A Chilliwack hockey trainer, who’s also a standup comedian, will be bringing his first show of laughs to a local audience this month as he moves his career from the hockey rink to the theatre.
Brian Patafie has been in the hockey industry for nearly 44 years and a keynote speaker for 30 years. He’s used his love of standup comedy to entertain audiences across North America for decades.
“I have this uncanny knack to make people laugh. I don’t know if it’s my speech impediment or how I look, or a combination of both.”
Now, the physical therapist/athletic trainer with the Chilliwack Chiefs is getting ready to make standup comedy his retirement job. He’ll be at the Chilliwack Cultural Centre on Sept. 11.
Folks call him the “enter-trainer.”
But Patafie wasn’t always the funny guy. As a kid he was bullied and others made fun of his speech impediment. He was withdrawn in the classroom and wouldn’t answer questions when called upon nor read aloud for fear of being laughed at.
But his Grade 7 teacher saw potential in him from the written assignments he handed in. One day, he encouraged Patafie to take part in the class’s public speaking contest.
“I thought he was making fun of me. I really did,” Patafie said. “But once I heard him out, and heard my father out, I took the challenge.”
His stomach was in knots as he faced his classmates. Others ahead of him had just delivered their speeches; one was on the moon landing, another about wanting to be a veterinarian.
Patafie stepped up to the podium and held on tightly.
“Hey, I’m going to talk about teachers today,” he recalled saying.
The students began to laugh.
Patafie didn’t expect to get a laugh with his introduction.
His fears vanished. He wasn’t anxious anymore.
“I knocked it out of the park.”
He recalled delivering an off-the-cuff joke at the end of his speech.
“There have been some interesting speeches here today,” the young Patafie said. “It’s really got me thinking about being a veterinarian. I would like to open a combination veterinary/taxidermy place. Can you imagine my sign? It’s going to say ‘Either way, you get your dog back.’”
He ended up winning that contest and went on to represent his class in the school competition. Patafie won that competition as well. He moved on to the district competition, and then the city competition. He was the only seventh grader who had ever won the City of Ottawa’s public speaking contest.
It was because of that experience and his Grade 7 teacher that helped bring Patafie to where he is today.
“He kept me on a path and helped me realize the potential.”
The beginning of the 2021/22 Chilliwack Chiefs season will mark Patafie’s 44th, and last, year in hockey. He’s been with several leagues over his years including the NHL (Calgary Flames), Ontario Hockey League, American Hockey League and the Deutsche Eishockey Liga (DEL) in Germany.
In the off season, he’d step up to the microphone at golf tournaments and after-dinner events as the keynote speaker delivering laughs. It was “the old rubber chicken circuit,” he said.
He later realized he wanted to do stand-up comedy more regularly.
“(I’m) 65 years old and I’m a rookie.”
A few years back he signed a contract with a major cruise line to do gigs aboard the ship. It was supposed to be his big break, but because of COVID it didn’t happen.
So he started up a podcast called Live with Taf to keep his name out there. He lives on both sides of the border and during the pandemic Patafie did about half a dozen shows in the States and in Eastern Canada.
He gets a rush after every show, playing out how he could have done the show differently.
“My endorphins just explode when I hear laugher.”
This summer he launched his 70-minute set called The Inappropriate Tour. He was scheduled to do two shows at the Okanagan Comedy Festival in August, but had health issues so he had to cancel.
The other show on the tour takes place right here in Chilliwack. His doctor gave him the OK to go ahead with the hometown show.
Some of the material is not the type of conversations folks would have at church or around the dinner table, he said.
“It’s also not offensive,” he added. “If you come out on Sept. 11, you’re not going to hear a lot of hockey humour. You’re going to hear a lot of stories – some that happened in the game, some that just happened in life.”
He pokes a lot of fun at himself and at life in general.
After his show here, there are plans for him to do a 100-plus city North American tour starting in May, at the end of the hockey season.
“When I walk on that stage, I don’t care if I’m in Carnegie Music Hall or the Chilliwack Cultural Centre, I’m giving it my all. Because if you can’t give it your all at the Chilliwack Cultural Centre… then don’t ever expect to be in Carnegie or in Vegas.”
An Evening of Comedy with the Enter-Trainer Brian Patafie is at the Chilliwack Cultural Centre on Saturday, Sept. 11 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $35 and available online at chilliwackculturalcentre.ca, by calling 604-391-SHOW(7469), or in person at 9201 Corbould St. This is an 18+ show.