By Pat Tiffin, August 9, 2018
Some people are just joy personified. Laurie Elliott happens to be one of those people.
In all my time doing comedy, I’ve never known a time involving Laurie that didn’t end up being a good old silly time. So when I was given a chance to interview her ahead of her opening set for Mike Wilmot, with MC Martha Chaves, at Yuk Yuk’s London this weekend, I lept at the opportunity. The interview touches on a variety of subjects such as her beginnings, her experiences, and even the origins of a certain inside joke.
Before comedy, you started out as a competitive diver. It might be a bit of a leap but what lessons did you learn from diving that you’ve been able to use as a stand-up comedian?
I’ve taken a lot of dives in my stand up career over the years so the first thing is the classic, “you’re only as good as your last competition” and in stand up that means “you’re only as good as your last show.” To get better, you should practise as much as possible in terms of stage time, don’t let the fear of new material (or a dive) stop you from trying it and stage diving at a stand-up show is very painful.
What exactly inspired you to “take the plunge” and start doing stand-up?
I was doing sketch comedy with a friend, and it felt like a natural progression to give stand up a try. When I did, I loved the freedom and control of my material which was then a lot of fart jokes… and still is.
You came up during a time when they were just starting to produce the TV show “Comedy Now” and you were also featured on a National Film Board documentary series “The Next Big Thing.” If you were to go back and give yourself some advice before doing either of these, what would it be?
I’d say for both of them, I wish I were more experienced and polished as a comic and more clever as a person. I’ve somewhat achieved the two former but the latter always seems out of reach.
While we’re on the subject of giving advice, coming from your own experience, what advice would you give to young comics coming up today?
I think in terms of performance, the most important thing is do as many sets as possible to hone your material. In terms of material, write a lot, know your voice and stick to it. In terms of your voice off stage, be respectful to bookers, club managers and staff. Be nice to your fellow comics. Support them. In terms of trajectory, be patient. The first time you think you deserve something means you have a long way to go.
Your stage persona is very animated, which is fitting because you also write for a lot of Canadian children’s cartoons. What animated programming did you watch growing up and do those cartoons influence your mindset when you’re writing for animation?
I watched a lot of Looney Tunes, Scooby Doo, The Flintstones, Battle of the Planets; basically anything I could before my mom told me to go outside and play. What I love about animation is that you can have a show set in space where your ship becomes a bird-shaped fireball, a prehistoric shark can be used as a saw, a bunch of pesky kids can solve mysteries, and all of the animals can talk. Therefore I think the influence they have on me is to always try to write something that’s unexpected both visually and in terms of story.
As you arrive in town this weekend, you might notice that the building that housed the old Yuk Yuk’s London on Wellington Road has been demolished. Do you have a favourite memory of that iteration of the club that you’d wish to share with us?
Having Pat Tiffin backstage to chat with and open the door is a great memory! I had a lot of fun shows when Connie and Barry took over the club and still can’t believe Connie is gone.
I’m also a big fan of the inside jokes that my fellow comics have and I’ve heard from a few sources that you started one a few years back. Could you explain the origin of the phrase “Full Bless”?
Haha!! Yes! My husband’s from England and a lot of people use the word “bless” when they find something sweet or endearing. Eg, a picture of a cute puppy gets a “bless”. If that puppy puts on a fundraiser for a great charity, it gets a “full bless” and so on. There’s also “infinity blesses”, “bless infinity”, “Merry Blessmas”, “FULLEST BLESSSSSSSS!”, “Blessfest”, and many more.
A bunch of us went to Munich, Berlin and Amsterdam for Kristeen von Hagen’s stagette and held the first ever “Blessie Awards” (Blessies for short) where we won in many categories. It’s just part of our lexicon now.
Pat Tiffin is from London, On.
He’s a stand-up comedian with Asperger’s who tells jokes on stage while donating his time promoting Canadian comedy off stage.
Yuks Yuks London
8pm Friday & Saturday Aug. 10 &11
Click for tickets and info
Call 519-936-2309 to reserve tickets
Don’t miss Keith Tomasek’s award-winning podcast “The Inadequate Life,” with Laurie Elliott and Martha Chaves. Listen on Spotify (Laurie Elliott or Martha Chaves) or Apple Podcasts (Laurie Elliott or Martha Chaves).