Going to work

Derek Edwards is performing in Prince Albert on June 8. (Submitted photo)

Blue-collar comedian coming back to P.A. bringing small town flair to big stage show

Derek Edwards is a blue-collar comic.

The long-time stand-up comedian from Timmins, Ont., is making his return to Prince Albert on Friday, June 8, a city he hasn’t performed in since Diggers Road House was in operation. Diggers is gone. Roxie’s opened in its place, followed by its current tenant, the Spice Trail.

“I guess it’s more of a historical footnote,” Edwards said.

He does, though, have fond memories of the Prince Albert crowd.

“They were great. At the time, it was quite a novelty. It was on something like a Wednesday night. It was good word of mouth, so people came out expecting to have fun, and it just came true. They had a positive energy, very polite, very nice crowd.”

Performing in smaller towns has always been a part of Edwards’ career. He also has the street cred of those who play the big city shows. He’s the only Canadian to win the Vail National Comedy Invitational in Vail, Colorado, and won a 2004 award for best male stand-up. He’s been featured at Just for Laughs five times. Fellow comedian Rick Mercer has called him the funniest man in the country.

While Edwards is honoured by the accolades, it’s not what he’s about. Wherever he goes, he takes that small town mentality.

“In every large centre — Edmonton and Calgary are perfect examples — they’re half full of people that are from little towns and came looking for work,” Edwards said.

“Timmins is blue collar, a lot of mining, a lot of lumbering. It’s not at all Bay Street Business types and computer experts. I’ve had so any jobs in my past that I could relate well to the hard working crew out there. Coming to work in a pickup truck is not far from my experience at all.”

Edwards also uses his small town roots to bring a local flair to each performance. He likes to check out smaller communities, talk to the folks behind the reception desk and get a little bit of filler on what’s going on.

“(Bringing) some of the local material to the stage that night gives the crowd a chance to scope ya out and see if you’re relatable or not,” he said.

“You’ve seen the same stimuli they have, and if you can get some kind of quirky funny out of it, you can get them on your side.”

In addition to the local stuff, and the new material on this tour, Edwards also comes armed with some of his familiar classics in case, as he puts it, he hits some “bumps in the road.

“The title ‘Alls I’m saying’ just sort of implies Canadiana,” he said.

“It’s some reflection on life in Canada. All kinds of observational stuff. If you’re going to give it a label, I guess maybe escapism, come out for a good time, forget the world kind of thing.”

Tickets for the show are $50 at the E.A. Rawlinson Centre box office. The show gets underway at the Rawlinson on June 8 at 7:30 p.m.

“I would say come out and laugh your ass off if you would be so kind,” he said.

“You can to a largest degree leave your thinking cap at home. Come out just for fun and cheap laughs and knee-jerk giggles. That’s all I’m going for. Thus far, this tour, it’s worked out pretty sweet.”