He has a highly recognizable face to fans of comedic storytelling.
Writer, producer, and actor Brent Butt was spotted on the Chilliwack campus of UFV when he was shooting, No Clue, the mystery thriller he wrote and co-starred in last year.
Butt plays a would-be private eye trying to solve a murder mystery. The UFV building was transformed into a high-tech gaming company headquarters.
“You’ll recognize it. Visually it’s a very interesting building and it looks very good on film.”
This week the former Corner Gas star is on his way back to town to headline the Chilliwack Cultural Centre in a standup comedy show on May 24.
Butt has always honed his standup chops, in a style he describes as “conversational.”
That’s the only kind of word that fits, he said.
“A friend of mine years ago said my comedy was like having coffee with a friend.”
The first time he ever saw a standup comic perform, he knew it was for him.
Standup comedy has changed stylistically over the years since he started slinging jokes in the late 1980s.
“I guess it’s cyclical. I’m noticing a real trend in one-liner style comics coming up now.
“When I when started it was all one-liners. Then it was observational comedy and then it was all about the storytelling.”
But in the end, all that matters is that a comic is authentic.
“I never worried about chasing trends,” he said. “I do what I do. If it’s authentic audience will buy it.”
He comes by it honestly. As the youngest of seven children, growing up in the Saskatchewan farm town, they entertained each other. A lot. And his parents and siblings were very funny themselves.
“If I could ever make any of them laugh, that was the high-water mark.”
Along the way, Brent won four Canadian Comedy Awards for Best Male Stand-up (2001), Best Male TV Performance (Corner Gas, 2004, 2005) and Best Writing – TV Series (Corner Gas, 2004). Butt was also honoured with the Comedy Network Sir Peter Ustinov Award at the World Television Festival (2008). Past honourees are the likes of John Cleese, Bob Newhart, John Candy and Eugene Levy.
The affable star is making his transition to the big screen with No Clue. The process is almost complete. It was the first movie project his production company has ever taken on.
“It was a scary thing going into it,” he admits. “But it’s been both exciting and fun.”
He co-stars with Amy Smart in the movie, directed by Carl Bessai. It was shot in Vancouver, Chilliwack and Squamish.
“It went well,” he tells the Progress over the phone from his Vancouver production offices. “I’m super happy with how it turned out.”
He got to see the finished product last week with the sound, pictures, editing, colour correction and blending complete. All the integral movie making elements are finally in place.
“It’s nice when you can sit back and see how others will be looking at a film. You never know how it’s going to work until it’s all put together.”
They will now work on getting the distribution lined up.
“It’s a classic whodunit murder mystery. It’s going to be true to the genre. We didn’t want any zany, goofy comedy.
“It’s true to the film noir detective story. It just turns out funny because the guy ends up in funny situations. But everything else in real and gritty and it works.”
So that’s done. What’s left to do?
“I want to write a novel, and I want to write and produce a play. Those are the last two ticks on my to-do list.”
He writes a lot.
“It’s a process I don’t like very much. But when I’m not writing, I want to get back at it.”
But it’s so labour intensive and it’s like “bashing your head” against the wall.
“I love finishing a project,” he said. “But then I get some more stupid ideas and I’m back in my office writing them down.”
He’d like to work with director Adam McKay someday.
“I like the idea of working with a director who understands comedy as much or better than I do. In my work, I’ve always been in charge of the funny. I oversee it. But I love the idea of working with someone like Adam who is a good visual storyteller, but who is also hilarious and knows everything about comedy.”
For more information about Butt go to www.brentbutt.com.
Rock.It Boy Entertainment presents Brent Butt, Friday, May 24 at the Chilliwack Cultural Centre, 9201 Corbould Street. Tickets are $40.00 (+ fees and charges), 604-391-7469 or online at www.chilliwackculturalcentre.ca doors at 7 p.m., show at 7:30 p.m.