Comedian Courtney Steeves warms up the crowd for a night of comedy at the Charlotte Street Arts Centre. She drinks a Moosehead Light and jokes about her nephews, millennials and the generational gaps she notices when working with someone born in 1994.
“[Doing comedy] scares the shit out of me and that’s why I like it because I don’t often get to do things that are really hard and really fulfilling,” said Steeves, who performed on Nov. 21 at a show called Comedy at CSAC: Seasonal Amusement Distraction.
Steeves and Brian Conoley, another comedian who performed, organized the event.
This was Steeves’ fifth comedy show. In 2016, she took a course at The Second City in Toronto, a comedy training school. That’s where she got the idea to start up a comedy event in her hometown.
This is the second time she’s hosted a show like this at the Arts centre.
“I wanted to bring it to the East Coast, [to] people ready for comedy. I saw that the scene here was really starting to pick up so, as I work at the Charlotte Street Arts Centre, I thought that it was kind of the perfect place to get a little more of a professional show feel.”
The headlining act was Maggie Estey, a Fredericton comedian and former STU student. One of the first things she said to the audience was that she took a bunch of muscle relaxers before she went on stage.
“But you gotta be careful ’cause the heart is a muscle,” Estey said.
Her jokes were savage and her humour was slightly dark. She smiled only twice throughout her whole performance.
Estey paused during her set to ask an audience member how they were. When they replied they were good, she said, “My tits hurt,” and segued into talking about her breast reduction surgery.
She proceeded to tell a 10 minute long story about how she “got [her] tits cut off.”
“I wanted some time off to lay down on drugs,” she said.
Estey said she wanted to tell her story of her breast reduction in a comedic way.
“That was a miserable time. It really helped while I was going through that to be like, ‘This is going to be a really good set one day.’”
Estey has loved comedy ever since she was a kid, but it isn’t her job. She works in marketing during the day.
“You can’t always do art for a living. It kind of has to be your side thing sometimes,” she said.
Estey said she takes her comedy one day at a time and takes opportunities when they come up. This year, she performed at Halifax Pop Explosion, a music festival that also features comedy.
She said comedy is an outlet for her.
“I’ve tried different forms of self-expression, this is just the one that fits the best and it’s the most rewarding ’cause I’m addicted to people laughing at me. I love that so much.”
There were three other comedians that evening. Ben Conoley, followed by his brother Brian Conoley and then Anthony Bryan. Each one was introduced to the crowd by Steeves, who read a fabricated bio of each performer.
Steeves plans on hosting another comedy event in April. She’s hoping to bring in some outside talent, and has already been talking to a comedian from Toronto.
“I love the art of comedy because there’s one goal, and it’s to make people laugh.”