Kevin Banner is officially one of the funniest people on the Island. And he just happens to be from Sooke.
Banner won $5,000 in an online viewer poll at Bite.ca as part of a comedy competition called Stand Up & Bite Me, hosted by comic Colin Mochrie.
“I never thought I would get flown out to Toronto,” said Banner, who was accepted into the contest after submitting a 15-minute demo tape. He beat seven competitors for the top prize.
Banner, 28, has been active on the comedy scene in Victoria, where he is a regular fixture at Hecklers Bar and Grill on Gorge Road, and in Sooke, where he hosts the Stump Ranch Comedy night once a month at Mulligans Bar and Grill.
He’s done 70 or 80 shows so far this year.
But the road to success has been a long one.
“I’ve been doing (standup) for six years – I’ve been funny for about 18 months,” he said.
In high school, he wanted to be a professional wrestler.
“I went down to California to do a boot camp thing and it hurts. (In comedy there’s) a lot less folding chairs to worry about.”
Standup was something he always wanted to do, but never seriously pursued. “The whole thing of writing my own material – I didn’t think it was something I could do.”
Tired of working odd jobs, Banner began calling local pubs and clubs to see if he could perform during open mike nights. At the time, Victoria didn’t have much of a comedy scene, he said.
“It’d be 10 guys doing Jack Johnson and Sublime covers on their acoustic guitars, and then I’d do standup. It was always kind of awkward.”
He started out doing shows at Logan’s Pub and performing here and there in Sooke. It wasn’t until he got to Hecklers that things started to take off.
About a year and a half ago, the pub began having a monthly amateur comedy night. Now it’s featured every second Sunday.
“For the longest time it was just me – I wasn’t learning much, I wasn’t growing much. Hecklers being there has just been monumental for that.”
Banner has collaborated with some top Canadian performers – he opened for Alberta funnyman Dan Quinn on New Year’s Eve at Hecklers, and recently had Graham Clark do a show in Sooke.
To follow Banner’s progress or hear him live, visit Stump Ranch Comedy on Facebook or @BANNERkevin on Twitter.