Empress Comedy is celebrating its leather (third) anniversary which—according to co-organizer Simon Glassman—is a lifetime in the Edmonton comedy scene.
The weekly Sunday night showcase has become its own beast since its creation by Clare Belford in 2014. When Belford moved away, the event was taken over by Glassman and Carina Lauren Morton.
“Before I started hosting it was my favourite show, and now I feel like it’s our job to not mess that up,” says Glassman.
Held at the Empress Ale House, Glassman acknowledges that while he and Morton put a lot into the show, it would be nothing without the support of the venue and those that fill the seats. This is just one of the many things he has learned along the way.
“Doing comedy comes with a lot of risk,” Glassman explains. “If you don’t like a band, you don’t listen to them and then you move on. If you don’t like a comedian, you hate them with every fibre of your being. I don’t know if that’s a lesson or just something to keep in mind.”
With notable guests like K. Trevor Wilson (Jimmy Kimmel, Just For Laughs), Ms. Pat (Last Comic Standing) and Pat Thornton (Comedy Network), the shows are anything but amateur—although they do have their fair share of first timers.
“There is no official system for developing stand-up comedians in Edmonton,” Glassman explains. “But shows like Empress and Underdog help give new performers a good place to grow and see what they’re capable of.”
There have been many highs for Glassman in the last three years. A specific highlight centres around this year’s anniversary headliner.
“My favourite Empress memory from last year was seeing Ivan Decker,” he says. “He only had seven minutes and he destroyed in a way I hadn’t really seen anyone do before, making it all the cooler to have him headline our anniversary show.”
Does Empress Comedy have another three years in it?
“That’s up to the audience,” says Glassman. “Nearly a dozen comedy shows in Edmonton closed from 2015 to 2017. I like to think that Empress will continue to be a great place to watch and perform comedy for a long time. The comics always bring their A-game, it’s a great stage and a good crew of people working together to make it happen.”
Also on the bill for the night are Sean Lecomber, Charles Haycock, Jon Mick, and Lisa Baker.