When comedian Derek Edwards performs, he still gets the same jitters he got the first time he stepped on stage in a smoky Toronto basement 30 years ago.
“I’ve been told, ‘Oh yeah, you make it look like it’s easy,’ and I’m shocked to hear that because I’m going through these periods of tension and anxiety the whole time I’m up there,” Edwards said.
“Maybe I’ve gotten close to working the facade a lot better.”
That first performance didn’t go too well. Edwards said standup is like parachuting: “You just don’t know if you’re going to hit the ground face first at 2,000 miles per hour or if you’re going to have a soft landing.”
“I got bruised up pretty bad,” he said, recalling that night. “I broke two ankles for sure.”
Despite the broken ankles, Edwards was back on his feet one year later and this time received a more encouraging response. He’s been performing across Canada and on television ever since and on Oct. 26 he’s coming to the Chilliwack Cultural Centre for his Alls I’m Saying tour. It’s his first West Coast excursion in two years.
Edwards has been changing his set during the tour, which has already passed through Ontario and the Atlantic provinces. He likes to couch localized commentary between his usual rants and one-liners. He said he tries to avoid as best he can the topic of American politics, noting that President Donald Trump gets enough comedic attention.
“I can’t even watch him, for medical reasons,” he said. “My stomach gets so twisted up. I get blurry vision. I get hysterical blindness watching that wanker so I try purposely to leave him and his shenanigans out of the picture but sometimes something so stupid happens, you know, passing comment is just necessary.”
Edwards said he got his first taste of comedy goofing off in front of the class at a young age, and while he admits “it wasn’t sophisticated” humour, “I always thought, ‘What can be better than getting a great laugh when everyone’s supposed to be serious?’”
Thirty years on, Edwards still feels “the buzz, the nervous energy, the excitement and the great wash of satisfaction when something works, especially something you’ve been working on that’s brand new or something that you just tweaked and figured, ‘oh maybe that’s why I fall down on that one,’” he said.
“I’m trying to give you the rosy side of the picture, not every time is like that,” he added. “Why the wash of happiness and relaxation is so great after it really works is because of the times that it didn’t.”
Comedian Derek Edwards performs at the Chilliwack Cultural Centre on Thursday, Oct. 26 at 7:30 p.m. All seats $46. Tickets can be purchased at the Centre Box Office, by phone at 604-391-SHOW, or online at www.chilliwackculturalcentre.ca.