, who fill in the gaps between cheap open mic nights and the expensive Just for Laughs Festival. For Montreal comedy lovers seeking the unusual, she suggests George Braithwaite’s Friday night comedy series, Too Much. “It’s where comics can try out new material and be as weird an alternative as they like. The last time I did a spot there, I followed a woman who told us all to be more like buffalo.”

Good (and bad) advice is the subject of Other People’s Problems, a one-woman play in three short comedies each written by different writers: Sarah Quinn, DeAnne Smith and Samuel Booth. The play explores modern issues through three characters: a motivational speaker, a sexually repressed woman and an opinionated teenage video blogger. “My play is basically a change-your-life seminar gone awry,” Smith says. “If the other two plays are adorable children, mine is a deranged monkey in baby clothes.” Audiences can expect three wildly different, but ultimately connected stories, held together by the versatile Quinn in each role.

The play is a double feature with Smith’s stand up show DeAnne Smith Lacks Focus. Fans can expect new and old jokes and no holding back as she gets ready for an Australian tour. “I don’t consider anything off limits. If it’s a good joke, and it’s delivered well, you can get away with anything.” Comedy-lovers down-under can catch both shows at the Adelaide Fringe Festival, the Melbourne International Comedy Festival and the Sydney Cracker Comedy Festival.