After nearly 15 years in the biz, Jane Stanton can officially call herself a full-time comedian.
"So many people are always like, 'It must be so hard to do stand-up.' I think it'd be way harder to do a job you hate. I don't hate this job," says the Vancouver comic, who left her day job at a tech company in June.
Many a stand-up has dreamed of leaving their soul-sucking 9-to-5 behind, but Stanton knows it will be a long, bumpy road ahead. "It's good, it's amazing, but at the same it's [recognizing] that it's time to do this, you know what I mean?"
The award-winning Stanton has become a household name in Vancouver's busy yet insular comedy scene, and while she admittedly would love to stay in her own backyard as she pursues opportunities in TV and film, she acknowledges, like so many entertainers before her, that the grass is most certainly greener south of the border.
"I would love to stick around, but, realistically, I'd have to get a green card for the States. That's just the way it goes," she says. "It'd be great if you did work in Canada, but the States are just so much bigger at the end of the day.
"I mean, California has a bigger population than all of Canada."
With a warm presence onstage, Stanton's style has been described as akin to listening to an old friend telling stories. And yet, she is clear that her persona onstage doesn't necessarily represent who she is in real life.
"I would say it's 60-per-cent me," she adds.
Stanton has been involved in the comedy show, Rape is Real & Everywhere since its inception a few years ago—which has since expanded into a national tour and a critically acclaimed performance at this year's Vancouver Fringe Festival—that features survivors of sexual assault sharing their stories. It is at turns raw, revealing, unnerving—and yes, genuinely hilarious.
In a time when some big-name comedians have decried the state of PC culture and its effect on limiting the scope of stand-up, the comics who, like Stanton, have braved the stage to share their own personal stories are proving that any subject can be treated with humour, empathy and respect.
"I believe that you should be able to talk about whatever you want," she says, while acknowledging that, even still, it takes a certain level of experience as a performer to tackle issues like rape effectively.
"I don't think ... I could have done the show as well as I did, the Rape is Real show, if it was 10 years ago. I don't know that I'd be talking about the exact same subject, or be confident enough to talk about some of the stuff I talk about now. I think it takes time. There are people who try to talk about these things. Do they nail it? No."
Ultimately, it's the intent behind the joke that matters. If a comic is punching down, or only going for shock value, audiences will see right through it.
"There are those people who are like, 'it's freedom of speech!' And I'm like, "OK, I hear that, but are you just doing this for shock value? Are you just going on about PC culture, because that's just a statement and now you're just treading on PC culture where there's no joke there," Stanton says. "You are going to fail sometimes, for sure, but to say something just for shock value's sake, that's not really comedy."
Stanton will be headlining this year's Comedy Kitchen on Thursday, Nov. 7 as part of Whistler's annual food and drink festival, Cornucopia. She will be joined by Vancouver comic and writer K.C. Novak as well as host, impressionist and stand-up, Patrick Maliha. The show gets underway at 8 p.m. at Buffalo Bills. Tickets are $22, available at showpass.com/comedy-kitchen-3.
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