Artist Spotlight: Colin Hollett

You’d have to go back to February of 2009 to pinpoint when and where the second-life of Colin Hollett began. February 4th, to be exact, and the place was Yuk Yuk’s in St. John’s, the now closed comedy club that routinely featured the best stand-up comedians from across the country and abroad. 

On the very first evening where local talent graced the stage, at the Great Canadian Laugh Off, Hollett would make his standup debut, winning the competition and besting out nine fellow comics.

Since that time Hollett has become one of Newfoundland and Labrador’s preeminent comedic faces, touring the country to packed houses and rave reviews and establishing himself as one of the funniest on an island chalk full of the stuff.

As with all good things though, Hollett’s time living and performing on his native island is nearing an end, as the greener pastures of Edmonton, Alberta will see him exit stage left and begin anew in Oil country. Yet not before a grand and gut-busting sendoff on August 31st.

In sitting down with The Newfoundland Herald in the days before his farewell performance at Club One, Hollett unloads his mounting frustrations, his love-hate relationship with the island. There’s parallels in his mindset and many local residents these days, and of course that makes for some damn good material.

“I talk about this in my sets. Newfoundland is a great place to visit, it’s a horrible, s**t spot to live,” Hollett says laughing, but deadly serious. “Weather sucks, gas sucks, food sucks, the quality and the price. You go to the produce section, it’s all half rotten. You cannot get a bag of onions, apples or bag of anything where all of them are good. There’s always a few rotten. If you get a bag of something where’s nothings rotten it’s because it’s that pumped full of stuff to keep it from going rotten. Then the potholes are s***t. The entertainment? People do all these big nationwide tours and go as far as Nova Scotia. No one drops in. The politics is s**t. Everything. The taxes, the debt. The only thing that’s good here is the people, the people and the time. The time is good.

“It’s almost like we’ve said by’s, it’s s**t here, but we’re all in this together so let’s make the most of it,” he adds. “That’s what it’s like. We do, we bands together and gets this insane pride. We take pride in s**t. We takes pride in Vienna Sausages. That’s nothing to be proud of, that’s something to be ashamed of, but we’re proud of that.”

Don’t get him wrong, he’s a proud Newfoundlander. What he says about the stuff that makes us great, the cellular level stuff that goes in our blood and guts and bones is the thing that creates the ties that bind us, stubbornly, to this island, but at this stage in his burgeoning career it’s love it or leave it, and he has little choice but to move on.

“Edmonton is an amazing comedy city,” Hollett explains. “They have one of the best comedy clubs in the country,” while adding that he will still aim to be a vocal advocate for Newfoundland’s comedy scene.

He and partner-in-crime Brent McNamara founded That Time of the Month, a monthly comedy show at The Fifth Ticket in St. John’s, as a way to fill the void brought on by the demoralizing shuttering of Yuk Yuk’s.

“Me and Brent have a monthly comedy show down at The Fifth Ticket, That Time of the Month. We have it the last Saturday at the end of the month and it’s awesome. That was our answer to the comedy club shutting down,” Hollett says. “Every month we fly in different comics and I’ll be the MC, always host and we’d have different headliners and different local openers. It’s wicked and it’s such a great venue. It has a comedy club feel. We’re just trying to answer that calling and get something going downtown.”

The Club One performance on August 31st holds a great deal of significance for Hollett. Outside of it marking his farewell from his longtime residency as an island comic, it’s also his first time in the venue since the passing of friend and colleague Sina Nou, affectionaly known to the local community as DJ Sina.

“Me and Sina became like really close, like best buddies,” he says. “That happened, and I was on the road when that happened and flew back the very next day. I had to come back, we had his funeral at Quidi Vidi Brewery and then we had his big sendoff that night at Club One. I haven’t been back in Club One since that big sendoff. I kind of want to go back in there now and throw my big show and move away. I like that thought of it.”

While there is adamant excitement for Hollett in his fresh start in Western Canada, there is a sentiment, and emotion, that comes with saying goodbye to friends, family and familiar faces. It makes his bottled anger towards his home-province all the more palpable and bitter-sweet.

“The sentimental thing is real. As much as I hate this place, as we all do, I love it, as we all do,” Hollett shares. “People gets weird when I s***s on it so much, how horrible it is here, but I say it out of a place of anger and frustration. I’m angry and I’m frustrated because I love it. I’m not saying anything that isn’t true. When I say it sucks because of this this and this, it’s true and it gets big laughs because it’s true. Sometimes you even point out things and people say I never even seen that and now it’s in their head and they can’t ignore it. I’ll be sentimental, but I’m excited to perform at Club One and excited to move. I think Edmonton is going to be killer. There’s an insane demand for comedy in Alberta.”

Limited tickets remain for Colin Hollett’s Farewell Show at Club One on August 31st! Visit Colin Hollett on Facebook at @ColinHollettComedian and purchase tickets online here

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