It’s not often a Canadian entertainer performs for Connor McDavid and Wayne Gretzky, and it’s not the highlight of their professional career, but that’s the case for Kelly Taylor.
The Prince Albert comedian played shows for Gretzky and a group of former players on a yacht during the NHL All-Star Break in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., then performed for McDavid and the entire Edmonton Oilers team later in the year. Despite those two big names, Taylor said the biggest thrill was performing for his favourite player, Mark Messier.
“I was always a Messier fan growing up,” Taylor said during a phone interview on Tuesday. “The yacht was kind of dark performing, except Messier was right under this pot light. He’s got great posture, and I could just see him howling. I was like, ‘oh my God, that’s cool, to see your childhood hero roaring like that.’
“I’ve done so many hockey functions where I’ve met so many guys, but to meet your actual number one, and it feels weird to say that when Wayne Gretzky is in the house too, was real cool.”
Those two performances were among a packed 2023 show list for Taylor, who is back performing in Prince Albert on Sept. 28. Although he’s performed internationally, Taylor still loves returning home for shows in Prince Albert and small towns across Saskatchewan.
“It’s always about what the crowd is and the people,” he said. “I love having a good time there. Sometimes you’ll perform in small town Sask. and it’s a big event (with) a lot of people are out. It’s just so fun for them.
“I used to tour colleges in the states. You could do Boston College, like a huge college, and there’d be 20 people because they’ve got comedy at every corner. Then you’re in Mayville (State University), North Dakota, a school of 1,200, and 900 people are there and you’re in a theatre, so it’s always fun that way … and I’ve got no ego, so I don’t mind playing anywhere.”
Taylor’s personal life has cut into his performing schedule this year. His son Van Taylor is a regular on the Prince Albert Mintos, and suited up for an exhibition game with the Nipawin Hawks, who acquired his rights in the SJHL Draft.
“In comedy you want to be working, but I’m so busy it’s a matter of balancing that and my kids’ sports,” he explained. “The Mintos, the beautiful thing about them is they’ll play a lot of weekday games, and they’ll always play Sunday, so no matter where my boy is Sunday, I’m usually never working.
“Last Sunday I did a church in Saskatoon, but even then, I told the guy I had to be on at 10:30 and be done by 11 because I wanted to be home to make my boy’s hockey game. The beauty of his is he plays a lot of afternoon games, so I don’t care if it’s Swift (Current), Estevan, wherever, I’ll always make those game because I’m used to the road, and anything to see the kids play sports when you can.”
Taylor’s next performance is scheduled for Thursday, when he’ll be on stage in more of an MC role at a community barbecue hosted by Signature Developments in the Art Hauser Centre parking lot.
Signature Developments is the driving force behind the new entertainment district, which includes a new City-owned indoor recreation facility. Taylor said he’s excited to support the project, and get back in front of a local audience.
“The fun thing about those is you get to talk about anything in PA,” Taylor said. “Everybody’s going to be from PA, so they’re like, ‘yup, I get that. Yup, I know that.’ Then I’m excited to see that whole new development. I got a tour and I think it’s’ going to be unbelievable for PA. I think PA is going to be the best City in Saskatchewan with that new development. We’re going to be unreal.”
The Community Barbeque runs from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in the west Art Hauser Centre parking lot. The evening includes free hot dogs, entertainment from Taylor and live music from The Project.
Community members can also take a bus tour into the new entertainment district.
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